Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Historic Northern Ohio Winds/Lake Erie Waves/Snowfall

Sandy made landfall late yesterday evening along the New Jersey coast.

One image that has gone viral is the security camera photo of water inundating a subway station. Looks like a scene from a movie.

Now the center of Sandy is situated in central Pennsylvania and starting to turn to the north.

Wind gusts on the backside of this storm throughout Ohio reached 68 along the shoreline officially. I have no doubt that the winds hit 70+ at some point. A north wind pushes Lake Erie water into the south shoreline causing mountainous waves. Since Lake Erie is only 50 miles wide, the fetch isn't very long so the distance the air has to travel to push water is limited. Thus, the wave heights have a limit. Given the wind gusts observed, we just about reached that limit late last night and early this morning as the gusts pushed 60-70 mph. 

Here are a series of snapshots of the waves hitting the East 55th street Marina right after sunrise today. To get a sense of proportion, look at our live trucks in the foreground on the other side of the interstate. The truck are around 8-10 feet tall and sit a few hundred feet from the water. Notice how high these waves are compared to the trucks in the foreground.

The other component to this storm is the heavy rain and the colder temperatures to the west.

Slushy snowfall in Mansfield, Willard, Bellevue and Bucyrus where temps dropped into the lower 30s

When will the wind die down? Once the center of circulation moves north into New York, the pressure difference will drop and so will the winds.  Here is the forecast for later this afternoon.
And now the forecast for late Tuesday evening...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Making Landfall

Hurricane Sandy is now making landfall with winds of 90 mph and a central pressure of 940mB, the deepest tropical system to hit New England ever.

I hinted at the strong potential for a system that could produce some damaging winds for northern Ohio last week, The magnitude of this storm was certainly not something I bargained for. Check out the visible satellite which shows the cloud shield as far west as Lake Michigan.

As Sandy moves inland, the pressure differences between the center of the storm and right here in northern Ohio will continue to increase the winds. Reports from the Lorain buoy 16 miles off the Lake Erie shore show 12 foot waves and pressures dropping with gusts nearing 50 mph!


Lake Erie waves will be pushing 20 feet in spots (purple shades) according to this model early tomorrow morning

Hurricane Sandy - Monday Update - Northern Ohio Forecast

If you recall, early last week, we saw the potential for a super storm to develop given the setup over the last several weeks and the resurgence of a tropical storm in the Caribbean. Now this storm is a reality.

We are accustomed to seeing storms on a flat surface like this satellite image above. What is lost in translation are the elements of the storm that stretch from the surface up to the top of the atmosphere. This is where the real development gets going. 

Remember, when visualizing a storm like this, imagine that the hurricane is a wedding cake with multiple layers. Each layer of the cake represents different conditions as you increase in altitude. Moisture condenses, air rises and descends. A hurricane is a big heat engine. Moisture has to evaporate and condense into water droplets for this "heat engine" to survive. Since Sandy has been over above normal water temperatures in the Atlantic for a few days, the hurricane keeps churning along. Based upon the water temperatures and a more favorable environment closer to shore, expect some slight intensification today before it makes landfall.

One buoy forecast near Long Island is calling for 41 foot waves tomorrow morning.

Grand Central Station is a ghost town!

As of 11AM, the pressure is DOWN TO 940mB. For some perspective, this a pressure normally seen in a Category 4 hurricane. The fact that this storm is merging with the east coast trough has widened its size decreasing its overall wind speed but INCREASING ITS WIND FIELD!  Thus the high winds here in northern Ohio and the southern Great Lakes. If this storm were in the open Atlantic, the winds could reach 130-140mph.

Here is a great Ocean City, MD webcam

The latest forecast brings Sandy close to land later this evening; about 6 hours earlier than last night.

Lake Erie along with the other Great Lakes have buoys which have instruments that record weather conditions. The buoy about 16 miles from Lorain has recorded the pressure fall and subsequent increase in wind speed.

