Hurricane Sandy pulls out of the Bahamas

Hurricane Sandy over the Northwestern Bahamas with 80mph winds, the cloud pattern shows a highly sheared storm – and one that is transitioning to something more of a hybrid between tropical and extra-tropical. GOES-14 high resolution 1-minute rapid scan satellite imagery. around 12pm October 26th 2012.

Hurricane Sandy has been blasting through the Bahamas with some of the Central and Northwestern islands seeing a direct hit from Sandy and hurricane conditions as a result. Overnight, high southerly and south-southwesterly wind shear commenced over the center of Sandy. This has disrupted the core structure of the hurricane and injected dry air near the center – starting its transition into a more extra-tropical structure.

Meanwhile, the cleanup begins in the Caribbean islands already affected and, unfortunately, reports of death and destruction have come in from Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. In total, more than 20 people have reportedly died as a result of the storm.

Forecast Track… Sandy made the turn to the Northwest yesterday that had it skirt the northern Bahamas delivering hurricane conditions there. This morning, its forward speed has slowed and it has turned back to the North. Tonight, Sandy should turn more to the northeast and pick up speed in response to an approaching trough currently over the Mississippi valley. By Monday, Sandy is expected to be at the latitude of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the trough has since stalled over the interior Northeast and a wave of low pressure is forecast to develop along it. This wave of low pressure will turn Sandy back to the northwest, towards the Mid-Atlantic/New England coast for a potential landfall Wednesday morning. Sandy will not be fully tropical by this time, so it will have a broad wind field and the exact location of landfall becomes less important as effects spread over three hundred miles from that point.

Official National Hurricane Center Hurricane Sandy track as of 11am Eastern time October 26th 2012.

Forecast Impacts… 

The Bahamas… Hurricane conditions will subside in the northernmost islands of the Bahamas this afternoon, and tropical storm conditions should subside by Saturday afternoon. Storm surges of 3-5feet are occurring in areas of onshore winds while rainfall totals of  1-4″ are expected. Winds have likely reached near 80mph on eastern parts of Grand Bahama island and most of Little Abaco. Hurricane warnings are in effect for these islands and tropical storm warnings are in effect for the rest of the Northwest Bahamas.

Florida… Tropical storm warnings are in effect along much of the East coast of Florida. Tropical storm conditions are occurring along the immediate coast in parts of Florida along with squally showers associated with Sandy. These winds are kicking up very high surf and are generating storm surges of about 1-3ft. Rainfall totals here should be around 2″. Tropical storm conditions should subside from south to north along the East Coast of Florida today and tomorrow as Sandy moves northwards and north-northeastwards.

Bermuda… Tropical Storm conditions are possible on Sunday here as the wind field of this cyclone expands. A tropical storm watch is in effect as a result. Squally showers with (near) tropical storm conditions and large southwesterly swells are to be expected to start the work week here. The fact that tropical storm conditions are possible in Bermuda and along the US East coast simultaneously suggests a storm more than 600miles in diameter.

US East Coast…
*Saturday morning – Monday morning: South Carolina and North Carolina (to Wilmington) will see offshore winds as Sandy passes well to the east this weekend. Tropical Storm conditions are possible mainly in the offshore marine areas here, but unlikely on land. Some showers may develop to produce some gusty winds however. Tropical storm watches are in effect along the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts. There may be an area of onshore winds in the Outer Banks for a time that could produce some coastal flooding, and sound-side flooding will remain a threat for much of the storm’s passage.

*Monday morning – Wednesday night: Outer Banks, NC northwards to Maine: Sandy is expected to make landfall in Southern New Jersey, near the mouth of Delaware Bay according to the National Hurricane Center’s most recent forecast.  The entire New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts coasts could see: tropical storm conditions with hurricane force gusts possible, heavy rain that may lead to some inland flooding, and severe coastal flooding from a large storm tide.
Meanwhile, areas inland and to the south may still see tropical storm force winds (or at least gusts to that strength), heavy potentially flooding rains, and even some snow farther inland; this could extend as far inland as Ontario and Quebec. Off shore winds, to the south of Sandy, may allow for hazardously low water levels, or coastal flooding from an unusual direction in Chesapeake Bay and the Outer Banks.  Specifics of this forecast will be refined as the storm gets closer. Pay attention to emergency management messages and products/warnings from local and regional officials.

Useful links:
National Hurricane Center– Latest official updates and products for the track, intensity, and impacts of hurricanes.
National Weather Service – Latest local weather products for the United States.
Bermuda Weather Service – Latest weather products for Bermuda.
Environment Canada – Latest local weather products for Canada.
Bahamas Meteorology Department – Latest local weather products for the Bahamas.
Cuba Meteorological Agency (Spanish) – Latest local weather products for Cuba.


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