Energy emerging from the Southeast U.S. should form a surface low out in the Atlantic, well east of Florida in the coming days
Once word got out today about the ECMWF global model predicting a coastal storm that had a track similar to Sandy, the buzz began. As you can imagine, a lot of people are still quite a bit on edge across portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast not quite a year after the most devastating storm event in recent memory. The good news this evening is this: what ever is going to form over the Atlantic in the coming days simply lacks the major ingredients to become another Sandy.
However, a storm along the coast is something to take seriously, especially if it were to track close enough to cause significant problems. A lot will depend, as it always does, on where the storm moves and how strong it is. Each day, the models will paint a slightly different picture but the outcome is probably the same generally speaking – it’s possible that a subtropical type storm will impact portions of the U.S. East Coast this weekend and in to early next week. This seems even more likely for interests in the Canadian Maritimes.
Right now, the players, if you will, are still gathering on the field. We need a couple of more days for the sophisticated models to ingest the upper air data and other parameters that go in to their super-computer calculations before we can really get a grasp on what we might be dealing with.
As for the worry of another epic event like Sandy, put that to rest. This is more like an early Autumn Nor’easter and not an extreme event, not yet anyway. I say that only because you never say never with the weather. I think that Sandy has one very positive lingering effect: its legacy will motivate people to pay closer attention and take action when needed. Kind of the “fool me once….” saying playing out. People are smart and won’t be caught unaware and the increase in people talking about this potential event is evidence of that in my opinion – thus it’s a positive thing.
So let’s see what the next day or two of model cycles bring forth. There will be plenty of people looking at this within the government and private weather firms. I will be curious to read various forecast discussions, particularly from New Jersey and New York. I’ll talk more about that in tomorrow’s post.
A common sight now in gift shops along the Jersey Shore is this tee-shirt, “Restore the Shore”
I spent the day last Friday re-tracing my steps in New Jersey where I was during Sandy last October. It is always an odd feeling to come back to an area that I feel like I have so much invested in emotionally. I knew no one when I arrived early in the morning of October 29, 2012. Now, I have new friends; connections made because of Sandy.
I re-visited the Long Branch and Belmar areas first since it was these two areas that I spent the most time in as Sandy’s effects turned the region in to a disaster area in less than a day. Then, I ventured south to Seaside Heights where it looks as if time has been put in to slow-motion mode. I’ll elaborate on that more later.
My day actually began in New Brunswick where I ended up the night of October 29 after Sandy finally came ashore in southern New Jersey. I was amazed at the amount of tree damage still evident though most of the obvious scars have been removed for the most part. It’s easy to see where there were power failures as brand new power poles, complete with shiny new transformers, pepper the landscape. Ah how I remember watching the grid go down as each brilliant flash of light set the sky ablaze with an eerie blue-white-green hue; a sure sign that more people were just plunged in to darkness.
I traveled along the Raritan River which surged out of its banks, flooding homes and leaving roadways impassable that night. I should know, I had to deal with that in trying to get to my hotel. Had I not been there to see it in person, I may not have believed that storm surge from Sandy had penetrated that far inland – but I was and it did. To me, it still seemed like a wild, fever-induced dream. Being back on this incredible spring day with so much growth and green foliage around me was surreal. It’s like Sandy was already a long lost memory on the landscape.
My next destination was Long Branch. It was here that I set up a remote cam unit- now we call them “Surge Cams”. The boardwalk was intact again though sand and debris was still easy to spot; a telltale calling card of a significant surge event. All around me was the sound of construction. Whether it was bulldozers on the beach or renovation crews trying to bring homes and businesses back to as close as they could to pre-Sandy conditions, the area was alive with rebuilding and moving on.
Not far north of the cam unit location lies the Monmouth Beach Club. This is where I set up the weather station (see the screen shot from our app which captured the last image from the web cam attached to the weather station). Here too was a flurry of activity as construction crews worked like bees in a hive to get things ready for the summer season which was quickly approaching.
It’s the tourist dollars of the summer months that really drives the economic engine down along the coast. It’s no different than say, Orange Beach, AL or Pensacola Beach, FL or Wrightsville Beach, NC. The beach brings the people and with them comes the dollars. There was a sense of urgency in the air as the sand was slipping through the hour glass, about to usher in a new season along the Jersey Shore.
