10.30.12

Devastation Across Jersey Mindboggling

Posted in Commentary, Storm Aftermath, Storm Preparation, Tracking the Tropics at 10:39 pm by gmachos

Daylight Reveals A Forever Changed Jersey Shore

A much anticipated first light for Jersey residents brought visions of disbelief and heartbreak.  From the tidal flooding in Hoboken to levee breach and raging Hackensack river in Bergen County to the downed trees, dismantled traffic lights, and mangled street signs in Middlesex County to the heavy damage to many towns along the Jersey Shore, there is no way to put into words how devastating Hurricane Sandy was to the Garden State.  A weary Governor Chris Christie was emotional when speaking about the Jersey Shore, especially Belmar, Seaside Heights, and Island Beach State Park, places where he has spent summers during his childhood and the past several years.

I’ve been to Island Beach State Park twice since April.  Those two visits were my first ever to that beach.  A friend had brought it up to me when I was considering places to travel to during my off-season from covering high school football and basketball.  I enjoyed both of my trips there, and have pictures from both visits that you can see in the GWC Photo Gallery.  I was particularly impressed by the size, shape, and quality of the dunes there.  They had a majestic quality to them, and it comes out in the pictures I took of them.  In June, I traveled the whole length of that beach to Barngeat Inlet, and viewed Barnegat Light.  To hear that the beach there was significantly damaged was sad to say the least.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve made many trips to the Jersey Shore.  Originally, I traveled mostly to Sandy Hook and nearby Sea Bright.  Six years ago, I began taking trips to Waterfront Park in South Amboy and the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge.  However, over the past year I’ve visited many coastal communities from Avon By The Sea, Belmar, Keyport, Keansburg, Manasquan, Port Monmouth, Red Bank, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and Union Beach.  I had made plans to make more visits in the future.  While I’m disappointed that I will not be able to get down there in the near future, I intend to head down there once things return to normal, and the iconic features that make those locales so special are rebuilt better than before.

I traveled around South Plainfield by foot and by car, and was amazed by the damage here even though it pales in comparison to places such as Hoboken, Moonachie, Sayreville, and the Jersey Shore.  Traffic lights ripped off their supports, and thrown to the street like toys.  I noticed several of them down and disfigured just around the Stelton and Hadley Road areas alone.  Leaves, tree limbs, and large branches scattered about like rubbish.   A number of large trees were uprooted with some lying in the street.  Other trees such as the ones in the front of the hotel I’m staying at were bent over by the force of the high winds on Monday night.  Roads were cut off, or closed to traffic. Street signs were bent over, mangled, or even uprooted while store signs were ripped apart.  Some of the store signs were thrown many yards from where they originated.  

I’ve taken pictures of much of the damage, and plan to take more over the next couple days.  Like many of the recent disasters that the Garden State has endured, the devastation was almost surreal. After 9/11 I felt like my life and the way we live was altered forever.  Following Hurricane Irene a year ago, I understood how these disasters are more than just numbers, pictures, and video on television, and what it was like to have to endure what others have been enduring from disasters across this country.  This time, I find myself not really surprised by what happened, but in awe.  The damage is almost surreal.  Even though New Jersey lies in a position along the East Coast of the United States that leaves it relatively immune from tropical storms and hurricanes, Irene and Sandy are reminders that even the Garden State is like any other coastal state in the U.S., and vulnerable to tropical cyclones.

Back in 2001, I had put together a special series of reports on the state of Tri-State Preparedness for a tropical storm or hurricane.  Then, I had mentioned how insurance companies had studied the possibility of a major hurricane making landfall along the Jersey Shore and producing a devastating surge to many of Jersey’s coastal communities as well as New York City, and possibly causing tens of billions in damage.  Eleven years later, I’m sad to see that this scenario has become reality.

Facts From Superstorm Sandy

Posted in Storm History, Storm Facts, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 10:34 pm by gmachos

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.

10.29.12

Sandy Truly A Superstorm Of  Epic Proportions

Posted in Commentary, Hurricane Intensity, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 11:46 pm by gmachos

Hurricane/Nor’easter Makes Mark Comparable To Superstorm ‘93

Hurricane Sandy is done as a tropical cyclone, but it will be a storm long remembered by many, especially in the Mid-Atlantic States of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and even Pennsylvania.  Of all the storms that I have lived through including Irene last year, this was the worst.  Not just the worst tropical storm or hurricane, but the worst storm period.  The legacy of Sandy here in New Jersey, New York, and Long Island will be the wind and surge.

