I wanted to put out an update because there is still not a lot of local discussion about Sandy and how it will impact us and feel there is a decent chance we will get neglected as much of the attention is on the coastal areas, as it should be. First, let me say that most meteorologists are describing this is a once in a 100 years storm. So when you hear words like, “historic” know that the storm is not being over-hyped. In short, a major cold air ma is meeting up with a major Atlantic hurricane in a way that has not happened since 1804.
Sandy is now a Category II hurricane and will strengthen. The storm was going through a reorganization phase this evening and will emerge stronger and more organized by morning. This storm is huge and spreads out nearly 1500 miles. What that means is that the storm will last a long time and that the precipitation and wind will be felt far from the center of the storm. Katrina had a low pressure of 918mb. Sandy is modeled to reach somewhere between 930-940mb at its most intense level. Pressure is usually a good indicator of wind strength, so that should give you an idea of the intensity that Sandy packs.
Here is a breakdown by day:
Showers will come through quickly on Sunday ahead of the cold front from the west. This cold front gives us our first dose of arctic cold for the winter. Temperatures will dip the 30’s and low 40’s. Do not be surprised to see them sink to the upper 20’s, especially in the higher elevations. Late Sunday, snow showers are possible as the outer bands of Sandy start to reach the area. The higher elevations may see accumulation.
More snow showers. Most of our snow falls Monday into Tuesday. Timing can vary depending on how quickly Sandy moves. Winds will be strong with gusts above 50 mph. This will cause snow drifting in the mountains. The storm will be pounding the East coast around NJ/Philly. Heavy rains will fall in the areas not receiving snow. It is possible, depending on how west the storm tracks, that we will have tropical air move in and we could switch to snow on Monday.
Sandy continues up towards northern PA. Again, the further west the storm tracks, the more rain we get and the less snow. Winds persist.
More showers. We might switch back to snow at this point. If Sandy tracks towards Watertown, NY, our chances of snow are higher and we could see lake effect enhancement. Winds are still present but noticeably diminished.
More showers, fading as they days progresses.
Indiana, PA to Johnstown
The area of the Laurel Highlands that extends from Johnstown to Indiana could very well get more snow than is modeled. These higher elevations could be colder but could also be right on the border of the arctic and tropical air. To some degree, I think a temperature fight could emerge there and the precipitation could switch back and forth.
I think we should expect that any power outages could be prolonged. I think it is likely that the number of people without power on the East coast next week will soar into the millions. This storm will be worse than Irene in terms of East Coast flooding, worse than the Derecho in terms of wind due to longevity, and the snows in the WV mountains could leave those poor folks without power for weeks.
This map is a first draft. There is still some tightening up of the models that needs to occur before a definite forecast can be made but I wanted to get an idea out so you could see where we are trending right now. I think there is, no doubt a storm. The track will determine the intensity and precipitation type and amounts, so stay tuned.