Over the past week, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Caribbean, and then took an unprecedented path of devastation through the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Great Lakes before moving into Canada. The storm was an historic storm that rivaled memorable storms such as The Perfect Storm, Superstorm ‘93, The Long Island Express of 1938, The Great Hurricane of 1821, and Hurricane Donna. Below are some of the facts that I have collected on the storm.
Facts compiled from CNN, New York Times, USA Today, Huffington Post, WB11 (PIX11), WABC, WNBC, WCBS, and FOX5.
- Storm made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey.
- Minimum central pressure was 940 millibars, the lowest ever recorded north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
- The storm had tropical storm force winds over 1,000 miles wide. The entire system encompassed 2,000 miles.
- The storm combined with a cold front, blocking high pressure, and a strong dip in the jet stream to become a superstorm that brought all kinds of weather including high winds, rain, waves, storm surge, tornadoes, and even blizzards.
- A record storm surge occurred in New York Harbor at 13.88 feet in Battery Park. King’s Point had a surge of 13.3 feet. Sandy Hook, New Jersey also reported a surge of 13.3 feet.
- At least 33 people dead nationwide from the storm. Add that to 69 deaths in the Caribbean for a death toll of 102.
- 18 People Dead New York State including 10 in New York City.
- Six People Dead In New Jersey.
- Four Dead in Pennsylvania
- Some 60 million people were affected by this storm, or about one in every six Americans.
- Originally, some 8.2 million people without power. Still about 5 million people remain without power.
- Power failures in 17 states.
- Waves rose to 20.3 feet in the southern part of Lake Michigan.
- New York City’s mass transit system from the Subways, Buses, Metro North and Long Island Railroad trains were left out of service due to the storm.
- Initial estimates of $5 to $10 billion in damage, and that is expected to be much higher.
- Predicted losses of $20 billion in damage and another $10 to 30 billion in lost business from the storm by IHS Global Insight.
- Wall Street closed for two days, which is the longest it has been closed besides the days after 9/11. First time the NYSE has been closed for two straight days due to weather.
- Schools will be closed throughout New York City for a third straight day.
- Between 80 and 110 homes destroyed by fires fanned by the winds from Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point.
- Hackensack River in New Jersey went over its banks and flooded portions of Hackensack, South Hackensack, Little Ferry, and Moonachie.
- Con Edison Substation on 14th street suffered An Explosion knocking out power to some 250,000 NYC residents.
- Critically ill patients had to be evacuated from NYU’s Langone Medical Center in NYC.
- About 50 percent of Hoboken, New Jersey remains under water.
- Trees down throughout much of New Jersey.
- New Jersey secondary roads such as Routes 34, 35, 36, and 37 remain closed in Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties. Portions of Route 22 closed in Hunterdon County.
- Jersey Shore coastal communities such as Belmar, Bradley Beach, Avon By The Sea, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Seaside Heights, Lavallette, Ortley Beach, and Ocean City were left devastated by the storm surge from Sandy. Belmar’s famous boardwalk was destroyed as well as the one in Spring Lake. Famous rides in Seaside Heights were wiped out.
- Atlantic City’s boardwalk lost several blocks.
Storm’s Track And Strength Much Different Than Irene Was
Hours away from what could be an historic landfall along the Jersey Shore, Hurricane Sandy is expected to be a devastating storm. However, there are those around the Garden State and neighboring states that think it would be as bad. They will ride it out just like they did with Irene. There is just one problem with that, and that is Sandy is a much different animal than Irene was.
The storm’s track, size, momentum, and intensity is expected to be much different than Hurricane Irene was when it came up the coast. Differences between the two storms range from minimum central pressure, storm surge levels, and maximum sustained winds. Here is a breakdown of how Sandy is a much different threat than Irene.
