Hurricane Sandy is poised to make landfall Tuesday along the East Coast. The most recent numerical weather prediction model forecasts (e.g. ECMWF and GFS) have narrowed landfall possibilities from the DelMarVa peninsula, north to Long Island, and along the south-facing New England coast. A highly unusual atmospheric setup will continue to evolve synergistically into one of the largest and destructive hurricanes to impact the Middle Atlantic coast in modern history.
It is likely that tropical storm force sustained winds will impact the entire coastline from the Carolinas to Maine during this event with many areas experiencing hurricane-force gusts. Storm surge and ocean wave models have continually shown extremely high waves and swell combining with the full moon and high tide to potentially result in historical coastal erosion. The magnitude and timing of the storm surge is a function of the coastal geometry as well as the accumulated effects of Sandy’s north, and then westward movement. The forecast track would rival historical coastal flooding events.
However, as with previous historical Nor’easters and hurricanes, significant inland effects will penetrate into the Ohio Valley. Indeed, along the southwest flank of Sandy, extremely heavy snow will fall in West Virginia amounting to blizzard or “snowcane” conditions. The location of the rain-snow line will highlight areas for the potential of destructive freezing rain.