This large and powerful storm produced tremendous winds by Jersey standards with winds whipping frantically for several hours on Monday night.  The winds had been picking up during the afternoon, but then around the 5:00 PM hour, they appeared to abate in Atlantic City and New York City.  About a hour later though they dramatically picked up again, and increased to as high as 100 miles per hour.  Here at the hotel that I am staying at, the winds have been relentless, and it felt like they were going to bust through the window in my room.

By the way, the winds aren’t going to slacken for a while either.  The slow moving storm will cause the high winds to linger for at least another 24 hours.  Along the coast, there was the surge.  A record surge was set in New York Harbor at King’s Point (13.3 feet) and Battery Park (13.7 feet).  Sandy Hook also was hit with a record surge of 13.3 feet.   The previous record for surge in New York Harbor was from the 1821 hurricane. The barometric pressure fell to 940 millibars, or 27.76 inches of Hg before the storm turned post-tropical and came ashore.  At GWC, the barometric pressure fell to 28.42 inches of Hg (Mercury) or 962 millibars, which shattered the record of 970 millibars set in Hurricane Irene last year.

The storm has left New York City as well as many locales around New Jersey reeling.  Flooding has occurred in many parts of the area, especially near the coast.  Trees have fallen on people.  A crane has partially collapsed in Midtown Manhattan.  Water poured into the PATH station in Hoboken.  Fires have broken out.  Transformers have blown all across the region.  Almost 5 million people have been left without power around the region.   Trees were down across Route 18 near Sayreville.  Power was out throughout much of Sayreville, Old Bridge, South Amboy, and Colts Neck.  This storm could end up making Hurricane Katrina look like a walk in a park.

It was a very well predicted storm.  Much like Superstorm ‘93 was almost 20 years ago, Sandy was picked up quite well in the models, and even in terms of its intensity and conversion from a tropical to post-tropical system.  The storm lived up to the hype and was well behaved from a forecast standpoint.  The similarities between Sandy and Superstorm ‘93 didn’t stop there.  Sandy was a storm that had winds stretch across some 1,000 plus miles at peak size.  It covered not only the Mid-Atlantic, but also New England, and the Great Lakes States. Approximately 60 million people were affected. Similarly, Superstorm ‘93 affected some 26 states when it was all said and done.  Like Superstorm ‘93, Sandy brought a variety of weather including a record storm surge, tornadoes, and blizzard conditions to some of the affected areas.

Keep in mind that we are still scratching the surface of this weather event.   The true scope of the devastation from this storm will begin to be revealed with daylight on Wednesday.  Many things will not sort themselves out until later in the week.  Nevertheless, if we are just talking the shear meteorological numbers, Hurricane Sandy, or Superstorm Sandy has truly been a historic storm.  Something I as well as all of you will long remember.

Hurricaneville Storm Footage–October 29, 2012–Hurricane Sandy’s Waves Pound Raritan Bay

Posted in Storm Experiences, Storm Footage, YouTube Videos, Tracking the Tropics at 4:53 pm by gmachos

Here is storm footage of the winds and waves battering Raritan Bay at South Amboy’s Waterfront Park. At the time this video was taken, the storm surge, or tide levels were already at or slightly exceeding that from Hurricane Irene in August 2011. Hurricane Sandy strengthened to have 90 mile per hour winds, and a minimum central pressure of 940 millibars, or 27.76 inches of Hg, which is just two millibars shy of the mark by the Long Island Express of 1938.

Worst Fears Beginning To Be Realized As Sandy Approaches

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm Preparation, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics at 10:10 am by gmachos

Storm Strengthens, Makes Turn Toward Mid-Atlantic Coast, And Picks Up Speed

Upon waking up this morning, I could hear the winds picking up. The pressure had dropped to 29.38 inches of Hg, or about 995 millibars. However, that was a drop of nearly a half an inch since yesterday morning. The bigger news awaited me as I got to my computer and got on the internet. Sandy had strengthened. Winds had increased to 85 miles per hour while the barometric pressure had dropped to 946 millibars, or 27.94 inches of Hg. The storm had tightened up much like a figure skater does when he or she pulls in her arms. Hurricane force winds still extended some 175 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds only reached out about 485 miles after being at 520 miles on Sunday.

Over the next few hours on Monday morning, another couple ingredients with Sandy began to come into play. The storm began to make its westerly turn toward the coast, and pick up in forward speed. So basically, we have a strengthening storm that is now moving toward the Mid-Atlantic coast as predicted, and is picking up in forward speed. The thing you don’t want to hear when trying to evacuate ahead of a hurricane is a strengthening storm that is moving faster. As of the 8:00 AM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Sandy was located about 265 miles to the Southeast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Now moving to the North-Northwest at 20 miles per hour, we are anticipating a landfall sometime within the next 13 hours.

