Storm expected to have widespread impacts on East Coast
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A summer that started with a powerful and destructive Derecho across large parts of the eastern U.S. could end with a monster hybrid storm slamming the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, putting a punctuation mark on six months of extraordinary record-breaking weather, including heat waves and drought.
Hurricane Sandy, generating winds of 75 mph, is heading northward from the Caribbean and could make landfall early next week, bringing devastating winds and flooding to wide swath of the Eastern Seaboard, according to the National Weather Service.
Many forecasters are calling the storm and unprecedented event, while others are comparing it to the so-called perfect storm of 1991, when another tropical weather system merged with an early winter system from the north, sinking the Andrea Gail, a long-line swordfish boat.
Emergency management agencies are already preparing for the storm’s impacts, and warning residents to prepare for power outages, coastal flooding and widespread tree damage. The northwestern side of the storm will include a cold-air component that could bring record-breaking snows to parts of New England.
“Models are coming into consensus on a landfall, if you will, in the DelMarVa area. Comparisons are being made to the Perfect Storm of 1991, but many folks won’t remember that. The storm will bring very strong winds (hurricane force) over a strong area,” said University of Georgia professor Marshall Shepherd.
Shepherd said that the event will bring significant rains and inland freshwater flooding, which is often the deadliest threat from tropical systems. He also cited concerns about the storm surge and coastal flooding as full moon will mean elevated water levels/tides coupled with the storm-induced surge.
Finally, he noted, there is likely to be heavy, wet snow into the inland and higher elevations of the effected region.
“Pay attention to the cone or area of influence rather than a specific track as the storm will affect an area not a point,” he said.
Meteorologists aren’t yet making any connection between Sandy and global warming, but climate activists are. In a scenario that’s sort of a mirror image of making hay while the sun shines, they are trying to use the widespread media attention surrounding the storm to score points on global warming. Without any scientific support, they’re claiming — somewhat recklessly — that “super-heated seas” are contributing to the storm’s intensity.
Ocean temperatures along the mid-Atlantic coast are currently more than 2 degrees above the long-term historic average, the second-warmest on record. Some recent studies also suggest that warmer air and ocean temperatures will continue to make tropical storms worse in coming decades.
“If the candidates won’t listen to the voters demanding they break their climate silence, maybe they will listen to Mother Nature’s October Surprise,” said Brad Johnson, campaign director for Forecast the Facts and ClimateSilence.org. “We know the candidates will be asked about Hurricane Sandy, and will express their sympathy with those affected. They will rightly applaud the first responders, the compassion of neighbors, and the strength and resolve of the American people,” Johnson said.
“But what their role as national leaders demands that they also do is explain that Hurricane Sandy is a true Frankenstorm, a monster created by man tampering with nature with oil, coal, and gas pollution,” he concluded.
It is true that ocean temps along parts of the East Coast have significantly above average for months, but there’s no way to show decisively that those temps are linked to greenhouse gases or global warming. Instead, the temperatures could be linked with cyclical variations in Atlantic weather patterns.
Regardless of the storm’s origins, the official National Weather Service bulletin issued Friday night shows Sandy weakening a bit in the next couple of days, then regaining hurricane strength in about 48 to 72 hours.
The storm will be transitioning to an extratropical storm during that time, but the storm is still expected to cause widespread impacts in the eastern U.S. Currently, tropical storm force winds extend more than 400 miles outward from the center.