Here is weather footage of conditions along South Amboy’s Waterfront Park beach as the skies began to clear after a nor’easter finally moved out earlier in the day. Conditions were still blustery and brisk as a result of the tight pressure gradient between the high pressure from Canada moving in, and low pressure from Hurricane Joaquin as it moved toward Bermuda, and made its closest approach to New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic coast.
Here is storm footage taken on day two of the October Nor’easter of 2015 from South Amboy’s Waterfront Park in Middlesex County, New Jersey. Although this area was off Raritan Bay, and somewhat shielded by Staten Island, it still took a good beating from this storm that also fed off the tight pressure gradient between strong high pressure trying to move in from Canada, and the low pressure centered in Hurricane Joaquin, which was starting to move away from the Bahamas at this point.
Here is car cam footage of a drive from Edison to South Amboy during my lunch break on Saturday, day two of the nor’easter that affect much of the East Coast. The storm ended up bottoming out to 29.62 inches of Hg. It also produced rough surf, rip currents, elevated tide levels, and coastal flooding up and down the Mid-Atlantic coast from New Jersey to South Carolina.
Here is car cam footage of my drive through South Plainfield and into North Edison en route to Bishop Ahr during the nor’easter that developed in the latter part of the week. The storm lasted for the better part of three days as it worked in tandem with strong high pressure coming out of Canada, and significantly low pressure from Hurricane Joaquin to the south (931 millibars). The difference in pressure created a tight pressure gradient that produced strong winds along the coast and inland. The storm ended up bringing almost an inch of rain to GWC in South Plainfield.
Once Near Category Five Strength Storm Weakens As It Closes in on Tiny Resort Island in Western Atlantic
Since Saturday night, Hurricane Joaquin continued on its weakening trend as it encounters less favorable conditions in the Western Atlantic. After reaching the maximum limit of Category Four strength with 155 mile per hour winds during the mid-afternoon on Saturday, Joaquin has been weakening. Over the last 24 hours or so, winds have dropped some 50 miles per hour while the barometric pressure has risen to 957 millibars, or 28.26 inches of Hg (Mercury). A rise of 24 millibars, or 0.71 inches of Hg. A rate of one millibar per hour.
Despite this weakening trend, Joaquin is still a force to be reckoned with as a strong Category Two Hurricane. The hurricane is closing in on the resort island of Bermuda in the Western Atlantic. The island is already experiencing tropical storm force winds, which is causing rough surf in places such as Port Bermuda (see live webcam footage at http://portbermudawebcam.com/). Conditions will continue to deteriorate in the afternon as the storm approaches from the west, and passes just to the west of Bermuda in the afternoon, and just to the north during the evening. The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida is calling for a range of effects from the storm including: Tropical Storm force Winds, Tornadoes, Life Threatening Storm Surge, Rainfall amounts between 3 to 5 inches, and large ocean swells.
Currently, a Hurricane Warning is in effect for the island, and Joaquin is located less than 125 miles to the Southwest of Bermuda. The storm is moving to the Northeast at 15 miles per hour. Meanwhile, the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic coasts of the United States are not out of the woods yet either in terms of the large swells from Hurricane Joaquin. The storm is currently making its closest approach to the United States mainland, and that will continue for about the next 24 to 30 hours before it pushes out to sea. As a result, the heavy surf, dangerous rip currents, elevated tide levels, and coastal flooding that has been plaguing coastal areas since at least Friday, is expected to continue for another day or so.
Here in Middlesex County, New Jersey, skies have finally cleared after the nor’easter pushed through on Friday and Saturday. Much of the rain had ended by Saturday night, but the clouds and windy conditions persisted into Sunday morning. Now, the skies have cleared, and the sun is out with plenty of blue skies. Winds are still a bit gusty though, and conditions are much worse along the coast in places such as South Amboy, Sayreville, Laurence Harbor, and Cliffwood Beach. We are still dealing with a tight pressure gradient between strong high pressure moving down from Canada and significantly low pressure from Joaquin. So, the gusty winds will still be a problem along with the easterly fetch causing problems along the coast. Total rain from the storm this weekend was about 0.90 inches at GWC in South Plainfield.