A record surge is expected in places such as New York Harbor, Sandy Hook, and other locations along the Jersey Shore. The forecast is calling for a surge between 6 to 11 feet in New York Harbor, Raritan Bay, and Long Island Sound. If the storm hits within the next 13 hours, it will make an impact around the time of high tide, which is already enhanced by the presence of the full moon. You couldn’t ask for worse timing. Another thing to keep in mind with the surge along the Jersey Shore, Raritan Bay, New York Harbor, and Long Island Sound, and that is the fact that the coastline of New Jersey and New York meet at right angle, which will help funnel in the water to New York City, and Northeastern New Jersey. Winds are expected to gust between 60 and 80 miles per hour, and the National Hurricane Center has indicated that Sandy could strengthen to 90 miles per hour.

The worst of the weather is expected to begin around mid-afternoon, or about 2:00 to 3:00 PM EDT. Winds, which are already gusting between 30 and 50 miles per hour, are expected to ramp up significantly at that time along with the rain. Here in South Plainfield, the pressure has fallen further to 29.21 inches of Hg, or about 989 millibars. Already about a quarter of an inch has fallen from the storm. Winds have been steady at 20 miles per hour with gusts to 40 miles per hour. Oh, by the way, if you are in the Great Lakes region, you’re not going to be immune from this storm with cold air being pulled down, the storm is expected to bring snow to parts of the Appalachians including West Virginia and Western Virginia.

You know this is a different animal when a tropical system is going to bring snow on its western flank.

Sandy Will Be Worse Than Irene

Posted in Commentary, Storm History, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Safety, Hurricane Anomalies, Tracking the Tropics at 1:17 am by gmachos

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.

Storm Track

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.

Storm Size

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.

10.28.12

Hurricaneville Storm Footage–October 28, 2012–Sandy Stirs Up The Waves In Raritan Bay

Posted in General, Storm Experiences, GWC News, YouTube Videos, Tracking the Tropics at 11:41 pm by gmachos

Here is storm footage from Waterfront Park in South Amboy as Hurricane Sandy barreled her way up the Eastern Seaboard in late October 2012. Surf was getting rough in Raritan Bay where this video was shot. Waves had been on the increase since Saturday afternoon prior to the storm. Winds are increasing out of the North and Northeast, and it was a chilly wind, which was uncharacteristic of a hurricane.

10.26.12

Question: What Is A Frankenstorm?

Posted in General, Commentary, GWC News, Tracking the Tropics at 4:03 pm by gmachos

Government Agencies And Media Give Hybrid Sandy A Halloween Feel

People love to give names to storms. You’ve heard it before. Back in 1993, it was Superstorm 1993, or the Storm of the Century. Same thing was said of Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The winter storms of 2010 were given the name Snowmageddon by President Obama, and then this time last year, our little October Snowstorm was given the moniker of Snowtober. Now, we have Hurricane Sandy, which is now a minimal hurricane, and soon to be less of a tropical entity, and more of a hybrid entity.

On Thursday night and early Friday morning, I was watching the news on several different media outlets, both local and national, and heard the term Frankenstorm used to describe Sandy. Then, on Friday morning, I take a look at the front page of the newspaper, and I see the title of “Rise of Frankenstorm.” Why not call it Young Frankenstorm? I say that facetiously, but there is some truth to it because the storm is still evolving. Obviously some people feel that by calling Sandy a Frankenstorm, it makes the storm sound more sinister and dire, which could help getting the word out to people about it. In addition, Halloween is around the corner so it gives weather, which is not as popular or sexy a topic to most people as say sports or entertainment can be, more appeal to the masses.

There have been other terms given to Sandy over the past 24 hours as well such as The Perfect Storm after the 1991 storm that had Hurricane Grace as a component, and was a subject of a book by Sebastian Junger, which eventually became a movie starring George Clooney. There is also the term hybrid that I’ve been using since it has a little of both tropical and mid-latitude cyclone characteristics. Snow hurricane, or snowicane is another term although, I would find that a bit unlikely here in Jersey since temperatures aren’t going to be cold enough to produce snow. It could produce the white stuff in more mountains areas along the Appalachians such as West Virginia, Virgina, and Central Pennsylvania, where you have higher elevation.

And with a storm like Sandy, a potentially unprecedented weather event bearing down on the largest and most densely populated region of the country, using the moniker of Frankenstorm is an attempt to capture people’s attention. Using names for hurricanes and tropical storms have become commonplace now. These storms come in stages so it is appropriate to use names to describe them. It also makes it easier for people to identify with and remember, especially in the Caribbean and Central America, where English is a second language.

