Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy Proceeding As Forecast - Unfortunately...

As of 8am EDT, the center of Sandy was located about 265 miles Southeast of Atlantic City, NJ.  This position is about 310 miles South/Southeast of New York City.
Unfortunately, as we have expected for days now, Sandy is making a North/Northwestward turn, presently moving in that direction at 20 mph.  This motion is forecast to continue today, with a gradual turn toward the Northwest over time.  A landfall of the center still looks probably along the lower New Jersey coast later this evening:
Maximum sustained winds are also increasing as expected, currently at 85 mph, with gusts to 100 mph or more.
The minimum central pressure is 27.94 inches of mercury, or 946 millibars, and falling.  All of these are bad signs that Sandy will be every bit as strong as we have forecast across the Northeast, and the effects are already being felt on an increasing basis at this time.
Shower activity is increasing across the Delmarva peninsula region, including the Baltimore/Washington area:
Squalls will continue to increase throughout the region today, with locally heavy rainfall becoming widespread.  Rainfall amounts of 6-9 inches will be common, with locally higher amounts possible, leading to a widespread "fresh water" flooding threat:
Winds are picking up along the coast, and have been all night long.  As of 9am EDT, wind speeds average 30-40 mph along most coastal areas from New Jersey through the Boston area, with gusts of 40-50 mph (steady wind on the left, gust on the right of each station model on the image below):
Some selected city reports at 9am EDT:  Philadelphia steady wind at 29 mph gusting to 41 mph, New York steady wind 37 mph gusting to 40 mph, Islip area (Long Island) 33 mph gusting to 47 mph, 31 mph gusting to 52 mph on the East end of Long Island, Providence area 24 mph gusting to 43 mph, Boston 32 gusting to 46 mph.
Keep in mind that most of these reports are at airports.  Winds are actually stronger in the urban areas due to the "wind tunnel" effect between buildings.
We haven't seen anything yet in the wind department, unfortunately.  The wind will be steadily on the increase throughout the day, and I do not recommend that anyone venture outside as flying debris will become an increasing threat as the strongest winds move in around midday and increase into the afternoon and evening hours from Southeast to Northwest.  As the winds increase and trees and power lines start to come down, power outages will become widespread across the region:
As you know, storm surge flooding has been a major concern of mine from the outset.  We are already seeing frighteningly high water levels this morning, and we are still a long way from the peak.  Take a look at the following images coming in so far this morning.  Location and credit (where possible) below each image:
NYC East River at end of Wall Street via The Newyorkist
NYC Battery Park Esplanade via The Newyorkist
NYC Hudson River via Nigel Barker
Unknown Location in Atlantic City, NJ via Kevin Rawlinson
As you can see, it's already looking bad and will get much, much worse unfortunately.  We are still 12 hours or so from the landfall of the center, with much more water rise to come, and when you throw this evening's high tide into the equation - you know where I'm headed with this, unfortunately:
The peak storm surge water levels are scary.  The scale in feet and meters is on the lower right hand corner of the image.  Here is a zoom-in on the NYC Metro area with the same data:
The scale only goes as high as 10 feet, so we are off the charts across most of the darker red shaded areas.
You saw the photo of the boardwalk in Battery Park already submerged.  Here is the river gauge at that location:
The red line is the actual observed water level at the indicated time, which is indicated by a 24 hour clock timeline located at the bottom of the image.  As you can see, we were just shy of 9 feet as of 9:29 a.m. EDT.  The peak water level forecast of 11 feet won't even take place until late this evening, and that may be a conservative estimate (as far as the 11 foot mark) based on what we are currently seeing.
During Tropical Storm Irene, the peak water level at Battery Park was only 4 feet.  We will exceed that by at least 7 feet with Sandy.  Much of Lower Manhattan and Staten Island will be under water, as indicated on the geographical storm surge image just above the gauge graph.
The full moon is not helping us with storm surge today, as astronomical high tide is already greater than normal.  Add that to the surge produced by Sandy, and it's a recipe for disaster - literally.
Here is a similar current image and forecast for the gauge at Sandy Hook, NJ at the mouth of the Lower Bay:
There again, we are currently at just over 9 feet, with a peak of nearly 12 feet forecast at high tide this evening.
Well, there you have it.  Just as we've feared, Sandy is only getting started and we're on a major downhill slide across the region.  Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with folks in the affected areas today.  I hope they were well prepared.
I will be "live blogging" this event throughout the day.  Rather than lengthy posts, look for shorter ones covering a particular element related to Sandy, as well as posts on facebook and/or twitter.
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