Watching Sandy

The hype surrounding newly formed Tropical Storm Sandy has spiraled out of control in the last 24 hours from the typical sources.

While several computers have shown extreme solutions for New England many models have shown a storm passing harmlessly out to sea.

It’s important to note that while Sandy may impact Connecticut in some way it is still days and days away. Numerical weather prediction is quite good these days  but it’s not good enough to start pinning down specific solutions 7 to 9 days ahead of time.

Here’s an easy way to see the forecast certainty in the next 96 hours and the uncertainty beyond day 4.

GEFS Ensemble Member Tracks / Courtesy: Weather Undergound

Notice the vast majority of the GFS ensemble members keep Sandy well out to sea. There are a handful of members, however, that indicate a more direct hit. While the GFS weakens the downstream ridging enough to let Sandy escape there are other models that take a more ominous path for the east coast of the U.S.

12z ECMWF SLP/QPF 216 Hour Forecast

The 12z European model explosively intensifies Sandy south of New England to an exceptional 927mb. This is the most extreme Euro model solution I’ve ever seen – and I’ve been watching the Euro since the mid 90s!

A hurricane path like this would be unprecedented and devastating given the forecast intensity. The good news is that I have a better chance of winning Powerball this week than a 927mb hurricane approaching the 40/70 benchmark. It’s not going to happen.

That’s not to say we won’t have to deal with issues from Sandy early next week. Rain, maybe flooding rain, gusty winds, and coastal flooding are all within the spectrum of possible solutions. Also in the suite of possibilities is a total miss! 7+ days out… we just don’t know!

Historic storms are historic for a reason. They’re rare. Seeing a solution like today’s Euro (or the GGEM) is interesting but it’s nothing more. We’ll have to watch this closely and see where things stand in Wednesday given how anomalous the forecast upper air pattern will be.

Every once in a while we see our computer models bring a late season Atlantic or Caribbean hurricane up toward New England and phase it with a monster dip in the jet stream. They almost never verify! I wouldn’t be surprised if we had to deal with some impact from Sandy but a direct impact from a hurricane is highly unlikely. In fact we have never been hit by a hurricane so late in the season.

For the time being… keep calm and carry on.

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6 thoughts on “Watching Sandy

  1. Gotta love the media hype. Of course the earthquake scientists in Italy were convicted because they didn’t give out a warning. That won’t happen with the media looking for sensational storms in the US. No one will every be able to say they didn’t know a storm was coming.

  2. What’s ridiculous about the hype is that if this were Winter, and one model showed (8-9 days out) an incredibly intense Winter Storm near the benchmark, we’d prudently say that we need much more evidence to seriously consider it.

    But since it’s a (potential) hurricane, and we love to whip ourselves into frenzies abotu hurricanes, it’s received way more media attention than it should.

    Which is not to say that a strong tropical atrom couldn’t happen…it certainly could, and this is the Euro we’re talking about. But there’s a ton of I-95 bias going on here.

  3. “The good news is that I have a better chance of winning Powerball this week than a 927mb hurricane approaching the 40/70 benchmark. It’s not going to happen.”. Given all the changes that have been made in the last few days regarding Sandy, do you still stand by this statement?

    • Yup… I do! The pressure for the 1938 hurricane prior to landfall was 941mb and it was a category 3 hurricane! I think the models were and are far too strong with the storm when it approaches New England. That said, even a weaker storm could be very dangerous so we are by no means out of the woods. I’m getting a bit concerned.

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