Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween 2013: Sandy's Revenge

(This picture is not mine and was taken from here.)

This week is Halloween, one of our favorite holidays and one that we didn't really celebrate in Australia. I had hoped this year we could do it up right -- decorate, have a Halloween party, go to a Halloween event in costume, carve pumpkins, any or all of the above. Sadly, we are still not in a house of our own, which has nixed pretty much any decorating, pumpkin carving, or parties at home, and other conflicts prevented us from attending any Halloween parties this weekend. Instead, we plan to go to a haunted house on Monday. That should be fun!

I was going to write a post about Halloween in Australia, but I think I've already done that, and it was a bit boring. Instead, I'll talk about something I find more interesting: the so-called Frankenstorm. I'm not really a big fan of cheezy names like that, but whatever. As you might imagine, I've been following the evolution of this storm with some interest.

This storm is somewhat like the storm of 1993 (The "Perfect Storm"), in that it combines a tropical system with an extra-tropical system to create a monster. For the non-meteorological, tropical cyclones tend to lose their strength when they move away from the warm water that is their energy source. Extra-tropical cyclones (your "normal" storm systems) get their strength from the strong temperature difference between air masses. So what's happening here is that once Sandy moves away from the Gulf Stream, it will tap into a strong temperature difference caused by a front moving across the continental U.S. -- which means it will change into an extra-tropical cyclone. It will be particularly strong because the warm, moist air mass that fueled Sandy will cause a really sharp difference with the cold air mass behind the front.

Thar she blows! (NWS HPC Surface Analysis 00Z 29 Oct 2012)
Complicating this, or adding to it, is the fact that Sandy has been around a while, which gave it the chance to build a big storm surge which it will bring to the table. This means that in addition to the very high winds, tornados and heavy precipitation that you might see from a strong Nor'easter that just formed off the coast, coastal storm surge is a big concern. For clarification, Nor'easters can also cause storm surge, but in this case, it's a big risk.

One thing I just thought of (hence the moon picture above) is that I wonder if the storm surge will be worse because it coincides with a nearly full moon, which will bring the highest tides of the month. This may not be a factor. I haven't checked the tide schedule and Sandy may make landfall when the tide is low, which would actually be a good thing. But it could make a difference in how damaging the storm is.

Of course, my interest in the storm does not lessen my concern for those in harm's way. I hope everyone is taking this threat seriously and preparing their homes and planning possible evacuation routes for themselves, their families, and their pets. I wish all my readers a safe and non-scary Halloween.


Anonymous said...

raqHalloween 2013??

Now hearing about the predicted high waves on the Great Lakes - wonder if there will be shore flooding? Obviously concerned about the Sauerweins in that case.

Anonymous said...

eaStill having problems with the new keyboard and with the "proving that I'm not a robot" business. Sorry for the typo at the beginning of the last post.

Kate Not Katy said...

In New England, they are definitely still talking about the storm surge coupled with the high tide. Because Sandy is so large, I think that even if it hits at low/mid tide, we are still going to have strong enough winds 6 hours later to whip up the high tide.

craftosaurus said...

There's been a lot of talk around here about whether the storm's arrival will coincide with high tide. Fingers crossef that it doesn't. Either way, I think we'll be reasonably ok.