Hermine saga continues with major impacts expected for Mid-Atlantic

Tracking map showing the slow moving path of Hermine off the Mid-Atlantic coast this coming week

Tracking map showing the slow moving path of Hermine off the Mid-Atlantic coast this coming week. Click for full size.

I am back in my office now in North Carolina where I am also gathering more equipment, charging battery packs and getting things ready for another field mission – this time, in New Jersey.

Hermine made landfall as a category one hurricane in Florida in the early morning hours of Friday and brought with it a swath of minor to moderate damage, power outages, storm surge and very heavy rain. The effects were felt from Florida to points north up the I-95 corridor in to eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia. It’s not over yet, not by a long shot.

A bizarre transition is taking place with Hermine that will infuse the storm with energy from the atmosphere combing with the tremendous amount of heat that the storm is releasing due to its tropical warm core. This will lead to a larger storm system off the Mid-Atlantic states that it poised to sit there for several days and send enormous waves and high winds towards the coast. This storm has the potential of rivaling the damage from Sandy back in 2012 but not everywhere along the East Coast. Let me explain.

No two hurricanes are ever exactly alike but we can see similarities between them. Sandy was a unique, late season storm that came from the Atlantic towards the New Jersey coast, pushing unimaginable amounts of seawater ahead of it. We saw the results and will never forget those images.

Hermine is different in some ways but the same in others. First off, it’s early September, the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Water temps of the East Coast are very warm compared to late 2012’s season and above normal for ANY season. This will allow Hermine to strengthen back to a hurricane and begin to pile up the water along the coast from the Tidewater region of Virginia up the Delaware and New Jersey coasts and possibly in to southern New England when all is said and done.

The one major and very important difference to take note of is the fact that Sandy ultimately made landfall in New Jersey – Hermine is forecast to stall off the coast but close enough to pound the area with near hurricane-force winds along the beaches, high surf, periods of rain and a relentless on-onslaught of waves and storm surge. Beach erosion and over wash will be a certainty for the barrier islands and as water levels rise, some homes and businesses will be inundated with water. I would not be shocked to see 6 to 8 feet of water rise in some locations. I wish I could pinpoint exactly where that might occur but as the NWS points out in their discussion, even minor changes in track and strength can have huge impacts on the effects.

The bottom line is this: Hermine is not done yet and poses a serious threat to life and property for portions of the Mid-Atlantic coast all the way up in to the Northeast. Unlike Sandy, Hermine is not forecast to come inland. This will mainly be a coastal issue with only limited impacts for inland locations. It could be several days before the storm, which is forecast to become a hurricane again, moves on out in to the open Atlantic and away from the United States.

I am preparing to head up to New Jersey from North Carolina later today. I will bring with me one state of the art weather station to set up along the coast along with four of my unmanned cameras. You may have seen the incredible live video from the one I deployed in Cedar Key on Friday. The storm surge ripped off a huge piece of wooden deck/walkway and sent it crashing in to the camera itself, knocking it off the pole it was mounted to. The battering from the waves eventually caused the cam to shut off but not before revealing the danger and destructive power of storm surge. I went back and recovered the camera yesterday fully intact and operational. The Pelican case it is housed in did its job and protected everything inside. I will bring that same camera with me to New Jersey.

My plan will be to deploy the four cams along the coast of New Jersey from the Cape May area north to include Brigantine for sure and then two other locations that I will work on as I make my way north. I want to be able to show you the immediate coast where the waves will be but also have a camera or two in the back bays of the region to capture the rise of the water with each high tide cycle. All of the cameras will be available to view at no cost right here on the HurricaneTrack.com site. I will post the links once they are operational beginning tomorrow morning.

The weather data will feed in to our app, Hurricane Impact. The data updates in real time every minute with wind speed and gust info plus the air pressure. There is also a pressure sensor that sends the air pressure reading each minute as well. And to top it off, the weather station set up has its own camera to send a picture to the app every minute, giving you a look at the area where the station is deployed.

I will be posting updates from the road to the video section of the app so be sure to check that often as I will be keeping the information updated several times per day.

I will post an in-depth video discussion on Hermine and what to expect in the Mid-Atlantic through the Northeast by Noon ET today.

M. Sudduh 10AM ET Sept 3

Share

Damaging storm forecast to rock parts of East Coast

Winter is about to make a grand appearance for people in many states east of the Mississippi River and it won’t be all fun and games – not by a long shot.

