Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the Cuban province of Santiago de Cuba around 1:30am this morning. According to the National Hurricane Center, Sandy had 110mph winds and a minimum central pressure near 957mb at landfall. The storm came ashore just to the west of the city of Santiago de Cuba where sustained winds of 78mph gusting to 114mph with a pressure of 960mb was reported before the station stopped reporting so conditions were likely worse than this at the height of the storm. A storm surge between 4 and 7 feet likely occurred near this city.
Yesterday evening, Sandy exited the coast of Jamaica and underwent rapid intensification where the central pressure fell from 970mb to 954mb in six hours before its Cuba landfall. Sandy has since emerged from Cuba and has weakened slightly to a 100mph, 967mb storm. Some re-strengthening is already occurring as the storm heads northwards in an area that appears to be favorable for tropical cyclone development. The Bahamas are going to get the worst of Sandy today as this dangerous storm moves through the islands into the West Atlantic. As of 11am, Sandy had 105mph sustained winds and a minimum central pressure of 964mb.
Forecast track… Sandy is expected to move northwards through the central Bahamas today and northwestwards into Northwestern Bahamas this evening, nearing the Florida coast in response to an approaching trough over the central US. From there, Sandy should be turned back towards the north-northeast as the trough starts to move off the East coast of the US, without a Florida landfall, and start to move into the Western Atlantic near the US East coast. On Sunday, Sandy is expected to turn back to the north and approach New England as it gets absorbed into/absorbs the trough over the Northeastern States.
What to expect…
Caribbean: Tropical storm conditions are starting to subside in Cuba and Haiti so warnings have been discontinued there, but heavy rain lingers in Haiti and the Dominican Republic where total rainfall accumulations are expected to be 12-18inches with isolated areas of 20inches in the mountains – life threatening flash flooding and mudslides may result, especially on Hispaniola.
Bahamas: Hurricane conditions will be occurring in some of the islands of the central and northwestern Bahamas today and into tomorrow morning as Sandy moves through the island chain, Hurricane Warnings are in effect there. Storm surges up to 8 feet are possible in the Bahamas where onshore eyewall winds occur. Heavy rain of 3-6 inches is expected to cause some localized flooding in combination with storm surges.
Florida: Late tonight and on Friday, tropical storm conditions may occur on the east coast of Florida where Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings are in effect from the Florida Keys to north of Melbourne. Up to three inches of rain are possible in Florida from the squally outer bands of Sandy. Some modest sea level rises and extremely rough surf will cause extensive beach erosion and very dangerous rip currents as the storm passes.
Bermuda: Sandy may be large enough and head far enough eastwards to bring strong or even tropical storm force winds to Bermuda this weekend and into early next week along with some squally showers and very rough surf.
New England: Early next week, after the Sandy moves away from the Bahamas, Florida, and Bermuda, it is expected to take aim on New England as it merges into a stalled trough that is expected to set up there. This is after day five in the forecast, so there is a very high degree of uncertainty in this track, but even more so because this situation is so delicate that any slight change in the trajectory after day five will send the storm into a different area of the coast. Regardless, expect a very severe Ocean Storm that may be comparable to the Perfect Storm in 1991, except expect Sandy to move inland and bring coastal flooding, tropical storm or hurricane force winds, heavy flooding rain, and as cold air from Canada associated with the trough moves in, some snow in the interior Northeast, especially in the Mountains.
See the National Hurricane Center, the National Weather Service, the Canadian Weather Office, the Cuban Meteorological Agency, and your local Meteorological office for latest official updates on the storm’s progress.