Next up was Belmar. This is where I had one of the most profound experiences I’ve ever had in a hurricane event. I met several people here who relied on me for up to the minute information during the height of Sandy’s onslaught that night. It was by total coincidence that this happened. I was in the right place at the right time and it really helped them to understand what was about to happen, especially with the incoming surge. For my part, the boro saw to it that I met New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie the day after. It was an incredible honor and one that I will not soon forget.
So here I was a little more than six months later. I met up with Belmar police captain Drew Huisman who gave me a tour of the small but diverse city. The recovery efforts are nothing short of remarkable. He told me back in December that they wanted the boardwalk open by Memorial Day. It will open this Wednesday and is a marvel to see in person. Belmar did not wait for aid to come to them. Instead, the leadership stepped up, the people worked together and made it happen. The results are stunning. The city is alive and bustling with so much activity as people come back to the coast that Capt Huisman will need more than two dozen new recruits soon to keep up. Sure there is a long way to go but from the marina along the Shark River to the waterfront bordering the Atlantic, Belmar is back on its feet with an awesome new boardwalk and businesses ready for the summer crowds. It is my opinion that Belmar serves as an example of working together as quickly as possible to make positive things happen. It is a monumental task to come back from an event like Sandy. Ask anyone in Waveland or Bay St. Louis or New Orleans about that. The more people can come together and work together, the less painful the recovery process can be. Want proof? Visit Belmar this year…you’ll see first hand.
Sadly, the trip south was somewhat depressing. It’s like time had stopped in the days after October 29th, 2012. In areas such as Mantoloking, Bay Head and Seaside Heights, the toll of Sandy’s relentless storm surge and pounding waves was still evident more often than not. The washed out shells of homes still lay pretty much where they settled after Sandy slammed ashore last October. It’s not that people aren’t trying, this as an overwhelming disaster that people simply could not prepare for- not on this scale. Each municipality is different with each having their own set of challenges that have been waiting ever since that fateful day.
I was also pleased to see my friend Kathleen Koch, former CNN correspondent and author of Rising from Katrina, was working with mayors and other political figures from Mississippi in conjunction with mayors from various New Jersey towns who are all going through similar situations – just eight years apart. Her idea is to get people together who have been through disasters such as Katrina and Sandy to allow them to help one another avoid pitfalls and endure the relentless stress that the aftermath leaves. This is a great idea and I can only hope it takes off and spreads beyond the hurricane zones as there is much potential from learning from others.
Everyone I have met had a positive, can-do work ethic; knowing that the only way to full recovery is to focus on the future and not dwell on the misery that Sandy left behind. In that regard, the coast will be re-built stronger and thus a new and improved Jersey Shore will rise from the sucker punch that Sandy delivered to the region.
I am proud of what I saw, I really am. People have come together and have done what needs to be done.
Here is a video clip that I shot last Friday from Belmar, NJ:
Next up: NOAA’s Hurricane Season Outlook later this week.
ECMWF Day 8 showing yet another large coastal storm off the Northeast
I thought that perhaps I stumbled across some old link and had to refresh my browser. That did not help. The map was the same. It showed something that nearly made me gasp. Once again the global computer models are aligning to bring a large storm in to the region that Sandy impacted followed by the strong Nor’easter just last week. It’s as if the recent warm up and nice weather was just a tease before the siege begins anew from the Atlantic.
Take a look at the latest run of the ECWMF model that I have posted here. Look at the size of that storm! The fetch of wind across so much of the Atlantic is unsettling to say the least. I don’t know how else to put this other than to say: this is horrible! How much more can these people endure? I hope a lot because if this comes to pass, it will surely test the will of the storm-weary people who live along the mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast.
Sea surface temperatures in the NW Atlantic clearly running well above normal
What is the reason behind so much storminess? It’s the pattern we’re in. We see these deep troughs of low pressure digging in across the East Coast with plenty of upper level energy diving in which in turn spawns these giant ocean storms just off shore. It is interesting to note that water temps across the northwest Atlantic are running several degrees above normal right now. Maybe this is helping to fuel these storms? What ever the background reason is, it is becoming a real problem. Hopefully this scenario is far enough out in time that the models will change enough and in our favor so as to not have to deal with this. I worry though that the ECMWF, which handled Sandy’s fate very well this far out in time, is on to something once again, especially since the pattern is so remarkably similar – minus the hurricane coming out of the Caribbean of course.
Needless to say we will want to watch the evolution of this potential storm very closely. I’ll stay on top of it and post another update this evening. At least the tropics are quiet with no areas what so ever to be concerned with.
