We are a day closer now to the events leading up to what looks like another potent ocean storm for next week. All of the major global computer models show this happening to one degree or another. The run to run variability that we see in terms of strength and location is inevitable and it’s not time to focus on precise impacts for any one area. Instead, let’s look at what is likely to happen across a broad region of the U.S. coastline.
One key element of this storm, like the most recent Nor’easter, is that it is likely to remain offshore the entire time (at least as far as the U.S. is concerned). While it is possible that high latitude blocking via a large area of high pressure sliding in could send the storm back to the coast, it is not very likely. However, it does appear that quite a strong high will move in across the northern U.S. and across the Canadian Maritimes and this will combine with the low pressure of the ocean storm to create quite a strong pressure gradient.
It is this pressure gradient, the difference in the high and low pressure over distance, that I am most concerned about. The wind will not be particularly strong, nothing anywhere near what we saw with Sandy, but it will be around for several days, blowing across the Atlantic with increasing intensity. This will build the seas, creating large waves off shore. All of this energy will then be translated towards the vulnerable coastline from North Carolina’s Outer Banks to New England. You can clearly see this potential outlined in the graphic that I have posted in this blog. At first the wind will be easterly and directly onshore. Then, as the low tracks north, the wind will shift gradually to more northeast but the fetch will be significant. There will likely be several high tide cycles that will coincide with this event but fortunately, the Moon will not be much of a factor as it will be several days away from being full.
As far as inland snow or rain impact, it’s too soon to tell right now how much cold air will be in place but so far, the distance from the coast leads me to believe that the snow threat is going to be limited to the coast if at all. I do not see any indication right now that this storm will be a big snow maker for any one location. We’ll see as the picture gets clearer in the coming days but I am far more concerned about the coastal impacts of the increase in wind and wave action.
I’ll cover this topic at least once per day as I know many people in the region are concerned, rightfully so, about any coastal storm event that may hamper recovery efforts.