Sandy’s projected track is going to be much different than Irene’s was. Normally, tropical storms and hurricanes run along the East Coast of the United States, and don’t directly impact New Jersey. Irene was a rare exception last year with two landfalls near Cape May and Little Egg Harbor. However, the bulk of the Garden State remained on the western side of the storm, which is traditionally not as strong due to the counterclockwise flow around the low.
Unfortunately, Sandy’s track will be much different and unprecedented, which could cause a lot of trouble. Right now, Sandy is moving to the Northeast, parallel to the Mid-Atlantic coast. However, there is a blocking pattern in place with an area of high pressure to the northeast of Sandy, which will prevent it from escaping into the Atlantic. On top of that, there is a cold front moving in from the west that will also pull the storm in. In response, Sandy will make a left turn into the Jersey Shore anywhere from Toms River south to Atlantic City.
What this projected landfall along the Jersey Shore means is that a lot of the Garden State including my hometown of South Plainfield in Middlesex County will face the storm’s notorious right front, or northeast quadrant. This is the part of the storm that has the strongest winds and roughest weather.
Storm Strength And Momentum
The strength of both Sandy and Irene are pretty much the same if you are looking at just the maximum sustained winds. Irene ended up being a tropical storm upon landfall with 70 mile per hour winds. Sandy currently has winds of 75 miles per hour, and could further strengthen to 80 mile per hour winds by landfall. However, Sandy is a much deeper storm in the sense that its pressure is very low than a typical Category One Hurricane.
Similar to Hurricane Isaac, which affected Louisiana back in August, Sandy is not your typical minimal hurricane with a minimum central pressure currently at 950 millibars, or 28.05 inches of Hg. This is crucial because remember there is a high pressure system to the north, and that is creating a very strong pressure gradient with the hurricane. A pressure gradient is a difference in pressure over a particular distance. The pressure gradient will also add to the wind while the low pressure itself will also help stir up the tide levels slightly.
Another difference between Sandy and Irene is the momentum each had prior to landfall. If you recall, Irene limped her way to the finish line last August thanks to the entrainment of dry air into the system. Irene was a ragged storm just hanging on to hurricane strength by the time it made land in Jersey. On the other hand, Sandy has been not only able to maintain its strength, it has also been able to deepen with a drop of 10 millibars in pressure alone on Sunday. It should be further energized when it moves across the Gulf Stream, and morphs into a hybrid storm as forecast.
Irene was a very large storm in its own right with tropical storm force winds stretching another 300 plus miles beyond the hurricane force winds. Compared to Sandy though, it is much smaller storm. As of the most recent advisory on Sunday night, Hurricane Sandy had hurricane force winds extending some 175 miles while tropical storm force winds extend some 520 miles.
What that means is that Sandy is about 1,000 miles wide. The storm is the second largest tropical cyclone in the Atlantic since 1988. Hurricane Igor, which occurred during the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season, is the largest in the last 25 years. Hurricane Gilbert was the vast Atlantic storm in 1988 when it was as big as the state of Texas after making landfall in the Yucatan and coming ashore again near Matamoros, Mexico.
The size is important because that will play a role in determining the duration of the rough weather conditions. It will also cover a broader area. The entire state will feel winds of 60 to 80 miles per hour at the height of the storm. Conditions will be felt as far west as Ohio and Indiana.
One Final Note
Besides the heavy rain, wind, waves, and storm surge being stirred up in the Mid-Atlantic from the Delmarva to New England, this system will also be unique in the sense that it will help produce heavy snowfall in Southwestern Virginia, West Virginia, Eastern Tennesse, and Western North Carolina along the Appalachian Mountains. In terms of its size, scope, power, and variety of weather, Sandy could equal and even surpass Superstorm ‘93.
Sandy’s Potential Visit Brings Back Memories Of October Snowstorm
The past two years have brought all kinds of extreme weather to New Jersey. From powerful snowstorms to floods and hurricanes to rare weather events, the Garden State has seen it all. Following a summer of numerous severe weather events, Jersey residents are preparing for what could be another historic October storm. Around this time last year, a rare snowstorm developed in New Jersey. The storm knocked out power for days in some parts of the Garden State. Snowfall amounts ranged from a few inches to over a foot.
