Since the weekend I have been loudly warning WeatherBELL clients that a historic storm is in the making. For years I have wondered why a storm like what I have forecast – a hurricane hit on the mid or north Atlantic coast from the southeast – has not occurred. In this case a tropical cyclone is entrained into a massive early season cold air mass and is forced to turn northwest into the Mid-Atlantic states. In fact, in talks I give about hurricanes, I show the example of this kind of storm, which I call the “Philadelphia Story” – a hurricane hits the Mid-Atlantic states from the southeast near or south of the mouth of the Delaware Bay. It sends its storm surge up the funnel-shaped Delaware Bay – much like the 1938 hurricane did in Providence – and that rising storm surge is met by flooding coming down the Delaware River. The flooding is worse than it would have been because the lakes that were not dammed up years ago are now, so they must release their water downstream into the river. Additionally, such a storm would devastate the Jersey Shore worse than in 1944.
But here is the key point: It is a product of past individual events we have seen combining in one place. Instead of asking why something like this is happening, I have always wondered why it has not!
Weatherbell.com has been saying since the start of the hurricane season that the end of the season this year would feature a tropical cyclone coming out of the Caribbean that would threaten the East Coast. Just like the season started with in-close storms, we felt it would end with them, too. Three weeks ago, we again told clients the pattern was setting up for this.
On Sunday we put out a chart hitting New York City from the south-southeast with this storm, even before it was named, with a 75-knot hurricane early next week. My forecast today has been adjusted a bit south but calls for this to go into New Jersey with a major snowstorm on the western side from western Pennsylvania into West Virginia. Clients have been told this is a multibillion-dollar storm in the making where it hits and that this could be the worst historically in some places along the Mid-Atlantic coast. While there is still room for me to be wrong, the window is closing on the chance of this escaping. And what I have always worried about looks to finally happen.
It will not be global warming but the combination of natural events that will cause it. In fact, my father, a degreed meteorologist, would show me tracks from hurricanes when I was a kid and say that all one needs to do is move that track a couple hundred miles and what appears to be ready to happen now would happen. The point is that this was seen as something that could happen years ago, even by people in the field before me. If it does occur, it will be because of nature, not man.
Please join us on Weatherbell.com to track this event. If you wish, take a trial run on our site to see the intricate details (you can even go back to the archives to see how long we have been setting this up). The weather is a majestic display of creation and something as a man I am in awe of. We can’t control it, but we can watch and try to understand it!
Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.
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