Hurricane Hunters Find Category Four Storm Much Stronger on Saturday Afternoon
Saturday brought with it some good news for those living in the Bahamas. After Hurricane Joaquin pummeled the archipelago for the better part of three days, the storm began to pull away. However as Joaquin began to push to the north and east toward Bermuda, the storm dramatically intensified during the afternoon hours. Hurricane Hunter aircraft discovered Joaquin much stronger with winds of 155 miles per hour, or just a shade under Category Five intensity on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.
The storm reached this new intensity peak during the mid-afternoon hours, and has since weakened to 145 mile per hour winds as of the 8:00 PM EDT Advisory on Saturday evening from the National Hurricane Center. Barometric pressure, which had been as low as 931 millibars, or 27.49 inches of Hg a couple days ago, now has a barometric pressure of 933 millibars, or 27.55 inches. Joaquin has been picking up in forward speed to the Northeast at 18 miles per hour. Currently, the Category Four Hurricane is located some 550 miles to the Southwest of Bermuda.
As Joaquin moves away from the Bahamas, pictures and video are coming out of the island chain that are showing the power, fury, and devastation from the storm. Pictures out of Exuma and Long Island show significant damage. Video of the storm’s power as it raked San Salvador showed palm trees leaning heavily to one side under the weight of the high winds that blew through the island for the better part of 48 hours. Wayne Neely, a meteorologist for the Bahamas, indicated earlier today on Facebook that as many as 30 people may have died on Long Island, and so far 8 deaths have been confirmed there. An overhead photo from the island shows heavily damaged homes surrounded by water.
Next stop for Joaquin is the resort island of Bermuda, where a Tropical Storm Warning and a Hurricane Watch are in effect. The storm is expected to turn to the North-Northeast on Sunday, and that will take it just to the west of the island, which could still see hurricane force conditions. The NHC cautions though that a slight deviation in Joaquin’s storm track to the east could bring more significant winds to Bermuda. Meanwhile, the storm is still playing an indirect role in the weather here in New Jersey, and down the Eastern Seaboard as far south as South Carolina. The tight pressure gradient between Joaquin and high pressure coming down from Canada, and another system is creating a tremendous easterly fetch that is stirring up the waters along coastal communities up and down the East Coast.
The Weather Channel is reporting from North Charleston, South Carolina, where tremendous flooding is occurring. TWC has reporters wading through high waters in the streets of North Charleston. Further north, in Cape May County, New Jersey, waters are rising in places like Wildwood, where significant flooding could occur when high tide comes in at midnight there. A little bit further north in the Garden State on Long Beach Island in Ocean County, extensive tidal flooding is occurring. Storm surge maps are showing surge rises of up to 3 feet above normal from Delaware Bay up to Seaside Heights. GWC was over at Waterfront Park in South Amboy, where there was also a good easterly fetch driving waves ashore, and bringing gusty winds that had the US flag there flapping wildly.
On Friday afternoon and evening, the rain was at its worst across the Garden State. Driven by a fairly steady wind, moderate to heavy rain fell from about 4:00 PM on Friday afternoon to well past 9:30 PM on Friday evening. High School football games went on as scheduled across New Jersey although a number of them including several in Middlesex County were moved up earlier to avoid players and fans having to deal with extreme weather conditions. However, fans at the early games still had to go through some difficulty. According to the NHC’s latest forecast track, Joaquin will make its closest approach to New Jersey on Monday afternoon as a hurricane. So, residents up and down the Jersey Shore should expect the easterly fetch to continue and the elevated water levels, rip currents, and heavy surf to persist for the next 40 hours or so.
A New Month Begins with Joaquin Strengthening to Category Three While Forecast Uncertainty Remains
Since the last post to the GWC and Hurricaneville blog last night on Hurricane Joaquin in the Western Atlantic. Things have become more serious. As I had indicated last night, Joaquin appeared to be rapidly deepening. If you recall, Hurricane Hunter aircraft detected a much stronger storm with 105 mile per hour winds, and a minimum central pressure of 954 millibars, or 28.17 inches of Hg. Over a three hour span, the pressure dropped some 13 millibars.