This storm was a rare snowstorm for Jersey. It was the first significant snowstorm in the month of October in my lifetime. The storm brought 3.5 inches to South Plainfield and other locales in Northern Middlesex County, and caused power outages in the northern portion of South Plainfield, which left traffic lights out, slushy and icy unplowed roads, and houses in the dark and cold into the following morning. Further north in places such as Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties, snowfall amounts were much higher, and left many residents in those places without power for a number of days to over a week.
If Sandy does happen to come up into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast like some of the computer models have been suggesting, it will be a much different, but still a very rare and powerful storm. The storm has been projected to become a weather system along the lines of the 1991 Perfect Storm, a hybrid storm combining the elements of a tropical storm or hurricane with that of a nor’easter. What is left of Sandy is expected to bring a lot of rain, wind, waves, and surge into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The storm could end up being more damaging and devastating than Hurricane Irene was. A potentially very large and powerful storm, Sandy could make a harder hit on Jersey since it forecast to make a left turn into the Mid-Atlantic coast from Delaware Bay to the Jersey Shore.
The path into Delaware Bay and the Jersey Shore could bring the brunt of this hybrid storm system into the Garden State, and at a different angle than Hurricane Irene. The wind field with this storm will also be larger, and its effects could be longer lasting since it will track westward, and move fairly slowly. The slow motion will compound the effects of the wind as well as produce significant rainfall. The good thing is that there hasn’t been as much rain this month, or even this year for that matter. Less than three inches of rain has fallen so far this month. Rainfall amounts with Irene here in Northwestern New Jersey were only about five inches. However, prior to the storm, there was another 10 inches of rain in August 2011. As a matter of fact, the last six months of 2011 had more rainfall than the year to date total in 2012.
Last year’s October snowstorm was an example of how the weather has become wild and extreme here in the Garden State since September 2010. Over the last 25 months, we have seen all kinds of severe weather from hurricanes to blizzards to tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, derechos, torrential rains, and even stretches of dry weather and brush fires. A visit from Sandy early next week would be just another difficult blow for New Jersey residents to endure.
Storm Lasts 23 Days And Becomes Hurricane Three Times
In a season that has been a bit on the unusual side, Hurricane Nadine fit in perfectly. After the first three months of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season has seen a record pace for the number of storms, things quieted down significantly in September. Following an August that had 8 named storms and 5 hurricanes, there were only two named storms in September, which is normally the most active month of the season. However, they were both hurricanes including one that was a major storm, the only one of the season to date.
Hurricane Michael had wound up to be the strongest storm of the 2012 season with 115 mile per hour winds making it a Category Three storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Then, there was Nadine. The storm wasn’t the strongest one of the season. As a matter of fact, it was a storm that was on par with Hurricane Isaac, a strong Category One storm at peak intensity. However, the real story was Nadine’s resiliency. The storm lasted for 23 days in the Central and Northeastern Atlantic. A total of 88 advisories were issued on the storm.
Nadine became a hurricane on three separate occasions: September 14th, September 28th, and September 29th. The storm also weakened to a post-tropical cyclone on one occasions. Besides being a tropical storm, the storm also lost tropical characteristics and became a subtropical storm for a while. Its longevity put it in the record books as one of the longest lasting storms ever on record in the Atlantic. The storm ends up tied for fourth on the all time list with five other storms including Alberto (2000), Kyle (2002), and Ivan (2004).
The longest lasting storm ever on record was an unnamed storm back in 1899, which lasted 33 days. The longest lasting named storm on record was Hurricane Ginger, which lasted 30 days back in 1971. During the busy season of 1969, Inga lasted some 26 days to place third on the list. The storm made two passes at the Azores island chain prompting Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings issued for them from the Portuguese government. The first pass at the Azores occurred over the days of September 20th and 21st. The second pass came within the past few days.
