October 25th, 2012 by Tim Tyler
Just ahead of Halloween, a storm is brewing off the East Coast that could be (as some forecasters are predicting) a “Billion Dollar Storm.”
With a probable chance of extremely high winds, heavy rain, flooding, and the possibility of snow, this hybrid of a hurricane and winter storm could prove to be the next “perfect storm.”
Current estimates, which are still several days out, has the storm at a 70% chance of impacting the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. The storm is made up of Hurricane Sandy, which is lingering in the Caribbean, a blast of Arctic air from the North, and a winter storm in the West.
These three weather events are expected to combine over the populated East Coast early next week.
“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.”
If the collision of the weather events wasn’t enough, they are expected to happen during a full moon, when tides are at their highest, which will cause an increase in potential coastal flooding, according to NOAA forecasts.
Another hazard is that some trees are still retaining their leaves and, with the possibility of snow in the forecast, there could be power outages that could last into Election Day. Yahoo! News writes:
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.
“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.”
Since the prediction models are still days in advance and are less accurate. For example, the National Hurricane Center only predicts five days in advance, since weather patterns can change.
But the hurricane center’s chief hurricane specialist, James Franklin, said the threat keeps increasing for “a major impact in the Northeast, New York area. In fact it would be such a big storm that it would affect all of the Northeast.”
The forecasts keep getting gloomier and more convincing with every day, several experts said.
The biggest question mark is snow, and that depends on where the remnants of Sandy turn inland. The computer model that has been leading the pack in predicting the hybrid storm has it hitting around Delaware.
But another model has the storm hitting closer to Maine. If it hits Delaware, the chances of snow increase in that region. If it hits farther north, chances for snow in the mid-Atlantic and even up to New York are lessened, Masters said.
We could see the equivalent of several inches of snow or rain in the mid-Atlantic, depending on where the storm ends up, said NOAA’s Cisco. But in the mountains, snowfall might be measured in feet instead of inches.
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