There is a fable that I recall about a frog and a scorpion. The scorpion needs a lift across the river. He asks the frog to help him out. The frog is quite apprehensive because he thinks that the scorpion will most certainly sting him, killing him for sure. He voices this concern to the scorpion who replies, “why would I sting you? You would drown and so would I.” The frog thinks about it for a moment and agrees with that logic, offering the scorpion a ride across the river on his back. Mid-way across, sure enough, the scorpion stings the frog and they both are about to drown when the frog asks, “why did you sting me? Now we both will drown!” As they begin to flail about in the water, losing their last bit of energy fighting the impending doom, the scorpion simply responds, “I am a scorpion, it’s what I do.”
Sandy is a scorpion, always has been and will be until it dissipates from existence. But it is not the same scorpion now that it was a few days ago over the Caribbean. It still packs an incredible sting and this sting is in the form of wind, rain, storm surge and a massive disruption to infrastructure for days to come. Yet Sandy is an evolving scorpion. The changes that are happening involve a different method for it to generate its effects.
When Sandy was a pure hurricane, it had a warm core, the eye, and a ring of deep convection around that eye with intense winds and rain. It released heat that was absorbed from the incredibly warm waters of the Caribbean. Sandy was a powerful hurricane with a lot of heat and energy involved but over a fairly compact area.
Then, it began to change. It is still the same powerful weather machine, it just has a different structure. Its wind field is now gargantuan in size (tropical storm force winds extend out over 500 miles from the center). While it is still generating energy from the warm Atlantic, the atmosphere is also adding some influence. The scorpion is still there, it just has a different look. Sandy is every bit as dangerous, if not more so, now than it was over the Caribbean. Even though it is going through drastic changes in its structure, make no mistake, the end result of widespread damage and possible loss of life is staggering. In fact, a true text-book hurricane would have a much smaller impact area over a much shorter duration of time. It seems that the scorpion has grown in to something much more powerful over time. But it is still every bit as dangerous.
So when the NHC issued their press release about the transition from a tropical cyclone to a post-tropical cyclone, they were not saying that the scorpion became a butterfly. The differences in Sandy’s structure are academic right now. What people need to be concerned with are the effects that Sandy will deliver to the coast over the next two or so days. Prepare for Sandy as you would an August hurricane with a well defined eye coming right at you. Be ready for long-lasting power outages. Prepare your family for the potential of several days without outside help. While not every location in the path of Sandy will be severely affected, at least 50 million people are in harm’s way in some form or another.
The best advice I can give as to how to understand what impact Sandy may have on your life is to search for and then read the local National Weather Service products written specifically for Sandy’s arrival. This info includes tide and coastal flooding data, rain fall data, wind impacts and much more. It’s so simple, go to weather.gov, input your ZIP Code and look for the “Hazardous Weather Conditions” box. It is self explanatory. Read what’s in it. That’s what you need to know in order to gain the understanding needed to prepare for Sandy. Beyond that, there is no cure all for weather forecasting down to your back yard. It’s just not possible yet. Not with a storm of this size and scope. However, you can acquire valuable knowledge about what to expect and when. This info was written by people who live in your community or close by. It’s there to help you understand the hazardous weather that Sandy is bringing.
As for my coverage of Sandy over the duration of its life until landfall – I plan to tackle it in New Jersey.
My hope is to place a remote camera unit in Sea Isle, NJ, one in Atlantic City and one in Long Beach where I would like to also place the weather station. I am working on getting in touch with local officials to help them by providing them with no-cost access to the video feeds and weather data. It is a tough chore as I have never been to this area of the country before, not for a hurricane mission.
I will stream the live Tahoe cam to our subscribers while providing a web cam image on the homepage of the site. Our private clients provide a majority of the funding for our operation and field work so they have exclusive access to our video feeds. The weather data will feed to the Client site as well as to our iPhone app. I will post screen captures of the weather data from the app and post to Twitter as often as possible. I will provide the local NWS and emergency management offices with no-cost access to this data which can help with understanding, in real time, what the actual conditions are in the area.
Along the journey, I will post video blogs to the app on a regular basis. If you have the app, check the “field mission” section of the video page at least once per hour for a new video update. I plan to post several per hour as long as conditions allow.
The next two days are important ones in our history. It will be interesting to see how the public responds to this threat and how the response is handled. I know that there are a lot of questions and concerns about the nature of Sandy and who has responsibility for handling the flow of information. I can say that it is your responsibility to educate yourself – read up on what is going on. Take the initiative to gain the upper hand by learning more about the threat that is looming.
My posts here will be infrequent as there is a lot of work to be done to get ready for Sandy. I encourage you to follow along via Twitter either directly @hurricanetrack or through the dynamic Twitter feed below. I can post quick updates via Twitter in the blink of an eye and when things get really busy out there, that will be a great way to track the info that I am putting out. Best of luck to everyone who has to endure this event. Stay safe, keep your cool and I’ll do what I can to update things from the field!