Nadine was a very vast storm at times with tropical storm force winds extending some 275 miles from the center of circulation. At peak intensity, the storm had hurricane force winds extending 35 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reached out some 125 miles. With the development of Oscar over the past couple days, there are now 15 named storms that have developed this year with 8 hurricanes, and one major hurricane in the Atlantic in 2012.
Storm Shows That It’s Not Your Typical Category One Hurricane
At first glance one wouldn’t think that Isaac is worth comparing to Hurricane Katrina. With its tremendous size, significantly lower pressure, and higher wind speeds and seas, Katrina was able to devastate the Northern Gulf coast like no other storm to a region of the United States. It was the deadliest U.S. hurricane since 1928, and the costliest natural disaster in the country’s history. The storm is among the top six strongest on record in terms of pressure.
Then, there is the images from the suffering in New Orleans following the storm. People standing on roof tops, pleading for help in front of the Convention Center, the state of anarchy that existed throughout the Big Easy, and the mass exodus from the city in the days and weeks after the storm. With all of this to consider when comparing Katrina to Hurricane Isaac, one would think that it would be a no brainer. However, with some thought and closer inspection, people may have a different idea. There are several things to keep in mind when looking back on Katrina. The path of the storm, decrease in intensity just prior to landfall, and short duration prevented this historic storm from being even worse.
Exactly several years ago to the day (Imagine the irony of that!), Hurricane Katrina took a path that put it to the east of New Orleans, which put the Crescent City on the weaker western side of the storm. Some people forget that it was the Mississippi Gulf Coast that bore the brunt of Katrina’s vicious right front quadrant. New Orleans only had winds of 90 miles per hour, and there were initial thoughts that the Big Easy had withstood the blow from the storm. It was only after the levee system had failed and the flooding began in the Lower Ninth Ward that a catastrophe was unleashed. This time around, Isaac traveled along a path that took it to the west of New Orleans and much of Southeastern Louisiana took the brunt of the right front quadrant.
Consequently, there was more of a storm surge factor for places such as Plaquemines Parish, which may have suffered worse flooding from Isaac than Katrina. Levees were breeched in a couple locations, and residents that stayed behind were caught by surprise after thinking the storm wasn’t going to be as bad. Another factor that may make Isaac worse than Katrina in some respects is its duration. Due to its very slow forward motion, Isaac is doing two things: 1.) Dumping tremendous amounts of rain over a long period of time, and 2.) Bringing in more and more surge and that is putting pressure on the levee system, especially in Plaquemines and St. Bernard’s Parishes. Many of these levees stand outside the area fortified by the Army Corps of Engineers in the wake of Katrina.
Issac is also not your typical Category One storm. The hurricane only had winds of minimal hurricane force at 80 miles per hour. However, around the times of its two landfalls, Isaac had a minimum central pressure that dropped to 968 millibars, or 28.58 inches of Hg, which was a pressure more typical of a solid Category Two Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Combined with the large size of the storm, the pressure gave the storm energy that took a long time to wind down because of the vast expanse of it. Throw in the slow forward speed, and you had a relentless storm that pounded the coastline of the Northern Gulf. Over 24 hours after landfall, Isaac was still generating storm surge of 6 to 7 feet in some places.
The slow motion of Isaac is also helping to bring tremendous amounts of rain to Louisiana and Mississippi. Rainfall amounts are ready in the area of a foot or more in some places, and could end up between 20 and 30 inches. Meanwhile, Katrina was a relatively fast mover. The massive storm was out of the area within 24 hours. Isaac is expected to linger around Louisiana for another day after pounding it for about 30 hours now. One thing that could help prevent more substantial flooding from Isaac is the fact that the Mississippi is at very low levels due to the drought throughout much of the Midwestern portion of the country. The Mighty Mississippi was at more normal levels at the time of Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina will forever be embedded in our minds thanks to the power and fury its winds and surge possess as well as the heartbreaking images from its aftermath. However, for some along the Northern Gulf coast such as Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, Hurricane Isaac will be remembered as the little train that could, and was more devastating.
