From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for November 2012

Hurricane Sandy: The rain, the water, the power

November 9, 2012 - 04:57 PM

Hurricane Sandy may eventually be the most costly hurricane to hit the United States.  Technically it may not have been a warm core tropical system, a hurricane when it came ashore,



But the damage was devastating between winds along the coast that were 80 miles per hour and the amount of rain Sandy dumped on the eastern United States.  The storm surge was a record in lower Manhattan.  This great NOAA before and after view of the New Jersey coast line at Mantoloking, NJ, just north of Sandy's landfall captures what it did to the coast.

Not only wind, storm surge and coastal flooding but look at the total amount of rain Sandy dumped over it's several day life over land. 





I did a quick calculation and Sandy dumped about 300 TRILLION gallons of rain just over the United States.  Imagine how much rain Sandy produced during its lifetime from the Carribean to dying our over northern Canada.  To give you an idea of how much 300 trillion is, imagine you visit Niagara Falls and watch the water falling over the falls. 


You'd have to stand there every minute of every day for every day for about 10 years to see 300 trillion gallons of water.  Hard to image the power of Sandy.  Some calculations are that a hurricane such as Sandy generates 1000 TRILLION WATTS of power each day!!  That's more than 200 times the total electrical generating capacity of the entire planet!!  Another way to think about the incredible power of Sandy.  Turn on a 100 Watt light bulb.  One day of Sandy's energy could light that 100 Watt bulb for . .  . 30 BILLION YEARS!!  What a storm.


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October Climate: Just How Many Records Were Set

November 8, 2012 - 11:00 PM

The streak is over!  After 16 months of above average temperatures for the lower 48, October ended below average.  The monthly average for October was 53.9°, which is 0.3°below the long term average.   Locally, October ended a bit above average (see meteorologist Chad Merrill's blog on the D.C. October round-up).   19 states, not including Maryland, D.C, or Virginia, had below average monthly temperatures.  Those are the states in blue. 

Average precipitation was slightly above with 2.19" observed.  This is somewhat interesting since there were two extremes featured across the country during October.  The Southern Rockies, Central and Southern Plains were drier than average.  In fact, as of October 30th, about 60% of the U.S. (mainly in the Great Plains) was experiencing drought conditions. The Northwest featured above average precipitation, as well as the Great Lakes, Northeast, and parts of the Mid Atlantic.  

Now a lot of the above average precipitation in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic can be linked to the heavy rain associated with hurricane Sandy and the superstorm that it became.  Take a look at the preliminary rainfall totals from Sandy.  Many areas had between two and six inches, with locally higher amounts.

Heavy rain, battering winds, strong storm surge, millions of power outages, and even blizzard conditions accompanied the superstorm.  Sandy broke numerous records along the coast, but here are a few highlighted in the climate report:

- Sandy had a central pressure of 946mb when it made landfall.  This is a preliminary pressure reading, but will likely go down as a record low reading for the Northeast coast.

946mb Landfall

- The Battery in NYC recorded an all time record surge of 13.88 ft, which is more than 3ft higher than the previous record from 1960.

- The Delaware River in Philadelphia had record high water of 10.6 ft., which is just above the April 2011 record of 10.5 ft.

Sandy, the superstorm, was an incredible storm not only bringing heavy rain, high winds, and strong storm surge to parts of the East coast, but also blizzard conditions with feet of snow in the high elevations.

Snow in Cumberland, MD

The 2012 climate, so far, from January through October, has been the warmest 1st 10 month period of any year on record.  The temperature is 58.4°, which is 3.4° warmer than average.  This 10 month stretch is also the 16th driest period on record with 1.9" of precipitation.  Average is 24.78". 

After a cold start, locally, to November, hopefully temperatures will start to climb, especially after an early month nor'easter.

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Noreaster & Sandy; A Weather Double Whammy

November 7, 2012 - 05:37 PM

It's hard to imagine two strong storm systems pounding the East coast and New England within a two week period.   OK, now that I say that, I guess I have to take it back since the back to back blizzards of February 2010 fall into that category.  What's probably more impressive, in this year's case, is the fact that only a little over a week ago, the East coast was braving Hurricane Sandy and this week dealing with a Nor'easter.  From tropical to winter in less than two weeks.  Unfortunately, it's a reality for so many living in New Jersey and New York.  Take a look at Sandy (top image) and the Nor'easter (bottom image), as seen from space.

NASA GOES October 29, 2012
NASA GOES November 7, 2012

Hurricane Sandy brought devastating effects to the Mid Atlantic and Northeast, but the hardest hit areas were along the Jersey shore and Long Island.  Many are still without power almost two weeks later.  Cold air has been draped over the region for duration of the past two weeks, which makes conditions even worse for those without heat and electricity.  Take a look at how much colder than average temperatures were on Wednesday, November 7th.  Keep in mind, temperatures have been cooler than average for over a week!

