Severe Weather Forecast: 70% chance of Perfect Storm

UPDATED (see below) The 1991 Nor’easter that hit New England in late October was termed “the Perfect Storm”. A book and a popular movie were made, based on that storm. The more general term perfect storm refers to a rare combination of meteorological circumstances that turns an ordinary storm into a much more devastating event. It happened in October 1991, and it may happen again in October 2012. Here’s what the news and weather sources are saying:

“The Perfect Storm” was a movie about one of the worst storms to hit the east coast of the U.S. and today forecasters are describing what’s on its way to New England as the “perfect storm.” (New England may see ‘perfect storm’ with Hurricane Sandy: Likelihood increases)

The current likely scenario has Hurricane Sandy aggravated by several other weather factors. Right now (Thurs. 10/25) hurricane Sandy is headed across Cuba and the Bahamas, on a path to skirt the east coast of Florida. Not much of a problem for our State. It’s not expected to make landfall in Florida or on the southeastern coast.

But as the hurricane heads north, along the east coast, it will encounter a low pressure area to the northeast, and a high pressure area further north. Meteorologists call this a “blocking pattern” that will keep the storm from turning out to sea. So the hurricane is expected to make landfall in New England.

With high and low pressure systems acting as a blocking weather pattern – the likelihood that Hurricane Sandy and could collide with them and create a massive storm system early next week has been rated at 70 percent. (Forecasters predict pre-Halloween ‘Perfect Storm’ will strike the East Coast next week with torrential rain, flooding, power outages AND snow)

The chances of this happening were put at 50% a day or so ago. Now forecasters have increased that estimate to a 70% chance of a perfect storm. But wait, there’s more. The current path of the jet stream is positioned to boost the storm, making it more intense, while the blocking pattern might hold the storm over New England for some time.

Then cold air coming down from Canada, from a northwestern direction, may turn the hurricane into a combination snowstorm/hurricane.

In addition, an upper-level trough in the polar jet stream could provide an additional turbo-charged boost to this low, producing an intense, East Coast storm. If this scenario plays out as illustrated above, high winds, heavy rain, major coastal flooding and beach erosion could pummel portions of the Northeast seaboard early next week. Of course, the high winds would extend inland, with the potential for downed trees and powerlines. This setup could even wrap in just enough cold air on its western edge to produce wet snow, possibly heavy, in some areas of the eastern Great Lakes and Appalachians! (Weather.com)

But will it really be as bad as the perfect storm of 1991, the storm that inspired a book and a movie? Actually, it could be much worse.

“It’ll be a rough couple days from Hatteras up to Cape Cod,” said forecaster Jim Cisco of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prediction center in College Park, Md. “We don’t have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting.”
It is likely to hit during a full moon when tides are near their highest, increasing coastal flooding potential, NOAA forecasts warn. And with some trees still leafy and the potential for snow, power outages could last to Election Day, some meteorologists fear. They say it has all the earmarks of a billion-dollar storm.

Some have compared it to the so-called Perfect Storm that struck off the coast of New England in 1991, but Cisco said that one didn’t hit as populated an area and is not comparable to what the East Coast may be facing. Nor is it like last year’s Halloween storm, which was merely an early snowstorm in the Northeast.

This has much more mess potential because it is a combination of different storm types that could produce a real whopper of weather problems, meteorologists say.

“The Perfect Storm only did $200 million of damage and I’m thinking a billion,” said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private service Weather Underground. “Yeah, it will be worse.” (Hybrid of Sandy, winter storm threatens East Coast)

One billion dollars’ worth of damage. A combination snowstorm/hurricane/Nor’easter. Power could be out for millions of persons, and the outage could last through election day (Nov. 6).

If you live in that area of the nation, you should be glad if you have made prudent and reasonable emergency preparation: food, water, batteries, flashlights, candles, etc. This impending perfect storm is a perfect example of why we prep. You don’t know specifically which disasters will strike when. But we all know that one disaster or another will strike, sooner or later.

UPDATE (Friday, 26 Oct 2012) — “Forecasters are now saying that there is a 90 percent chance that on Monday the East Coast will take a direct hit from a ‘perfect storm’ of three different systems — Hurricane Sandy, an arctic front and a jet stream.” (ABC News)

UPDATE (Saturday, 27 Oct 2012) — The resulting storm could sit over New England, making untold trouble for millions of residents, even dumping heavy snow in the Appalachians. “Expect it to move very slowly,” said James Franklin of the National Hurricane Center. “The large size of the system and its slow motion will mean a long-lasting event with two to three days of impacts.” The tropical storm force winds will likely spread over a vast distance, potentially up to 700 miles across, stretching from North Carolina to Maine, which could mean widespread power outages, according to CNN’s Weather Unit. (CNN)

– Thoreau

4 Responses to Severe Weather Forecast: 70% chance of Perfect Storm

  1. Down here in south fla. I always have great peace of mind knowing my preps are in place during hurricane season. I hope the people in NE have been awake and are ready to deal with an event of this nature. If it happens there will be pain and they are in our thoughts.

  2. Hope all of the good folks along the coast are getting ready, and are able to come through with a minimum of loss and damage

  3. Actually, the storm is going to skirt the EAST coast of Florida.

  4. Thanks, I’ve corrected the post to say east coast.