Latest Gulf Storm Shares Similarities With Memorable Storm From 2011
During the course of the day on Wednesday, I listened to the Weather Channel, and heard a storm surge analyst from the National Hurricane Center say that no two storms are the same. However, two storms can have some parallels. Isaac has shown that it is not your typical Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. While it may only have had winds of minimal hurricane force, its pressure, size, and duration have made it a very memorable storm for those who are dealing with it in the Northern Gulf states. Moreover, this latest storm of 2012 shares some interesting commonalities with a memorable storm from 2011.
Isaac has brought back some recollections of Hurricane Irene, a vast storm that was the first storm to make landfall in New Jersey since 1903 a year ago this week. Both storms were very vast storms with large wind fields. Isaac grew to have hurricane force winds extend some 60 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reached out some 185 miles. Irene was actually larger with hurricane force winds extending 125 miles while tropical storm force winds stretched out some 240 miles.
These large circulations produced a good deal of surge and wave action. Isaac’s was much bigger because of the shallow coastline that exists in the Northern Gulf. Storm surge amounts with Isaac have been as high as 11 feet above normal in places just outside of New Orleans. The surge has been reported to be worse to the southeast in Plaquemines Parish, where parish President Billy Nungesser indicated that the flooding there was worse than during Hurricane Katrina.
Another similarity shared by these two storms is that they were both Category One storms with very low pressures at landfall. When Irene came through New Jersey last summer, its pressure was as low as 970 millibars or 28.63 inches of Hg. Prior to making landfall, Isaac bottomed out at 968 millibars, or 28.58 inches of Hg. These pressures were much lower than the usual threshold for a minimal Category One Hurricane. Usually pressures for minimal Cat One storms are about 985 to 988 millibars. The central pressures of Isaac and Irene were more characteristic of a Category Two storm.
The problem that these two storms had was the fact that they were so vast that they had a tough time trying to tighten up and get stronger. Isaac dealt with this problem throughout almost all of its storm life while Irene was plagued by it after it had gone through the Bahamas and trekked north toward the Carolinas and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic. A big difference between these two storms was that Isaac was like a marathon runner that sprinted his way to the finish line while Irene was one that limped her way to the finish. Another issue that both of these storms had to contend with was dry air entrainment.
Isaac battled dry air for just about its entire life while Irene began dealing with the dry air a little while after it moved through the Bahamas. Irene had indicated signs of strengthen after moving out of the Northern Bahamas, and emerging into the Gulf stream, but then the eye faded, and gradually, dry air began to take the life out of the storm, which was the saving grace for the East Coast. The Northern Gulf were also spared a worse fate from Isaac thanks to the dry air. Without ample water vapor in the atmosphere around it, Issac struggled to generate the thunderstorms needed for better organization and strengthening.
In addition to these similarities, and the obvious common trait they share as the I named storm for their respective years, they were both storms that made double landfalls in a state. Irene made two landfalls in New Jersey at Cape May and Little Egg Harbor while Isaac made two landfalls in Louisiana at Grand Isle and just west of Port Fourchon. There are differences though between these two storms. Irene was a major hurricane at one point in its lifetime having winds as high as 120 miles per hour while Isaac never got as strong as 80 miles per hour. Although both produced a lot of rain, Isaac generated much higher rainfall totals since its forward motion was much slower than Irene.
Isaac could end up putting down some 20 to 30 inches of rain in some parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. In terms of its size and duration, Isaac is quite similar to Hurricane Frances, which grinded its way through Florida back in 2004. Frances was a much bigger wind producer though.