On top of that, a storm developed over the South this weekend and has transitioned into a Nor'easter that is moving up the coast this week.  A wintery mix has been reported on the Delmarva Peninsula, but heavier snow bands have been moving over New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts through the day Wednesday.  Here's a radar snapshot from Wednesday afternoon.

Snowfall totals have ranged from a trace to twelve inches in a few spots in Connecticut.  The Nor'easter will be quick to move out of the region by Thursday and then, finally, some quiet weather relief for much of the East coast.  A broad area of high pressure will build in and temperatures will warm, to more seasonal levels, into the 60s in many locations.  The forecast below shows warmer temperatures across much of the East (yellow & orange) equates highs in the 60s and 70s (this forecast is for Saturday afternoon).

The warm up will be welcome for some, including myself, in D.C.  It's been a chilly start to November.  Take a look at some stats for the month, so far. 

D.C. has been very fortunate with regard to the effects from Sandy and the Nor'easter.  Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone still cleaning up and recovering after these back to back storms.

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Coastal storm: The Nor'easter latest impacts

November 7, 2012 - 12:04 PM

Looking at the satellite loop from this morning of the Mid Atlantic, it appears the storm has now formed and it continues to move to the north as it will through the rest of the day before pushing northeast over the Atlantic. The places that will get anything from this system appears just to be the coastal zones along the northeast, unfortunately the same places that were hit by Sandy last week.

As far as the graphic below that was made yesterday, each and every one of those categories should be below the low line as of lunchtime today. We're expecting at most a few rogue snow showers late this evening mainly far north and east of D.C. closer to Baltimore. I think at this point it will be more of a novelty than anything it you do see any flakes. Otherwise, it will be cloudy, cool and breezy.


The worst impact will unfortunately again be along the New Jersey to New York and New England coastline.  The latest storm surge from NOAA for tomorrow afternoon means the risk of flooding again in Long Island Sound into parts of Brooklyn and south along the New Jersey shore. Equally bad will be a cold rain with winds of 30-40 mph and wind chills in the 20s for thousands still without power. This storm will hang around into late Thursday before it drifts east and finally some drier, milder air moves over us and importantly into the New York area.



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East Coast Storm : After Sandy a nasty Nor'easter?

November 5, 2012 - 04:37 PM

A cold night tonight and fine weather for Election Day.  But everything that we are looking at points to a strong storm developing and moving up the east coast.  Here's my quick discussion and look at a late simulation that did so well with Hurricane Sandy.  With the cold air over us and if the strom track is close to us, there could indeed be some snow in the high spots west and north.  This is a high resolution simulation that shows high probability of frozen precipitation near us. 


Courtesy SUNY-Stony Brook.  Ensemble forecasts (previous blog here) of the "models" are a good indicator of the track when there is general agreement.  Here is a late look from the meteorology department at PSU which does show pretty good agreement and keeps the worst of the storm to our east.  Unfortunately winds along the coast are still likely to be 30-40 mph and higher gusts.


The main impact again is very likely to be to our north and along the Maryland to New England coast.  The storm should slowly drift northeast off the New England coast and NOT be drawn west as Sandy was. With the many folks still without power in the New York area this next storm even with a strom surge outlook well below what Sandy did at The Battery.  


The storm will still just add to the problems along the New Jersey, New York and New England coastline.  Right now for DC, some chilly rain and possibly some wet snowflakes Thursday then finally some quient weather as we head into the weekend.


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Possible Mid-Week Nor'easter?

November 2, 2012 - 09:00 PM

Not even a week after Hurricane Sandy hit the East coast, rumors have already started flying that there's another storm, possible Nor'easter, to hit the Mid Atlantic and Northeast come next week.  So could the same areas battered by Sandy be struck again next week?

Well, some of the computer models are suggesting there could be a coastal storm that could impact the Mid Atlantic coast Wednesday of next week.  Let me first point out the strength of the storm would be no where near comparable to that of Sandy in size and intensity.  Also, keep in mind, the forecast is still six days out.  That means there is still plenty of time for the forecast to change.  As of now (Friday, Nov. 2nd), here's what we'll be watching.  The two graphics below are from the HPC and give a rough idea of the surface features next Wednesday.  The first image is 8am Wednesday and the image below is 8am Thursday.




It will certainly be something to watch, especially since the areas in the path will still be cleaning up from Sandy.  From what I see, at this point, D.C. could see a chilly, breezy, and rainy day from this potential coastal storm.  Even for some of the hardest hit from Sandy, from New Jersey to New York, cold rain and wind could affect the region. 