Coastal storm off shore of the Northeast United States
The much-talked about Nor’easter is now raging off the coast of New Jersey and New York with strong winds, cold, snow, sleet, rain and coastal flooding all on the list of issues that people in the region will face today and tonight.
There is not much to add in terms of what people can expect. I think the heightened awareness of this storm because of Sandy’s aftermath situation means that as many people know about this as can be expected.
I do think that this afternoon’s high tide, coming in now, and then the one late tonight, will have the biggest impacts on the area with minor to moderate flooding possible. Luckily, the storm is not coming inland, pushing all of that water with it as Sandy did. Instead, we have a fairly long fetch of wind blowing across the open Atlantic for a few hundred miles and that piles up the water along the coast, not allowing the high tides to recede much.
Once past the high tide cycle late tonight/early tomorrow morning, the danger of coastal flooding will diminish. The issue will then become snow, cold and wind. For areas where power has not been restored in the wake of Sandy, the cold air will be a problem and people need to be prepared with extra sources of warmth.
By later tomorrow, the storm will be moving away and the region can finally begin to really dig in and put their energy in to recovery – from both storms.
The weather pattern next week changes to one of less storms in the East coupled with a nice warm-up. This should bring plenty of hope for the area since people will have a respite from having to look over their shoulder for the next menacing coastal storm. Perhaps it will be a while before we have to worry about that again.
As far the tropics go, there is really nothing to discuss of any significance anywhere in the Atlantic Basin. This time of year we see activity wane considerably and while it is possible that we’ll see one more named storm, I think it is more likely that we’re done until 2013. We’ll see, nothing is showing up in the long range models and that is the best news of all.
Ocean Prediction Center's Extra-tropical Storm Surge Model
You can’t see it yet but a new coastal storm, a typical Nor’easter, is going to form off the Carolina coast tomorrow and track roughly parallel to the Eastern Seaboard and bring with it an increase in wind, rain, inland snows and a coastal storm surge.
All of the regional NWS offices are talking about the storm in their forecast discussions and it looks as though the areas hit hardest by Sandy will again be lashed by this system.
So far, the rain fall looks to be minimal enough to preclude any concerns about inland flooding. The heaviest rains will likely be near the coast which makes sense considering that this is a coastal storm and is not forecast to cross the coast or make a landfall. However, with many homes and businesses sustaining roof damage during Sandy, this rain is a serious issue and could cause further damage. If there is any chance to tarp open roof damage areas, now is the time to get it done.
Wind speeds will also be highest along the coast with gale force winds almost a certainty. From what I have seen, some of the strongest winds will be felt along the New Jersey and New York coasts with winds approaching 60 mph in gusts. This will be more than enough to knock the power back out for people who have recently had it restored. Here too, make sure any preparations to keep warm in case of power loss needs to be done now. Ask local relief agencies for battery powered lights and extra blankets today. The infrastructure is more vulnerable right now and it won’t take much to bring down additional trees and plunge large areas, especially near the coast, in to darkness once again.
Storm surge from extra-tropical storms such as this one can cause moderate tidal flooding which can extend in to back bays along the coast. Sadly, hurricane Sandy removed much of the protective dune system which will allow for more over wash and surge to reach in to some coastal towns. We could be looking at anywhere from two to four feet of flooding but a lot will depend on the track of the low and the duration of the long fetch of wind across the western Atlantic. A faster moving storm would be better, obviously. Again, from what I have gathered by reading the various NWS discussions, it looks as though the Wednesday night high tide will be the one of most concern – especially along northern New Jersey and some areas of Long Island.
As I have mentioned numerous times, utilize your local NWS info by going to weather.gov and inputting your ZIP Code. Read the content of the “Hazardous Weather Conditions” if the local office has put one up for the current storm. Here you will find more detailed information about timing and expected impacts to your local area. Keep in mind this is written by people in your region, not by a computer or from a cable TV news source. I highly encourage the use of the NWS local products, especially when it is important to understand the local impacts of a storm like the pending Nor’easter.
Luckily, the tropics are quiet with absolutely no areas to be concerned with in the coming days. We are nearing the end of a very busy hurricane season that will be remembered for generations to come because of Sandy and its legacy. For the people who are going through the painful and slow recovery process, hang in there. A lot of people are working to provide assistance for what is an overwhelming disaster. This current storm will be a set back for some, but it will not be nearly as intense or widespread as Sandy. That being said, it needs to be taken seriously and precautions taken to prevent further loss of life and even more damage to property.
I’ll post more here tomorrow morning with more specifics about what to expect as the storm begins to develop off the North Carolina coast.