Recalling Storm That Came Up East Coast One Year Ago
As I walked along the walkways at South Amboy’s Waterfront Park on Sunday night, I could see the waves coming in off the ocean. Despite being driven by an easterly wind, the waves were much smaller, and the tides were much lower. There was no storm surge developing in Raritan Bay. Skies were mostly clear with a near full moon illuminating the sky. It was a much calmer picturesque evening than it was exactly a year ago on this date.
On the evening of Saturday, August 27, 2012, I traveled over to Waterfront Park to take a look at the waves and surge being driven in by the large circulation that was Hurricane Irene. The ninth named storm of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season was the first major hurricane of the year before gradually weakening under the weight of dry air entrainment. Despite the decay, Irene was still a potent storm for an area that hadn’t experienced a direct hit from a hurricane in over a century. Tornadoes had touched down in parts of Delaware. Winds are still gusting over minimal hurricane force.
I had been at work during the day, and had gone out during my breaks to take pictures and video from the storm as it moved up the coast. After work, I drove the car onto Route 440, and took the exit to Route 9 before heading into South Amboy. Rain was already pouring by this point as I arrived shortly before 8:00 PM. As a matter of fact, by the time I was ready to go home, my clothes, especially my pants were soaked from the rain. Big drops of rain were falling and getting into my eyeglasses and onto the lens of my camera. Winds are blowing at a fairly decent clip, but not as strong as they would get when the storm drew closer to New Jersey later in the evening.
Unable to get into Waterfront Park at the main entrance since it was closed due to the storm, I ventured over to the other side of the waterfront where there are town houses that lead to the back of the park. There I saw the storm surge driving the water from Raritan Bay further into the park and the beachfront adjacent to the town houses. I was amazed by what I was seeing. I had come over to see how Raritan Bay was going to behave since The Weather Channel’s Hurricane Expert, Dr. Bryan Norcross had indicated that the storm was going to funnel the water into the bay.
I took my camera and shot video of the raging Raritan as I had called it in a blog post from that night. As I was filming, someone approached me and said to head down further. I went about halfway, and could see the water advancing further than I had ever seen there before. Previous times I had been to Waterfront Park over the past five years, I had seen much more tranquil waters even with coastal lows coming up the coast. Winds were gusty. It was definitely a sight to see. I decided to leave, and got in my car for the drive home, which was an adventurous one thanks to the pouring rain causing major ponding and flooding even on Interstate 287.
It was a taste of things to come. Winds continued to gradually pick up. You could hear the wind moaning outside as the evening wore on in Northwestern Middlesex County. I was busy watching news updates on the storm, blogging, and putting together the video I shot from Raritan Bay. While all this was happening, a huge problem was taking shape. The heavy rains from Irene, which would eventually total 5.34 inches here in South Plainfield, was rapidly becoming too much for the already saturated ground to handle. Prior to Irene, there had been about 10 inches of rain that had fallen in town. It wound up being the wettest August on record here in New Jersey. The great neighborhood flood was underway.
By morning, the pressure had fallen to 28.63 inches of Hg, which is the lowest pressure ever recorded at GWC. Over in the backyard, significant flooding had taken place and the old mulberry tree that had stood the test of time before weakening in recent years, gave way to the wind and saturated ground around it. It came down on the neighbor’s fence causing some damage to it. Flood waters were rising in the basement as water from the nearby swamp was converging with the flood waters already coming from down the street. The flood waters had advanced the furthest ever in the 40 years that I had lived in the neighborhood. The enthusiasm I had for the storm had quickly transformed to fear and dread.
Not knowing how high the flood waters were going to get in the basement, my family packed whatever we could, and evacuated to a hotel a few miles away. There we stayed for the better part of five days. Parts of the basement suffered damage. The hot water heater, furnace, washing machine, and dryer all had to be replaced. The foundation had to have work done on it. Irene had marked the first time that we had to apply for any sort of assistance from FEMA. A year later though, all of the damage from Irene is a distant memory. The storm made two landfalls in New Jersey. Just as many as in the previous 190 years. New York City had its first landfall since 1893. Parts of New Jersey such as Paterson, Little Falls, and Pompton Lakes were hit hard by the flooding.