Winds in northern Ohio will continue to increase today and tonight. Gusts to 45 today. Gusts approaching 60 tonight and tomorrow as the hurricane heads into central Pennsylvania. The National Weather Service graphics illustrate the wind gusts for Northern Ohio the best for this evening until Tuesday evening.

Lake Erie waves are forecast to reach 20+ feet tonight and early Tuesday. I haven't seen a wave forecast like this in years!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Update: 3 of 3 - Northeast Ohio Impact

In my first Hurricane Sandy impact post, we focused on the impact along the Carolina coast tomorrow (Saturday). In the second impact post, the focus shifted to landfall projections from the Delaware Coast to central New Jersey depending on what computer model you look at. Over the last several days, the European Model has handled the evolution and movement of the storm with impeccable accuracy.

What makes this storm so potentially devastating is the favorable environment its entering. This great animation by Dr. Ryan Maue really shows the tight rotation and energy in the upper levels of the atmosphere which over time will translate to very high winds on the eastern flank of the storm.


You see how the trough becomes "negatively tilted" (meaning that instead of the trough orienting itself north to south, it becomes tilted northwest to southeast). So in essence, the trough due to many different atmospheric processes pulls the tropical system back to the west.

High wind warnings for all of Northern Ohio from Monday afternoon through Tuesday. Wind gusts to 60 are possible

Rainfall has already exceeded 2-3" in much of northern Ohio

Another great animation showing the wide scale nature of the hurricane over the last several days

Google has posted a crisis map for New York City and Long Island.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Update #2 of 3 - Landfall Projections, New England Impacs

The official National Hurricane Center storm track takes Sandy briefly away from land and then a drastic turn back to the west making landfall between Delaware and southern New Jersey.

Sandy is moving into VERY WARM WATER off shore. This will help feed the storm sustaining it at hurricane strength until it makes landfall.

The best computer model over the last week in handling the storm has been the European Model. Its resolution is far superior than the GFS (American Model) among other things. Here is the European snapshot. It brings Sandy ashore in early afternoon

A few other projections take it further north and and at different times.

The surf heights near Delaware Bay will rise to 15+ feet!

Reegardless, the impact will be felt from Chesapeake Bay, north into New Jersey where evaculations might be needed due to coastal flooding and 60-70+ mph winds. If a shift to the north occurs, the sheer size of this storm and its accompanying wind field has a real chance of affecting New York City. Something to watch this weekend.

Have there been any storms like this? Using the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee analog tool (which weights factors like TIME OF YEAR, INTENSITY, MOTION, DIRECTION and LOCATION) there are
10 "best fits". Notice that NOT ONE OF THESE STORMS TURNED WEST like Sandy is projected to do.

This storm will be an HISTORIC STORM due to it location of landfall (Mid Atlantic and New England) and the number of people it will effect. Some have compared this storm to the Hurricane of 1938. Look at this scary comparison to Sandy and the Hurricane of 1938!

Hurricane Sandy Update #1 of 3- Impacts on North Carolina Coast

Since Hurricane Sandy has impacts that will be felt as far west as Northern Ohio, I'll post updates in three parts so that we can spend time showing the varying elements of this HISTORIC storm. But for right now, I want to show the impacts this weekend along the Carolina coastline.

Notice the amount of area this storm covers. Google Earth satellite photo illustrates this well.

The tropical storm wind probabilities, although very small, extend from eastern Ohio to southern Florida north to Maine!

Most of the computer models keep Sandy well off shore until next week, the impact will be initially felt along the North Carolina coast. Stormsurf.com has some excellent graphics showing the wave heights and wind direction for some high impact areas. Cape Hatteras and the Outer Banks late Friday evening shows no big changes

Watch the wind heights JUMP Saturday morning through Saturday afternoon in the next TWO MAPS....Storm surf heights of 15 to 20 feet are not out of the question!

