Northeast Faces Threat From Powerful Sandy Early Next Week

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By Kate Bilo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As the days go on, the likelihood of powerful impacts from Sandy across our region continues to increase. The European model continues to hold tight to its solution of a powerful storm making almost a direct hit on our area, and while it’s the only model to be that far west as of now, the others are starting to inch closer to its line of thinking.

As of now, it doesn’t look likely that the storm will go out to sea and miss us completely. The GFS, which was the main model touting that solution, has trended back west, bringing Sandy retroactively back toward New England by Tuesday. The ensemble models tend to favor a solution somewhere in between.

There are a number of factors to consider. A large blocking high in the Atlantic will keep Sandy from making a direct escape out to sea, a powerful advancing trough of low pressure and upper-level storm will tilt negatively which will serve to draw Sandy toward the eastern seaboard, and eventually, Sandy will try to phase with the advancing system, becoming a sort of hybrid storm.

We’ve seen October nor’easters and storms before, but there are a few players that make this one a bit more worrisome than most. First, the North Atlantic Oscillation, or NAO, is going to be the most negative it has all year. This generally implies cool, wet and stormy conditions for the East Coast. Also, we have a full moon and an astronomical high tide on Monday the 29th, implying that coastal flooding would be even worse than normal with the approach of a coastal low. Finally, the pressure gradient created by the blocking high and the advancing trough over the Great Lakes will cause Sandy’s wind field to become very strong and very large, making the impacts of the storm even wider-reaching.

In a nutshell, it’s looking as though Sandy will — in some form, whether tropical or as some sort of hybrid nor’easter — come onshore between Virginia and Maine by the early part of next week. We’ll need to prepare for wind and rain at the very least, and those with interests down the shore should begin to think about early precautions. If Sandy comes a bit closer, the impacts could be more devastating, and if Sandy re-curves later into New England, our impacts would be lessened. Only time will tell, but we’ll keep you updated (as always!) with the latest information.

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