Well, after the last report was posted to the blog, Joaquin further intensified. As of the 5:00 AM Advisory on Thursday morning from the National Hurricane Center, Joaquin’s winds have increased to 120 miles per hour, and the minimum central pressure in its eye has dropped another 6 millibars to 948 millibars, or 27.99 inches of Hg. So, in the last 12 hours (from 5:00 PM on Wednesday to 5:00 AM on Thursday), Joaquin’s pressure has dropped some 21 millibars, or about 0.63 inches of Hg (Mercury). Another concern is the uncertainty of the forecast.
When I woke up this morning, I checked my Facebook feed, and found a post by The Weather Channel’s Bryan Norcross, which was posted late last night. It basically points out that the situation with Joaquin is becoming more dire: A strengthening storm with no real consensus on where it will go. Yesterday, the models had a fairly wide range of solutions with the GFS and several other models pointing to a U.S. landfall from North Carolina’s Outer Banks to the Tidewater region of Virginia while the European, or ECMWF model, had the storm heading to the east toward Bermuda, and eventually out to sea. There are many players coming into this game right now, and that is what is creating the forecasting challenge.
The bottom line here is that although the National Hurricane Center has a cone of uncertainty pointing in general direction of the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, there is still a great deal of uncertainty in the forecast that the cone should be wider. In other words, all residents along the East Coast from Florida to Maine should pay close attention to this storm, and be prepared to act quickly if and when Joaquin makes a definitive move. Another concern with Joaquin is that if the storm does decide to head toward the Eastern Seaboard, it could pick up in forward speed like many East Coast Hurricanes in the past do. Two strong examples of that scenario off the top of my head would be the Long Island Express of 1938 and Hurricane Gloria, which struck Long Island and New England almost 30 years ago to the day (September 27, 1985).
When you have a strong hurricane moving up the East Coast in a mostly south to north trajectory, the forward motion adds to or subtracts from the speed of the sustained winds rotating around the storm’s center. For example, if you have a hurricane with say 120 mph winds like Joaquin, and it is moving up the coast at a rate of 45 to 50 mph, locations on the eastern side, particularly in the dreaded northeast quadrant of the storm, where you have the highest winds and surge, sustained winds could easily be 165 to 170 mph. Meanwhile, to the west, winds will slacken to only about 70 to 75 mph. Those were the types of situations that happened with the Long Island Express of 1938, where the storm was moving up to 70 miles per hour up the East Coast. To put a real fix on that type of motion, the Long Island Express was near Cape Hatteras at about 7:00 AM on September 21, 1938, and by 2:00 PM, it was crossing Long Island.
Now, while I have gone into a good deal of detail about this scenario, it may not happen at all. Instead, we could see a scenario similar to Hurricane Floyd, or Hurricane Irene, where the storm slowly creeps up the coast. A slow moving storm would be great news in terms of the wind and surge, but it would be a big problem in terms of rain. With hurricanes and tropical storms, rainfall is proportional to how fast the storm is moving. With both Floyd and Irene, the storms were slow movers, and as a result, there was a good deal of rain. On the other hand, Sandy was a bit more of a fast mover, and as a result, there was less rain. Getting back to the storm, here are the most recent particulars on Joaquin as of 5:00 AM on Thursday. The storm is located some 65 miles to the Southeast of San Salvador in the Bahamas, or 20 miles to the North of Samana Cays in the Bahamas.
Maximum sustained winds with Joaquin are up to 120 miles per hour with gusts in upwards of 150 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure is now down to 948 millibars, or 28.17 inches of Hg. The storm is moving to the West-Southwest at a slow pace of 7 miles per hour. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the Central Bahamas and the Northwestern Bahamas including: the Abacos, Berry Islands, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Bimini and Andros Island in the Bahamas. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Southeastern Bahamas excluding the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Andros Island. To repeat, there is still a great deal of uncertainty in the forecast with Joaquin. Not only in the projected path of the storm, but also with the intensity. It is imperative that residents along the East Coast of the United States pay very close attention to this storm.
