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A Bit More Like a Perfect Storm — Hurricane Force Wind Gusts, Record Low Pressure, Potential Record Rainfall on Tap for Northern New England

An area of disturbed weather in the Caribbean has now organized into tropical storm Philippe and is likely to continue to intensify as it moves north and east over Cuba to skirt Southern Florida this afternoon. The storm is then expected to race northward off the Eastern Seaboard — rapidly intensifying as it transitions to extra-tropical by Monday.

This rapid intensification will be fueled by a combination of warmer than normal sea surface temperatures off the U.S. East Coast and by the tropical system’s collision with a colder and very deep trough sweeping down from the north. The interaction of trough, storm, and warmer than normal surface water is predicted to generate some record-breaking extreme weather for the U.S. Northeast by Sunday through Monday.

Record-Breaking Nor’Easter on Tap

Present weather model forecasts now call for a stronger storm than was predicted yesterday. The primary low pressure cell associated with the storm is now expected to hit pressures in the range of 975 to 965 mb as it cartwheels off New Jersey and New York and makes landfall somewhere between Rhode Island and Coastal Maine. Such pressures would substantially break past records for lowest pressure in a Northern New England storm during late October. Sandy featured lower pressures as it roared into New York. But the present storm track brings a record intensity storm further north than Sandy.

(A 968 mb storm making landfall in Northern New England on Monday would be a record event for October. Image source: Tropical Tidbits.)

As this hybrid storm rockets in from the much warmer than normal ocean, it is expected to bring with it hurricane force wind gusts and extreme one day rainfall amounts for the region. Weather models now show that sustained winds may exceed 60 mph for the New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine coasts. Meanwhile some models are indicating hurricane force gusts of up to 92 mph or higher for the region. Rainfall totals over a rather short time period are also expected to exceed 4 inches over a broad area stretching deep into New York state. It’s worth noting that the system will inject unseasonably warm air into Northern New England. So most of the precipitation associated with the storm is presently expected to fall as rain.

The storm’s associated powerful winds will likely drive a stronger than usual storm surge for a Nor’Easter into coastal areas — with flooding more reminiscent of that of a moderate hurricane. We could also see electricity knocked out for more than a million residents as this potentially record-breaking system moves in.

(Model predictions show the possiblity for wind gusts of up to 92 mph in extreme developing Nor’Easter expected to impact New England on Sunday and Monday. Winds more typical of a hurricane than your usual coastal storm. It’s worth noting that the Euro Model has come up with some quite extraordinary wind gust conditions ranging from 111 mph to 129 mph in the highest range models. Consensus models appear to be indicating a somewhat milder, but still very strong, storm.)

Climate Change Related Influences Results in Unusual Storm

We should also note that the moisture feed bleeding into this particular storm is quite intense. And as with other recent events we could see projected rainfall totals exceeded. This due to a heavier atmospheric moisture load and related intense convection associated with atmospheric temperatures that are now, on average, 1 to 1.2 C warmer than late 19th Century temperatures. And such warmer temperatures, set off primarily by human fossil fuel burning, are now increasing the peak intensity of extreme rainfall events.

As noted in yesterday’s post, the factors involved in the present Nor’Easter are rather odd when considering past contexts. For one, winds will tend to blow from the south. This is indicative of a somewhat off-kilter track when compared to a typical Nor’Easter. In addition, various climate change associated elements like the high amplitude trough related to polar warming, the joining of tropical weather with Arctic-originating weather to generate an overall more intense storm, an enhanced overall convection and related increased winds and rainfall rates, and the fuel provided by warmer than normal sea surface temperatures are all factors related to human-caused climate change.

(UPDATED)

Links:

The National Hurricane Center

Tropical Tidbits

NOAA

Weather Underground

Model Data

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23 Comments

  1. Greg

     /  October 28, 2017

    The climate system will tend towards the extremes. This year has really born that out for the casual observer. As CB says, He’ll has come to breakfast. (Some strong damaging wind gusts in the Capital region too Robert, per the Capital weather gang)

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  2. Erik Frederiksen

     /  October 29, 2017

    “But the present storm track brings a record intensity storm further north than Sandy.”

