There are no sweeping changes to discuss tonight with Sandy but I did want to pass on a few observations and thoughts before turning in for the night.
First, Sandy appears to be getting better organized with deep convective bands beginning to develop and wrap around the east side of the circulation. There is still some drier mid level air and perhaps a little bit of wind shear along the western half but all in all, the structure looks improved over the last few hours. This should equate to a gradual lowering of the surface pressure and an increase in the winds. Interests in Jamaica need to be ready for an intensifying hurricane later tomorrow. If Sandy were to begin a period of rapid strengthening, then the effects of the wind will be quite dramatic, especially in higher elevations.
The other item to note is the almost certain effects that Sandy will have on Florida and elsewhere along the Southeast coast. People need to remember that hurricanes are not points on a map. Just because the center is not forecast to strike Florida does not mean all will be fine and dandy – especially along the east coast. High surf, an increase in rip currents, strong east to northeast winds will all be factors as we approach the weekend.
What people in Florida, along the east and southeast portion mainly, need to realize is that Sandy is going to grow in to a much larger system over the next few days. Its wind field is going to expand and reach out far from the center. This means effects will extend in to areas such as the Keys, Miami, West Palm Beach and all across southeast Florida. Exactly what conditions will be felt is impossible to forecast but it looks about as certain as can be that there will be some impact from Sandy for Florida.
Of course, in the Bahamas, hurricane conditions are possible and probably expected. Here too the surf will increase with larger and larger waves developing around this growing storm system.
I think that too many people ask “what category is it?” and if it’s not a three or four, they don’t worry too much. It’s not about worrying at all. It’s about understanding the weather and its potential to cause harm to you and your property. It is possible that winds to 50 or 60 mph will impact areas of SE Florida. This can cause damage to weak structures and trees. These trees can fall on people, buildings and cars and have bad results.
I want people to try and get the bigger picture of what is going on here with Sandy. Sandy is not an “it” as in, “where will IT go”. I think people are asking about the center when they say “IT”. Sandy is a large, powerful tropical cyclone that has wind, rain, storm surge and the chance for down burst winds and tornadoes in its outer rain bands. When you think of “IT” think of the whole package.
These conditions may spread across a huge geographic region from Florida north through the Carolinas and eventually in to New England. It is extremely important to grasp what the effects will be and why they will take place. Do not focus on category this or that, that does little good. Instead, ask yourself “what impacts will I have here?” and then do your part to read up on those. Where can you do that? Your local National Weather Service site for one. Go to weather.gov and put in your ZIP Code. Read the forecast discussions, learn about the impacts. There is a lot to gain from educating yourself about possible effects from any weather system, much less a hurricane or powerful ocean storm.
For now, we will watch and hope for the best for people in Jamaica, eastern Cuba, Haiti and eventually the Bahamas. Just remember, Sandy is not a dot on a map, paper or computer, it is a huge weather machine and it’s on the move. Be ready.