Hurricane Sandy strengthened overnight to a central pressure of 946 millibars and it 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 (category one status) still remains well off the east coast with sustained winds at 85 mph, but it has already begun to respond to an approaching deep upper level trough of low pressure now over the Appalachians by beginning a sharp turn to the left towards the southern New Jersey coastline. This unprecedented type of sharp turn for a hurricane at this latitude is part of the transformation process of Sandy from a tropical system to a super “post-tropical” storm. The storm will make landfall tonight probably right along the southern New Jersey coastline by moving in a general east-to-west direction nearly perpendicular to the shoreline. After that, Sandy will move slowly to the west for awhile reaching central Pennsylvania by later tomorrow.
Rain and wind will increase in intensity later this morning across the region and then the brunt of this historic storm will occur from this afternoon 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 (a general 5-10” and even scattered higher amounts), flooding, and a prolonged period of damaging winds from later today into Tuesday. The wind field of the storm is very large and it 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. Winds will likely reach 60-80 mph with even higher gusts during the afternoon and nighttime peak hours of the storm; especially, towards the coastline. Atmospheric pressures are likely to reach record low levels in many parts of the Mid-Atlantic region by tonight as the storm makes landfall with central pressures near 947 millibars (27.96 inches) or even slightly below that level. The significance of the extremely low central barometric pressure reading of the storm is that it sets up a very strong pressure gradient which in turn translates into very strong winds. By the way, the central pressure of this storm is significantly lower than the lowest pressure reading ever reached by "The Perfect Storm" in October 1991 (which was only 972 millibars). Look at your home barometer this evening for a once-in-a-lifetime pressure reading. Beach erosion and storm surge flooding from New York Harbor down the New Jersey coastline may be potentially at historic levels thanks to the excessive winds aided by the full moon. Heavy snow will pile up in the southwestern cold sector of the storm in places like West Virginia and damaging winds will reach all the way inland to the Appalachians. In fact, waves will pound on Chicago's Lake Michigan shores as a result of Sandy. After the storm later this week, we'll likely experience showers and chilly conditions on Wednesday, Halloween Day, and then Thursday and Friday look to be generally calm and dry days to close out the week.
Good luck riding this one out and stay safe.