I can't stress enough how important it is to know this potential storm will be NOTHING like Sandy.  Unfortunately, any unsettled weather at this point will not help in the clean up and restoration efforts in the hardest hit areas.  We'll continue to update you, as new information becomes available over the next few days.   

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New York City Marathon: Should the New York race go on?

November 2, 2012 - 09:40 AM

Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the northeast earlier this week and many events for the remainder of the week and the weekend ahead have been postponed or cancelled altogether. With that being said, the New York City Marathon will go on as scheduled, as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced earlier this week. The marathon itself has announced in a statement on its website,

"This marathon is all about supporting NYC. To help support New York-area storm relief and recovery efforts, please go to the Mayor’s Fund or go to CrowdRise to make a donation."

As a marathoner myself (just ran the Marine Corps Marathon last Sunday prior to Sandy), I felt obligated to write a blog on this, as weather and running are my two main passions in life. I actually operate my own blog called The Running Weatherman which forecasts for races across the country, one of which is the New York City Marathon this weekend. I am also close to the situation as my roommate is heading up to New York later today to run in the marathon this weekend.

Mile 21 in the Bronx (Kirsten Winterkamp-flickr)

I do see both sides of the issue here, with the massive destruction and weakened infrastructure to the city on one hand, and a way to raise awareness, money and bring hope to the city on the other. More than 46,500 runners participated in the event in 2011, which helped bring in over $300 million in local revenue and $34 million to charities.

Related: Naming the monster storm

Even with millions being raised for the city and charities, many still don't think the race should go on. Just take a look at a few of the comments I've seen from Facebook followers.

"Cancel the race, any and all resources should go to the victims and clean up of Sandy. Think of all the food, water, medical, volunteer resources the race must have. The race should donate it to NY. I just ran the MCM and got stranded w/o power, internet, heat, food, etc. from Sandy for 3 days. I would happily give up a run to help those in need. I cannot imagine running and taking a single resource away from those who are hurting. The Mayor got this one wrong."

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Hurricane Sandy: Other Names - the Media-an Opinion

November 1, 2012 - 04:10 PM

Almost a week ago as the threat that Sandy posed to the East coast grew, an excellent National Weather Service forecaster included that the storm might be a "Frankenstorm" in his discussion.  The name caught on in the blogosphere and media but was generally dropped as the seriousnesss of the storm became more apparent.  Cudos to CNN. 

"The name 'Frankenstorm' has been coined by some meteorologists and media.We are refraining due the severity of the storm"
— Rob Marciano (@robmarcianoCNN) October 26, 2012 " @capitalweather

But then within the competetive news/information business we had more names such as "Superstorm Sandy", "Snor’eastercane" but ABCNews  Nightline over the last few days has now decided to call this historic storm "The Perfect Storm".  My opinion a very bad choice. For the families who lost loved ones and are still suffering, the catastrophic damage not only along the coast but flooding and crippling snows inland, the loss of so many homes and destruction of entire neighborhoods, there is nothing "perfect" about this historic storm.  


Offering "Perfect Storm" stickers and commercial tie ins to a national tragedy sure doesn't help the recovery from this disaster. 



The "Perfect Storm" is a terrific book written in 1997 by Sebastian Junger.  A gripping tale of fishermen from Glouster, Massachusetts who were lost along with their ship the Andrea Gail in the monster Halloween storm of 1991 off the New England cost. Here's the track and impact of that storm courtesy AccuWeather.  


This is what Sandy and the 1991 storm looked like from space. 


Northeast storm of 1991                                           Sandy 2012

Sebastian Junger is not a meteorologist, but in researching the weather patterns that developed this storm previously known as the "Nor'easter of 91" or the "No-Name Storm", Junger talked with the late meteorologist Robert Case then in Boston.  Case described the unusual meteorological pattern of  tropical moisture streaming north from what had been Hurricane Grace, converging with a very strong cold front and intensifying wave in the jet stream that caused the storm to rapidly intensify or "bomb" off the coast.  Case described this as a "perfect" meteorological situation to generate this monster storm. During the conversation Christian Junger thought "that's it. . .that's the title I was looking for. . . ."The Perfect Storm"  It of course became a hit movie starring George Clooney in 2000.  Almost 10 years after the actual storm

The memory of those who went through the worst of Hurricane Sandy and it's human, economic and life changing impacts is still raw.  This disasterous storm and what happened will be with us for years.  It is not a perfect storm! It is a disasterous storm!  The name "Sandy" will be retired from tropical storm names.  it's memory will never be retired.  A  catchy name from another storm and a popular book years ago should be retired tomorrow.


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