Storm surf heights rise very fast according to this graph derived from the graphics above.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

HUGE Warmup...Late October Atlantic Hurricane...Potential Storm Next Week

Once again, I don't want to overshadow this nice warmup we are enjoying but the potential for major storm development early next week is too meteorologically interesting to ignore. Temperature will climb nicely today through Thursday. If we are lucky, a few backyards could touch 80 by Thursday!

Now to next week.
Three different elements are factored into the pattern next week.

1. Unseasonably warm air
2. Strong Cold Front
3. Late Season Tropical Storm (Hurricane) near the east coast

The interesting element is the late season Tropical Storm named Sandy in the Caribbean. Late season tropical systems DO occur from time to time. Hurricane Hazel in 1954 was a significant hurricane which made landfall in mid October along the coast of North Carolina and moved north into central Pennsylvania.

We are approaching Halloween so the tropical storm/Hurricane chances greatly diminish. Even less are the chances of a tropical system making landfall along the east coast of the US.

Using NOAA's Historical Hurricane Plotter, I created a map of the tropical systems that developed from October 22nd through early November in the Caribbean that made landfall along the east coast.  I found ONLY THREE SUCH STORMS. All of these storms occurred 1800s. 

So Sandy would be a rarity given its super-late season development and its potential impact area.

Here is the plot of the many computer projections using Google Earth. The red circles are showing selected cities like Cleveland, New York, Boston, Cape Hatteras and Hilton Head.

The European solution is still very aggressive in keeping Sandy along the east coast Sunday through Tuesday merging it with the cold front coming from the west. Lots of energy coming out of the west which--according to this projection--would pull it WEST. Here is Sunday and Monday back to back.

Now check out Tuesday.....

The model takes Sandy, merges it with the front and pulls it as far as western New York and blows it up into this monster! This would mean 50+ winds for Northeastern Ohio with rain (maybe wet snow).

While I am skeptical of this result, the model's consistancy can't be ignored.  We still have a week to go. Let's see what happens...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Big Storm Next Week? No Storm...What To Believe?

The Meteorology subculture inside the global Twitter world is buzzing with the prospects of a major east coast wind/snowstorm sometime early next week before Halloween. As with all long range computer model simulations, some have a better handle on the atmospheric dynamics this time of year than others. Rather than bore you with the specifics of each computer model, I'd rather show you what a few of the projections are saying about late this weekend/early next week:

One note first. I really like warm weather versus cold weather any day of the week, any time of year. So my excitement over the upcoming scenarios for early next week is not to quickly passover the nice warmup this week. Temperature will be in the 70s from Monday through Thursday. The meteorologist grim reaper I am not. The meteorological realist I am. (Was any of that grammatically correct?)

Let's set the stage with the three components that will be intertwined into this potential system:

1) Warm air building in the east
2) Cold air pushing southeast behind the cold front
and 3) The late season tropical system soon-to-be called "Sandy" in the Caribbean.

Lots of map ahead so find OHIO and work east. I show these maps to illustrate the point that computer projections this far out usually have differing results. Also, understanding how these computer models tick make you a better meteorologist in the long run and a more informed viewer of weather

The clash between the warm air ahead and the cold air behind will be the trigger for some thunderstorms across Ohio this weekend. Notice the energy developing late Thursday followed by the cold air behind.

The clash between these components is very apparent on this map that I created for the morning show. 

The big question is what component becomes the dominating feature this weekend?

Using Google Earth, soon-to-be Tropical Storm Sandy is projected to stay out to sea. The lines shows the different projections.

The National Hurricane Center shows that most of the October tropical storms take this general track.

What to these computer projections say specifically? The EUROPEAN model shows this MONSTER STORM off the east coast with strong winds late Monday with a push west into Ohio and PA on Tuesday.

 The CANADIAN model shows some development late Saturday night off of the coast.

The NAVY MODEL show development further out at sea.

The AMERICAN MODEL shows hardly any development early next week.

I can guarantee you one thing: ITS GETTING COLDER NEXT WEEK!

More updates on my FACEBOOK FANPAGE as the week continues.