Further north in Vermont, there was devastating floods that carried away bridges. However, in Central Jersey, the modifications to the Green Brook Flood Plain in the wake of the devastation to Bound Brook by Tropical Storm Floyd in 1999 had prevented the Raritan River from going too far over its banks and leaving downtown Bound Brook relatively unscathed. As quickly as the flood waters rose in Northwestern Middlesex County, they had disappeared. I was amazed at how quickly the water had receded, especially after all the rain that had fallen in August 2011. There would be another scare as torrential rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee followed a week later, but everything ended up ok.
It was something that I never thought I would see in my lifetime, and it was definitely something that I would never forget.
Westward Shift In Track Has Isaac Making Landfall Along Northern Gulf Around Anniversary Of Katrina
Four years ago around this time, the city of New Orleans was under the gun thanks to Hurricane Gustav, which had strengthened to near Category Five intensity prior to landfall in Western Cuba. It was a harsh reminder of the pain inflicted on this city from Hurricane Katrina just three years before. The Big Easy was eventually able to dodge that bullet as Gustav weakened to a Category Two storm prior to landfall over Cocodrie, Louisiana.
NOLA experienced another similar threat a few years prior to Katrina when Hurricane Lili made a move toward the Crescent City in the 2002 Atlantic Hurricane Season. However, the storm thankfully weakened from a Category Four storm to a Category Two system before making landfall along the western edge of Vermillion Bay. With Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Murepas, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico surrounding it, New Orleans, which also sits below sea level is always susceptible to hurricanes.
The threat is back on again as Tropical Storm Isaac’s forecast track has gradually taken a more westward shift over the past few days. The storm has recently emerged in the Southeastern Gulf of Mexico to the southwest of Key West. Now, there is nothing but the warm water of the Gulf between the storm and New Orleans as well as coastal Mississippi towns such as Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Pass Christian, and Biloxi. Besides the irony of the forecast track and timing, another similarity between Katrina and Isaac has been the size of the storms. Issac is a very vast system much like Katrina was, and that could lead to high seas, waves, and storm surge along the coast at these parts come mid-week.
The saving grace right now is the fact that the dry air flowing in from the southwest is preventing Isaac from getting its act together. By the time Katrina had left Key West and the rest of the Florida Keys, the storm was well formed and already deepening. Isaac is still very disorganized with a lopsided shape and structure thanks to the lack of moisture on its southern half to feed its heat engine. However, things could change if the upper level low responsible for the dry air entrainment on the south side of Isaac pulls away from the storm and allows it to develop more moist air on its southern half. With the high octane waters of the Gulf as well as light upper level winds, the ingredients are there for significant strengthening if Isaac can get better organized.
Katrina was the deadliest storm to hit the U.S. mainland in decades with some 1,800 people dead. Once a Category Five storm, and one of the strongest storms on record in the Atlantic, Katrina came ashore as a strong Category Three storm near Buras, Louisiana before making a second landfall along the Louisiana and Mississippi border. The devastation caused by a record storm surge, the highest ever recorded in North America, made Katrina the costliest hurricane and natural disaster in U.S. history, shattering the previous mark set by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
A Million Still Without Power In Seven States
After midnight on Saturday morning, I was putting together an edition of the GWC Video Report, and had noticed on the regional radar that there was a powerful storm rolling through the Eastern United States. What happened was a Derecho emerged from a cluster of thunderstorms in Northeastern Iowa on Friday morning.
The derecho picked up momentum as it rolled through the Chicago Metro area, and pushed eastward into Indiana. The storm grew in size. Winds gusted to 91 miles per hour in places such as Fort Wayne while further east in Ohio, several places reported wind gusts of over 80 miles per hour. Traveling on the periphery of high pressure off the east coast of the United States that was responsible for a second heat wave of the young summer, the derecho barreled through West Virginia, and ultimately ended up bringing 71 mile per hour wind gusts to the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C.
