Hurricane Sandy is strengthening tonight. While this was forecast it is remarkable to watch the storm strengthen as it heads toward New England. You can see the “green” wrapping around the storm’s center with an eye that has developed. This is a sign of an intensifying storm to the east of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Our computer models have converged on a landfall location in central New Jersey. This is what we’re expecting. Landfall will be during Monday evening with the worst of the winds both prior to and immediately following landfall.
The storm’s intensity will likely be an incredible sub-950mb. That has not happened in the northeast since Hurricane Carol in 1954!
Winds are already gusting as high as 45 mph at LGA (as of 10 p.m. Sunday). We will see winds increase from south to north throughout the night and be gusting over 55 m.p.h. by daybreak along the Connecticut shoreline. Maximum wind gusts may approach 80 m.p.h. at the shoreline during the worst of Sandy.
Storm surge is what I’m most concerned with. Sandy is already piling water into Long Island Sound. 24 hours prior to landfall, at 10 p.m. Sunday night the surge has reached 3 feet at the Stamford Hurricane Barrier. We’re expecting the morning high tide cycle to produce serious flooding. It’s important that evacuations are done prior to daybreak! Waters will rise quickly as the tide comes in and the surge remains high. It’s possible that the tide levels Monday morning will rival Irene.
The Monday evening high tide has the potential to be catastrophic and record breaking. While winds will approach category 1 hurricane strength the surge has the potential to be much more serious. The long duration of easterly winds will result in an exceptional storm surge – possibly approaching 10 feet in spots. The current projects show a possible storm tide reaching levels not seen since 1938 or Carol.
The only way we luck out here is if the winds remain short of what we’re forecasting and the worst departs prior to high tide. We can’t bank on either of these things occurring so we need to plan for a worst case scenario surge. By every indication this is going to be very bad.
While winds will fall far short of 1938 or Carol but I’m still expecting widespread tree and power line damage. While many leaves are off the trees and the soil is not saturated the impressive duration and strength of winds *may* result in tree damage as bad or even worse than Irene.
Not much time to blog from here on out. Follow me on Twitter @ryanhanrahan for the latest information.