Hurricane Sandy Review
MWC is officially out of Storm Alert Mode for Hurricane Sandy effective October 30, 2012 9:00p edt.
Well here we are, I am typing to you only hours after the storm known as Sandy, Frankenstorm, the Perfect Storm, a Hybrid Vortex, or the Super Storm…I suppose its all dependent on where you are and who you payed attention to for that part. As for me, it was Sandy. This storm was seen almost a week out. At first we all were looking at the model projections saying, “haha that’d be interesting. Probably will be gone next run.” We were all taken back when the models didnt get rid of it, the monster storm off the coast. Fast forward 4/5 days later and we find Sandy forming in the Caribbean, thats when the reality set in that the possibility of this wasn’t confined to the computer screen. Well Sandy moved north, like the models predicted. We all know what happened next.
This storm was delivered as promised for alot of people in the Mid -Atlantic and Northeast. Anywhere from 6 to 10 inches have fallen over the entire region. Up to 3 feet of snow fell in the mountains. Winds howled across the area for well over the region for 24 hours straight. For though, this storm didnt live to projection or expectation. I hope to give a little insight as to why, here are a few things that we didnt see coming that drastically changed the forecast and therefore made things move along quickly. Yes, there were somethings we weren’t expecting to happen and did get wrong, but that’s the key with weather, you learn and get better. Here’s a few things that happened in the atmosphere, along with one other point I think helped us in preparations:
- The Phasing: The storm did something we were expecting, phase. Phasing is the tropical, warm core, system fusing with the cold front/low pressure, cold core, system on the coast. What happens is the Low takes over the driver seat of the tropical system and therefore robs the hurricane of its tropical warm core. That is why the National Hurricane Center stopped issuing advisories on the system, it had become “Post-Tropical.” A system that has some characteristics of a tropical system, but isn’t driven by a tropical core. This was ALL expected to happen, what we didn’t expect was the burst of acceleration that the storm had just before going Post-Tropical. That was possibly due to the system needing to catch up with the action going on in the atmosphere That sped the time frame of the ENTIRE event up quite a bit as landfall happened a good 4 to 5 hours ahead of projections. So instead of the center making a landfall at around 11p, it took place around 7pm.
- A Dry Spot: I was curious while watching Sandy come ashore the presence of dry air and no rain behind the circulation where the southeast quadrant SHOULD normally be on a regular storm, ok granted this isn’t a “regular storm”, Im basing it off how a tropical system works and looks…and this wasn’t looking the part. I went on over to a water vapor loop and watched a dry air pocket sneakily work into the back end of the storm. It was cut off by the storm’s spin, BUT it did have a direct effect on some of the rainfall totals in the southern parts of the region.
- The Derecho Helped: No, Im not crazy when I say the Derecho (The June 2012 Derecho if you don’t remember). I mean this in seriousness that when I look at an event like Sandy and a event like the Derecho and the timing of it all, I’m almost happy the Derecho happened. Yeah, the event was horrible and stunning and unexpected, but it gave us all an IDEA of what could very well could have happened again with Sandy. We knew what we could expect, had more time to prepare, and ended up being better off because of it. Granted both had their share of damages across the state, I firmly believe that the effects Sandy had could have been worse if an event like the Derecho, and even Hurricane Irene in 2011, hadn’t happened.
Those are three points that seem small, but played a big role in the long run. This storm was one that was predictable, but was yet unpredictable at times. Alot of people dodged a bullet in our area, that being said some people did feel a significant impact. Specifically along the Delmarva coast where damage has been reported all along the coast. Some of the most shocking and heartbreaking photos from the area, may come from Ocean City. The famous fishing pier is badly damaged, the boardwalk is badly damaged as well. I would be in remiss if I didn’t mention New York City and the New Jersey coast. ALOT of damage in those areas, storm surge shut down NYC for a time and made a mess of popular areas like Coney Island Island. For them we say a prayer and hope for quick rebuilding, truly devastating images to see.
To conclude, for MWC, we want to say thank you to the folks who worked their tails off to keep things in order through out the state, we are always on your side and ready to support. Thank you to YOU the readers for your interaction, you are our eyes and ears in places we cant access. Thanks for being safe and understanding with us. I want to thank Mark Gonzalez for his hard work, Foot’s Forecast for being on top of it all and for their collaboration during this event, and Brooks Barber of Kawc10: Cirrus Weather for assisting us with posting.
Thanks and I, along with my team at MWC, wish all a speedy recovery from this historic system. It was indeed one for the books.
-Josh Owens, Director and Lead Forecaster at Maryland Weather Center