Once upon a time there was a 3-year old in Mt. Airy who experienced one of the strongest storms in Philadelphia history. Its name was Hazel, and it produced the highest wind gust ever recorded here-94 mph. Hazel formed in the Caribbean and raced up the East Coast, hitting North Carolina in the morning and passing west of Philadelphia THE SAME EVENING.
I AM NOT SAYING THAT WE WILL HAVE “ANOTHER HAZEL”. DON’T QUOTE ME THAT WAY. BUT DOES THAT MEAN WE HAVE TO SHUT UP AND IGNORE THE MOST ACCURATE COMPUTER MODEL IN THE WORLD?
Now to the science (yes, the 3-year old was me)……
Question 1: Is Sandy in a favorable position for a) strengthening and b) moving north for many days. Answer: Yes. The central Caribbean, where Sandy has just formed, is THE most favored area for formation in October. And, many October/November storms track northward (many track northeastward as well).
Question 2: Is the current overall weather pattern favorable for a strengthening, northward tracking storm. Yes. Computer models virtually all agree on at least 3 days of this.
The European computer model has, in general, gone for an extreme East Coast solution 3 times in a row. It has the unofficial title of most accurate model in the world overall, and has had that for at least 20 years.
Question 3: Are there other computer models that have extreme solutions, even if they are not identical to the EURO? Yes (No one would expect identical solutions 5-8 days ahead of time!). The Canadian has also had consistently extreme solutions for the past 24 hours. It often has extreme solutions, so that’s not too surprising. But another model, the UKMET, also had extreme solutions (not nearly as extreme as the other 2, but pretty impressive). Even the Japanese model is “onboard”. Only the American model, the GFS, has a clear out-to-sea solution.
Question 4: Is the EURO solution representative of other “ensemble members” from the EURO. Yes. The EURO is run 51 times with slight differences in the current conditions. At NBC10, we get maps and data from these “ensembles” exclusively. We can’t show them to you, but I can tell you that many of the 50 other solutions are extreme AND close enough to the East Coast for major impacts.
Question 5: Do the folks at the National Weather Service in Wash, DC think an extreme East Coast solution is possible? Yes. Here’s their official 7-day forecast valid next Monday.
Question 6: Even if the track of this Hurricane/Hybrid/Nor’easter goes hundreds of miles offshore, will it still have a significant impact on the East Coast? Yes. As we say all the time, hurricanes are NOT a point, often covering hundreds of miles. And part hurricane/part Nor’easter storms are often even bigger. That means heavy rain, gusty winds, rip currents, and beach erosion could still happen with an offshore track.
Although it’s nearly a week from now, there is enough evidence for a large, strong storm of some sort: Tropical, Nor’easter, or Hybrid (combination, of Tropical & Nor’easter) tracking off the East Coast. Of course, details are far from clear-cut. I’ll update the scenarios and odds as the week progresses.