Nor’easter Pays New Jersey a Visit On Thursday and Friday Followed By a Possible Threat from Hurricane Joaquin
After several months of mostly dry weather, New Jersey is about to make up for lost time. Already the Garden State has received anywhere from 1 to 2 inches of rain. Here at GWC in South Plainfield, the rainfall gauge has picked up 1.02 inches since Tuesday afternoon. Yesterday’s heavy rain also caused a power outage in the neighborhood where GWC is located.
The heavy rain over the last 24 hours is only the beginning of what could be a very serious one-two weather punch for not only New Jersey but for the Mid-Atlantic and New England States from the Carolinas on up into Maine. The first punch is expected to arrive during the day on Thursday in the form of a Nor’easter, which is expected to produce a plethora of weather related problems including localized flooding, coastal flooding, gusty winds, and even beach erosion.
Earlier on Wednesday, the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey issued a Coastal Flood Watch from Thursday night until late Saturday afternoon. There has already been some issues along the coast this week thanks to the astronomical high tide that accompanied the Harvest Moon and the lunar eclipse that took place on Sunday night, and lingered into Monday morning. Clouds began to develop on Tuesday morning, and haven’t left as the first wave of storm systems over the next week moved in.
According to the local forecast produced by the NWS office in Mount Holly, skies will remain cloudy on Wednesday night into early Thursday morning with rain developing during the day on Thursday. The steadier and heavier rains will begin on Thursday night, and continue through Friday and into Saturday with breezy conditions also developing. The probability of rain in the forecast goes from 50 percent during the day on Thursday to between 80 and 90 percent on Friday. Earlier in the week, one of the European model runs had indicated the possibility of up to 6 inches of rain for much of the Northeastern corridor. In addition, the conditions along the coast will begin to deteroriate.
With increasing surge along with wave heights between 6 to 10 feet along the Jersey Shore thanks to sustained winds between 14 and 21 miles per hour with gusts as high as gale force, coastal flooding is very likely. At high tide, the forecasted water level at Sandy Hook is expected to reach 7 feet while at Seaside Heights down in Ocean County, the predicted water level is expected to reach between 6.5 and 7 feet according to the NWS. Keep in mind, this is just for the nor’easter, which is expected to last into Saturday. The second punch of this one-two weather combo is anticipated to arrive sometime on Sunday into Monday.
Since September 15th, there has been an area of disturbed weather off the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic coast. The disturbance was noted over the weekend as it produced heavy surf along the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic. A couple days ago, this disturbance became TD #11, which then became Tropical Storm Joaquin on Tuesday. Late Tuesday night, Joaquin strengthened to become only the third hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic Season, but it could be the biggest threat yet to the United States mainland, which hasn’t experienced a landfalling major hurricane since 2005.
Currently, Joaquin is a Category One Hurricane stirring near the Bahamas with winds up to 85 miles per hour. Still in an area with favorable sea surface temperatures, and very little in the way of upper level wind shear to tear its developing thunderstorms apart, Joaquin is forecasted to strengthen to a major hurricane by sometime on Friday, and is also expected to make landfall somewhere in the area from the Carolinas to the Tidewater area of Virginia by Sunday. New Jersey, which has had recent impacts from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, has been in the cone of uncertainty for several forecast cycles now.
Although there is a lot of uncertainty on the forecast track of Joaquin, it is becoming more and more likely that this storm will make landfall somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic and affect the Garden State in some shape or form. Bottom line, pay attention to the weather forecasts on your local news as well as your most reliable weather app, and here at GWC and Hurricaneville. There is going to be a more comprehensive report on Joaquin shortly from Hurricaneville in the blog.
Here is a slideshow of photos taken of the wild and colorful skies over South Amboy and Laurence Harbor along the Jersey Shore in Middlesex County during the weekend of September 12-13, 2015. On the Saturday, ominous clouds developed as a storm system moved in from the south and west. Then, on Sunday, the clouds returned in the mid to late afternoon to combine with the setting sun for a colorful sunset.
Here is a short video of the colorful skies at sunset over South Amboy’s Waterfront Park on the 2nd Sunday in September 2015. The day started off nice with some sunshine, but then clouds gathered during the mid-afternoon and joined forces with the sun to produce quite a color display at sunset.