There has been some backlash to the use of the term, Frankenstorm to describe Sandy though. CNN announced on Friday that it will not be using the term Frankenstorm in its broadcasts. One of the lead meteorologists, Chad Myers indicated that it “trivializes” the storm, which is already responsible for 20 deaths in Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. Myers and CNN’s reasoning for this policy is a valid one because it may give people the idea that the storm is a joke, or shouldn’t be taken seriously. With the potential damage and destruction from this storm, a possibly difficult aftermath to follow in a part of the country that has been quite lucky during this active cycle of tropical storms and hurricanes, and a population that tends to be more cynical about such storms in this part of the world, the last thing you want to do is trivialize it.

Continuing on the idea of naming storms, the Weather Channel is taking things a step further by using names to describe significant winter storms, which has caused some controversy in recent days. TWC recently announced that it is going to begin giving names to winter storms this coming season. Forecasters and specialists there believe this is a good way to get the word out to the public on the severity of a snowstorm. When I was younger, there was a weatherman at FOX5 in New York named Hurricane Schwartz that used to give nor’easters and winter storms names. One problem meteorologists have with this though is that Nor’easters and blizzards don’t form in stages like tropical entities do. They are also hard to predict in the sense that a winter storm might not always bring snow. Sometimes, temperatures will be warm enough for the precipitation to come down as rain instead.

Another Rare October Storm Could Be In Store For Jersey

Posted in Commentary, Storm History, GWC News at 1:17 am by gmachos

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.

10.25.12

Very Active October In The Tropics

Posted in Commentary, Hurricane Anomalies, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 10:57 pm by gmachos

Hurricane Sandy Highlights Big Month In Atlantic

Statistically speaking, the Atlantic Hurricane Season usually begins to ramp down in late October, but not this year. Over just the past few days, there have been two named storms with one of them becoming a strong hurricane. The development of Sandy and Tony have capped what has been quite an active October for the Tropical Atlantic. With six days left in the month, there have been five named storms and two hurricanes.

While October does have a second peak in tropical activity towards the middle of the month, the chances of storms and hurricanes does diminish. The peak of the season usually occurs in August and September, and perhaps the first week or so of October. The 2012 season has been an unusual one though with 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes, but only one major hurricane. Looking deeper into the numbers, August had 8 named storms and 5 hurricanes. September only had two named storms and hurricanes with one of them being the only major storm of the year in Michael.

This October was more active than September was with Rafael and Sandy being the month’s hurricanes. Most of the storms this month have been benign such as Oscar, Patty, and Tony. Rafael did go through the Windward Islands with a blow, and came close to Bermuda. Sandy could make this a memorable October by tropical standards if she lives up to her potential. Not since the Perfect Storm in 1991, has there been such a powerful storm to threaten the Northeast. Keep in mind that the Perfect Storm also didn’t make landfall anywhere. Accompanied by astronomical high tides, an approaching cold front, and a strong dip in the jet stream, what is left of Sandy could make an indelible mark on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast for years to come. The 2012 season has been unusual throughout with October only being the latest example.

Despite being an unusually quiet month by Atlantic tropical standards, September did produce Hurricane Nadine, which was one of the longest lasting storms on record at 23 days. In that same month, Michael became the strongest storm of the season at minimal Category Three intensity with 115 mile per hour winds, the weakest major hurricane in a season since 1994. Among those eight storms and five hurricanes in August was Hurricane Isaac, the first landfalling hurricane in the United States since Hurricane Ike in 2010. Isaac was also unique in the sense that it was a powerful Category One storm with a minimum central pressure on the order of a strong Category Two system. Isaac ended up hitting the extreme southern parishes of Louisiana harder than the devastating Hurricane Katrina did. The 2012 season was supposed to be average to below average. Instead, it has defied the odds, and provided some interesting trivia.

The season began prematurely with two storms in late May, and two more in the first month of the season for four by the end of June. Things appeared to return to normal with none in July, which was still unusual in the sense that during this active stretch from 1995 until now, there always has been some sort of storm to develop in July. However, by the end of August, there was the second fastest J and L storms. Then, there was a quiet September followed by a busy October. For a while, the 2012 season challenged the historic 2005 season in terms of the number of named storms. It has equaled the mark for named storms, and almost has the same number of hurricanes as the 1995 season did.

There is still a bit more than a month left in this unusual season. Could more surprises be on the way? With how this season has gone so far, I wouldn’t be startled in the least if more were to occur.

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