In total about 5 million people were left without power originally from the derecho, which traveled over 650 miles and produced over 800 storm reports. Five days after the storm, approximately 20 percent of those affected still do not have power. Rural sections of West Virginia are not expected to have power restored until this weekend. This is forcing many to deal with the searing heat and humidity without air conditioning and water.
New Jersey wasn’t immune from the storm. Places in Atlantic County, on the northern end of what became a 350 mile wide storm, was placed under a State of Emergency. Trees and power lines were downed across the county. Nearby in Cumberland County, the city of Millville has already spent nearly $300,000 since Friday’s storm. There are still 17 streets in the city with hanging power lines. Eleven roads still remain closed throughout Cumberland County. Over 200,000 people were left without power.
Nationwide, there have been 20 deaths from the combination of the relentless heat and humidity, and this tremendous storm. Two of those deaths occurred in Pittsgrove down in Salem County, New Jersey when a tree fell on a camp site killing two children. Winds gusted over 70 miles per hour in South Jersey, which caused damage that an Atlantic City electrical worker to declare that the damage there was much worse than what was caused by Hurricane Irene in August 2011.
Already, the storm system has been ranked by the Weather Channel as one of the top five derechos of all time with the likes of Superstorm 1993, and the multiple derechos that developed during the deadly heatwave in the Midwest and Eastern U.S. in mid-July 1995. Derecho is a term for a is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Derechos can thrive in the type of weather environment that much of the United States has been dealing with recently.
Sunday’s Severe Thunderstorm Leaves Many In The Dark
There hasn’t been much in the way of severe weather this spring. Despite an uptick in rainfall over the past two months, no serious thunderstorms have impacted Northwestern Middlesex County. However, for the second Sunday in a row, the region was threatened by a severe weather outbreak.
On June 3rd, a thunderstorm cell developed near Annandale in Hunterdon County along a small line of storms pushing eastward through the Garden State during the mid-afternoon period. The storm cell put Somerset County and Northwestern Middlesex County under the gun. Fortunately, the storm fizzled out before making a big impact in South Plainfield, Middlesex Borough, and Dunellen.
A week later, another severe storm threatened the region. This time the thunderstorm cell developed in Northwestern New Jersey near Lake Hopatcong, and pushed its way southward through Morris County into Somerset and Middlesex County during the late afternoon and early evening. The National Weather Service office in Mount Holly posted a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Somerset and North Central Middlesex County. Northwestern Middlesex County was in the bullseye again.
Moving to the south at 30 miles per hour, the storm produced 60 mile per hour winds that downed trees in places such as Dover, Rockaway Township, and Mendham in Morris County. The thunderstorm also produced dangerous cloud to ground lightning and heavy rains. Warned areas included Northeastern Hunterdon County, South Central Morris County, Somerset County, and North Central Middlesex County.
The Star-Ledger reported that high winds knocked down trees in Dover, Bernards Township, Harding, and Wharton, and also produced numerous power outages that left some 11,000 people in the dark according to Jersey Central Power & Light. Hardest hit of all these areas appeared to be Jefferson Township with some 5,000 residents without power. Power Outages affected such places as the Rockaway Mall and the Hilton Hotel in Morris County according to WABC7 in New York. The storm also produced flooding that hampered traffic on Route 80 near Roxbury according to NJ.com.
In total, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman Oklahoma received three severe weather reports from New Jersey on Sunday. One was in Sparta in Sussex County for downed tree limbs, another was in Hopatcong in Morris County for widespread trees and power lines downed, and the third and final one was in Bernardsville in Morris County for more downed trees and wires. There were a total of 93 storm reports nationwide on Sunday including four reports of tornadoes, 14 reports of hail, and 75 reports of high winds.
« Previous entries ·