Hurricane Sandy Discussion 3

The most comforting thing I saw today for our part of Virginia was the 12z ECMWF simulation.  For the past few runs, the simulation had been trending Sandy’s track closer to the state. But today, that trend stopped.  When viewed in concert with the remaining model simulations (both operational and ensemble), I think we are beginning to close in on a more precise track.

5pm NHC Advisory. Still expecting a hard left turn some time Monday. The timing and degree of that turn are finally being narrowed down.

The storm already appears to be transitioning to an extratropical storm.  The wind field, or the area of the strongest winds, has been expanding farther from the center of the storm.

Funny enough, I tend to agree with my old college roommate, now a private meteorologist in Houston.  On his facebook page, he writes:

Again winds 100 mi away will be Tropical Storm force. NJ SHORE POINTS / LONG ISLAND/CT/RI ARE EXPECTED TO SEE WORST OF SANDY. Honestly, its getting to the point where landfall is not the focus, WIND FIELD PEOPLE.

Tropical Storm Force winds are 39+ mph, and those winds will be found a long way from the center, so most meteorologists would remind you not to focus on the specific point where the center of low pressure comes on shore.  Effects from this storm will cover several states, no matter where that center comes in.

I would also add Delaware and northeastern Maryland to his mix, as a hard left turn in this track (still possible) would bring the center across the northern part of the Delmarva Peninsula. The strong onshore winds would draw water up the Delaware Bay, causing coastal flooding.

And no matter what, there will be tremendous tree damage, phenomenal power outages, and numerous travel cancellations early next week in a densely populated part of the country.

For Virginia, this storm’s impacts look to be focused from Sunday night through Tuesday, and we can now say, with good confidence, that our corner of the state (Lynchburg, Danville, Roanoke, Lexington, Blacksburg) will miss the worst of this storm.

However, it will still leave a mark.

Ironically, most of this weekend will be just rather cloudy.  A few small showers will likely be in the area both days, but steadier rain looks less and less likely until dusk on Sunday. We’ll also have some breezes from the northeast both days this weekend, but probably not much above 20 mph, if that.

Sunday night and Monday, as the storm goes by well to our east, there will be some spells of moderate rain and some winds gusts to 30 mph.  That will be a cold north wind, as temperatures will do no better than the 50s during Monday afternoon.

Sandy is expected to make its big turn to the west some time during Tuesday, plunging another surge of moderate to heavy rain to the south.  The center of the storm will remain to our north on Tuesday, meaning the wind will turn from the west and begin to tap the colder air advancing from the Midwest.

As a result, Tuesday will probably be the wettest and windiest day here.  Specific storm totals will vary widely.  Best guess right now is about 1-2″ of rain in Lynchburg, with about 0.50-1.00″ in Danville

Storm Total Rainfall forecast from NOAA’s Hydrological Prediction Center. Note the dramatic falloff in amounts from northeast to southwest across our part of the state.

As the map suggests, a small change in the track will have a large impact on rainfall totals, but it does appear likely that we will avoid serious flooding issues.  Perhaps some small streams or creeks exceeding their banks on Tuesday, but at this time, I am still optimistic that the James, Staunton, and Dan Rivers all remain in their banks.

As the cold air advances, we do expect some snow in the true highest elevations of the state.  The amount or depth of the cold air is not impressive over Virginia, so expect only some snow showers or squalls in the New River Valley and the Western Highlands of Alleghany, Bath, and Craig Counties.  Not quite convinced of accumulations, with the exception of those areas along and west of US220 in Alleghany, Bath, and Highland Counties.  The Homestead probably gets a coating, and perhaps a couple of inches.

To be fair, it is certainly plausible for the area along the Parkway in Amherst, Nelson, and Rockbridge Counties to get snow showers, or even a coating, but despite all the racket about snow with this system, the structure and position is just not favorable for it here.

However, the high terrain of West Virginia is an entirely different situation.  The center of Sandy is expected to stall and slowly weaken in Pennsylvania next week.  As a result, a consistent west wind will shove moisture up the western side of the Appalachians, depositing heavy snow in the West Virginia ski areas.  Snow totals from Canaan Valley to Snowshoe may exceed 2 feet.

The other thing, which has largely gone unnoticed, is that the chill will stay in place for a few days after the rain is gone.  High temperatures will likely remain below 60 through Thursday of next week, and lows will be more consistently in the 30s to near 40.

There will probably be scattered power outages in our part of the state, but nothing like what will occur in the Northeast.  Most of ours would occur on Tuesday, as that is when the winds are expected to be strongest (20-40 mph).  If power goes out, remember, that a massive power restoration effort will likely need to be made in the highly populated areas between Washington and Boston, putting us at a lower priority.

So buying some extra water and non-perishable foods may not be a bad idea.

About seansublette

Meteorologist at Climate Central. Broadcast meteorologist in Virginia from 1995 to 2015. Born and raised in Richmond, VA. Penn State alumnus. Loves baseball and the rock band Rush. Views are independent of my employer. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
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One Response to Hurricane Sandy Discussion 3

  1. Sherry falls says:

    Thanks for the informative post !!!

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