Energy coming in from the Pacific (outlined in gray) will drop south and east over the coming days and become a strong coastal storm

Energy coming in from the Pacific (outlined in gray) will drop south and east over the coming days and become a strong coastal storm

After a very warm December and tranquil start to the winter storm season, it looks as though time will run out and things will turn nasty later this week. The culprit is a low pressure area still over the Pacific just off of California and Oregon that is forecast by the major global computer models to dive south and east for a date with destiny. I know that sounds rather over the top but what happens to that piece of energy over the coming days is quite remarkable.

By Friday morning, the evolution of the pattern will be such that snow will begin to break out across parts of North Carolina and Virginia. By this point in time, the energy from the Pacific has carved out a sharp trough of low pressure over the Mississippi Valley region – indicating a lot of energy gathering in the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, a surface low will develop in eastern North Carolina by Friday afternoon that is the match that lights the fire. From there, things become very interesting and even concerning as the storm begins to fester over the warm water of the western Atlantic.

GFS depiction of the coastal storm and all of its impacts affecting many states along the East Coast and inland

GFS depiction of the coastal storm and all of its impacts affecting many states along the East Coast and inland

All of the available model guidance suggests that a fairly strong low pressure area will move up the coast from around Cape Hatteras to just offshore of southern New England. This classic Nor’easter pattern is set to bring phenomenal amounts of snow to a lot of people, especially away from the immediate coast. I am no weather winter expert so trying to decipher how much snow and where is beyond my ability. What I do know a lot about is impact and I see this storm as bringing potentially major impacts to people across more than a dozen states.

The snow will be excessive in places, again, impossible to know precisely where. Travel from many major airports will be snarled and people will be stranded. Highway travel will become a matter of taking your life in to your hands when the insane snow begins. Best to just stay put.

The storm will have a lot of energy with it, due in part to the very warm ocean temps as compared to normal. Also, the atmosphere will add plenty of energy and force the storm to intensify and crank up the wind. This will be an especially important impact since high wind coupled with feet of snow never makes for a happy ending.

Along the coast from Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and points north, the potential is there for coastal flooding not seen since Sandy in 2012. Luck is not on our side either because the moon is full this weekend and that will add to the overall storm tide that sets up. Make no mistake, this part of the storm will go vastly overlooked by major media who will focus on the blizzard conditions inland. Meanwhile, the coastlines of New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware will get pounded by coastal flooding, potentially causing significant damage in surge prone areas.

Farther north, strong winds and heavy rain in the warmer sector of the storm will mean miserable conditions for areas such as eastern Long Island and southern New England. Once the cold air mixes in enough, the snow will come, though it’s hard to say how much and for how long.

When all is said and done, this storm will likely be compared to some from the mid-1990s that battered the region with near hurricane conditions. Yes, it could be that bad.

Or, it might not be.

As the case seems to always be, enough uncertainty exists this far out ahead of the event that there is still room for something to happen that changes the outcome significantly. Remember, weather is about the probability of something happening in most cases. Right now there is a rather high probability that a major Nor’easter will develop and impact a lot of people. This is not the same as a certainty. Even when it is unfolding on top of the East Coast, timing, track and other factors will determine the final result. I am here to make sure you realize the totality of the storm. It’s not just fluffy white snow that will make for some pretty Instagram pics. Some places will be slammed with more snow than they can handle. Again, coastal areas of the Mid-Atlantic are likely to be blasted by near hurricane force winds and possible major coastal flooding. In other words, as much as we like winter storms (most people do I guess) they are a deadly part of weather not unlike hurricanes and tropical storms. Don’t let the enormous snow totals being thrown about blind you to the other hazards and prepare accordingly.

I am most likely going to head out in to the storm myself with some of the same equipment that we use during hurricane landfalls. I will wait until tomorrow to make the final call and will post more about my plans and what equipment I will be putting out. It should be one heck of a storm and I will do by very best to immerse you in to it like no one else can.

One last bit of advice. I mention the NWS a lot in my blogs when something big is about to go down. If you want straight-up info without any bias thrown in for website clicks or page likes, simply go to weather.gov and input your ZIP Code. From there scroll down to where you see “Forecast Discussion”. Click that and read it. It’s technical in nature but you can get an inside look at precisely what your LOCAL forecast office is thinking and why. No hype, no agenda, just raw analysis based on the best available data. Use it and be informed!

I’ll have more tomorrow morning.

Share