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Weather forecasting and analysis, space and historic events, climate information

7:50 AM | Historic Mid-Atlantic weather event gets underway today, reaches a peak later tomorrow into early Tuesday

Paul Dorian


Hurricane Sandy remains on track to become a historic storm for the Mid-Atlantic region from DC-to-Philly-to-NYC, as well as for much of New England. This morning Sandy remains a hurricane (category 1 status) off the Carolina coastline having sustained winds of 75 mph. The outer bands of heavy rainfall are now affecting as far north as northern New Jersey and the northeastern portion of PA. Sandy will likely remain at or near category one status right through tonight while continuing to track towards the northeast. By early tomorrow morning, Sandy will begin to respond to an approaching deep upper level trough of low pressure over the Appalachians by rapidly intensifying and, in an unprecedented fashion, making a sharp turn to the left towards central or southern New Jersey. This sharp turn in its path will begin the transformation process of Sandy from a tropical system to a super “post-tropical” storm. The storm is likely to make landfall Monday night along the New Jersey coastline by moving in a nearly perpendicular fashion to the shoreline. After that, Sandy will move slowly to the west only reaching near the central PA/MD border region by Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the effects of the storm will likely linger for days including on Halloween Day and maybe even, in one way or another, on Election Day a week later. I would expect most schools, businesses, etc. will be closed on Tuesday, and perhaps many on Monday as well or, if not all day on Monday, maybe by mid-day or early afternoon.

Now for some of the weather details... The computer model predicted atmospheric pressure readings of the storm near landfall time tomorrow night are unprecedented for the Mid-Atlantic with some forecasts at 947 millibars (mb) [27.94 inches]. Lowest ever pressure readings in much of the Mid-Atlantic are not even below 960 mb and, as a point of comparison, “The Perfect Storm” bottomed out at 972 mb. Rain and wind will increase in intensity in the Mid-Atlantic region today and tonight and then the worst of the storm is likely to occur from Monday into early Tuesday. The entire I-95 region from DC-Philly-NYC is in store for a major impact from the storm with torrential rainfall (5-10” and even higher amounts in locations), flooding, and a prolonged period of damaging winds. The wind field of the storm is already quite vast and extends out hundreds of miles from the center; consequently, power outages are likely to be widespread throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and into much of New England with winds reaching 60-80 mph and even higher gusts. In fact, Sandy already has the largest diameter ever for gale force winds in any Atlantic hurricane. The strongest winds in the Mid-Atlantic are likely to be from later Monday afternoon through early Tuesday just ahead and just after Sandy makes landfall. Prepare for these expected widespread power outages with an adequate supply of non-perishable foods, water and batteries. Beach erosion and storm surge flooding at the coastline may be potentially at historic levels thanks in part to the full moon that occurs on Monday.