Hurricanes out, winter storms in

GFS model output showing possible significant storm system next week moving across the Southeast and then off-shore of the East Coast

GFS model output showing possible significant storm system next week moving across the Southeast and then off-shore of the East Coast

Even though we still have a few days left in the official hurricane season, it is, for all intents and purposes, over. The United States had a remarkable season with only one minor landfall in Florida and that was Alberto back in early June. Ever since, hurricanes have been scarce and have stayed well away from U.S. coastal interests.

Now it is time to focus on winter storms and as I mentioned in a recent post, will be covering major winter storms starting with this season. And when I say cover, I mean in person, just like we do with hurricane landfalls. Not every winter storm will be within our financial or logistical reach but for the ones that are, I believe the coverage we can provide will be both helpful and informative for those who follow winter weather.

With all of that being said, it is time to begin looking for the first major East Coast event and I see a chance of that happening next week.

Both the ECMWF and the GFS global models agree on bringing quite a bit of cold air in to the country over the coming days. In fact, a large chunk of high pressure is forecast to move south out of Canada and bring with it some very cold temperatures.

With the cold comes the chance for storms and the models are beginning to show what may be a significant winter weather event coming up for next week.

It all starts with a low pressure area developing in the northwest Gulf of Mexico, a typical genesis region for big-time winter storms. Along the I-10 corridor, heavy rain and possibly even severe weather looks possible as the low tracks eastward across the northern Gulf Coast states.

After the low makes the turn to the north, which is what is generally forecast by the models right now, things get potentially very interesting.

As we see with hurricane threats, it all has to do with timing and track. It’s not quite winter yet so the cold air is not as stout as it will be in a month or more. However, there may be just enough cold air in place so that a major snow event shapes up for interior areas of the Northeast. It is way too soon to pin down any specifics but from the looks of things, next week could be nasty for travel across parts of I-10 across the Gulf Coast and then up I-95 and in to the big cities of the East Coast.

Wind, rain, severe weather and possibly heavy snow may make next week quite a memorable one considering it’s also Thanksgiving week – a time when millions will hit the road for travel. It is also worth noting that this cold snap and accompanying storm system could impact the ability for people to shop at brick and mortar stores either pre-Thanksgiving or on so-called Black Friday. We’ll have to wait and see about timing, etc. but be aware that next week may not be a picture postcard holiday period.

Stay tuned – I’ll have more updates in the days ahead and if conditions warrant, this may be the first attempt at covering a major winter storm with live video, weather data and field reports. The way I look at it, why not? We have the technology and as such, we might as well put it to use and provide a unique perspective as winter weather moves in.

M. Sudduth 7:00 AM ET Nov 20

Coastal storm bringing rain, wind and rough seas to Mid-Atlantic

Potent coastal storm situated just off the North Carolina coast this afternoon

Potent coastal storm situated just off the North Carolina coast this afternoon

The left over energy from Karen has made its way in to a potent coastal storm that is giving portions of the Mid-Atlantic states quite an unpleasant few days. Unfortunately, it is going to take another day or two before things change significantly.

Right now the surface low appears to be just off the North Carolina coast south of Cape Lookout. Since this is not a tropical cyclone, the highest concentration of energy, and in this case that means wind, is spread out well away from the low center. Winds will be in the 30 to 40 mph range across a wide area from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to parts of Delaware and Maryland. This will cause some minor coastal flooding, especially near each high tide cycle.

Rain is also a major issue with several inches falling from this storm system. Obviously, the result will be some flooding of typical low lying areas and other poorly drained streets. Use caution when driving in this mess. The worst of it will move in within the next day or two and finally clear the pattern by later in the weekend, bringing very nice fall weather back to the East Coast.

Elsewhere in the tropics, we are watching invest 98L way out in the deep tropics. It has a shot at becoming a tropical storm over the next several days but conditions in the central Atlantic are not that ideal right now so don’t expect much to come out of this. What ever does manage to develop will not affect land areas.

In the east Pacific, a new area of concern has developed off the coast of Mexico – invest area 94-E. It is forecast by what model guidance there is to move away from Mexico at first, followed by a sharp turn to the north and then northeast ahead of a strong trough of low pressure off the west coast of the U.S. Interest in Mexico should closely monitor this system. It has some potential to become a hurricane over the still quite warm waters of the east Pacific.

In the longer term, the global models show nothing of any significance developing in the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico. We are getting closer to the point where development chances really begin to go down but are not quite there yet. It’s been a remarkable season in that no hurricanes have even come close to affecting the United States. We may just make it until November 30 with that record intact. Time will tell but it’s looking good so far.

I’ll have more here tomorrow, especially concerning the east Pacific system.

M. Sudduth 1:05 PM ET Oct 9

Strong coastal storm now in progress but after this, a nicer pattern

Coastal storm off shore of the Northeast United States

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.

Storm surge and high wind real concerns for Northeast

Ocean Prediction Center's Extra-tropical Storm Surge Model

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 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.


Coastal storm has many in Northeast on edge

Latest GFS run showing strong coastal storm off Mid-Atlantic coast

Latest GFS run showing strong coastal storm off Mid-Atlantic coast

The good news is that the storm that is forecast by the major global computer models for the week ahead is not likely to be nearly as intense, or as large, as Sandy was.

The obvious bad news is that people along the Northeast coast, beginning with North Carolina first, are going to have to deal with another coastal storm.

Right now, the two main models, the GFS and the ECMWF, which were talked about extensively during Sandy’s approach, both show a similar set up. Each model deepens or strengthens the low pressure area considerably while over the fairly warm waters of the western Atlantic. This will result in rain, wind and tidal flooding from the Carolinas to points north in to New England. The precise impacts are not known just yet as the storm system is still far enough away in time that forecasting definitive impacts is really tough to do.

The other issue here is cold air. People dealing with post-Sandy life will have quite a bit of cold air to add to their list of miserable conditions. Relief efforts for the region should concentrate on providing blankets and gloves for people, especially the very young and the very old in the population. There is a chance for snow all the way to the coast though I do not see any evidence of a major snow event except for the usual inland locations that normally see this during a Nor’easter.

For areas right along the coast, the risk of more damage from large waves and a possible tidal surge is there. How much so I cannot say for sure right now. The NWS will likely issue a coastal flood watch and then a warning if conditions warrant. During that time period, assuming it comes, we will get specific tidal flooding info which will include predicted departures from normal and timing. This will help with local planning efforts to make sure people are away from the immediate coast. I assure you, the water rescue personnel are quite happy NOT having a repeat of Sandy anytime soon. Stay away from the coast, it is quite vulnerable now due to the severe erosion and, in some cases, complete loss of the dune systems.

Strong winds, blowing out of the east and northeast at first, could cause more power outages, especially considering the weakened infrastructure. Be ready. If you can access batteries from relief agencies, do so now. Do NOT use candles. I would rather see it dark than have people use candles. I saw first hand in Belmar, NJ how candles can be so dangerous in the aftermath of a storm. Get batteries now if they are available.

It is likely to be an unpleasant week ahead for folks along the coast from North Carolina to New England. It’s part of living in an otherwise fantastic part of the country. Hang in there. Positive mental attitude can go a long way. It’s tough, I am sure, but millions of Americans and indeed people from around the world are thinking about you.

I’ll post another blog update here this evening.