    A paper I read recently indicated that tropical cyclones are reaching peak intensities at higher latitudes.

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  3. Robert, might I suggest one tiny correction? You said “Weather models now show that sustained winds may exceed 60 mph for the New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine coasts…” Much as I enjoy living in VT, sad to say, we don’t have an inch of coastline. But New Hampshire has a few miles of it, so if you could revise the sentence to substitute “New Hampshire” for “Vermont” it should all be good.

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  4. Loni

     /  October 29, 2017

    Will this year never end???

    Stay safe, Robert.

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    • Thanks for the concern, Loni. Everything will probably be fine in my region barring unexpected very heavy rain. Just gusty winds and squally weather so far.

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  5. Greg

     /  October 29, 2017

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  6. Greg

     /  October 29, 2017

    Some calm amidst the storm: “St. Louis became the 47th American city to set a goal of getting all of its electricity from clean, noncarbon sources with a vote by local lawmakers Friday — a significant watershed given its long-standing ties to the fossil fuel industry.

    The unanimous vote by the Board of Aldermen commits the city to transition to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources by 2035. The city will assemble a group — made up of workers, environmentalists, business people, utility representatives and others — to draw up a plan by December 2018 for reaching the benchmark.
    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/st-louis-long-coal-capital-votes-get-all-its-power-n814861

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  7. Abel Adamski

     /  October 29, 2017

    A slight digression, but then look at infrastructure vulnerability and damage

    ‘Many roads that are planned for wet, swampy or mountainous regions should not be built’

    The massive growth of major road projects across the world can be potentially disastrous for the environment and the economy, a study warns.

    Researchers analysed major roads and infrastructure projects around the world.

    “We have scrutinised major roads and infrastructure projects around the world, and it is remarkable how many have serious hidden costs and risks,” said William Laurance, professor at James Cook University in Australia.

    According to the study, published in the journal Science, the most urgent priority is limiting millions of kilometres of new roads being planned or built in high-rainfall areas, mostly in developing nations of the Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America.

    This is where ambition for quick profits meets nearly impossible engineering. Rainfall-drenched roads develop pot- holes, giant cracks and landslides so fast it is nearly unbelievable. They can quickly turn into giant money-losers, researchers said.

    “Many roads that are planned for wet, swampy or mountainous regions should not be built, and that is based only on economic criteria,” said Mr. Laurance.

    “If you add in environmental and social costs, then the pendulum swings even harder against new roads, especially in forested areas with high environmental values,” said Irene Burgues Arrea, an economist with the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers and Thinkers (ALERT) in Costa Rica.

    http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/global-road-building-projects-may-be-disastrous-study/article19943902.ece

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  8. Abel Adamski

     /  October 29, 2017

    Peter Sinclair has a couple of good articles
    The better one first
    https://climatecrocks.com/2017/10/28/rescuing-puerto-rico-trump-v-musk-approach/
    Rescuing Puerto Rico. Trump v Musk Approach
    teslahosp
    Renewable v Fossil.
    Central v Distributed.
    Entrepreneur v Corruption.
    Compare and Contrast.

    ThinkProgress:

    Five weeks after hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump’s team has only managed to restore power for a mere 26 percent of the island’s 3.5 million U.S. citizens.

    Meanwhile the tiny Trump-linked energy contractor that won a $300-million no-bid contract to rebuild the grid, Whitefish Energy, is also under fire.

    One businessman, however, has already started to deliver on his promise to help Puerto. Elon Musk has used Tesla’s solar panels and battery storage to turn the power back on San Juan’s Children’s Hospital — and he did it free of charge.

    San Juan’s Hospital del Nino serves some 3,000 children on the island, with three dozen critically ill patients who need around-the-clock care.

    In a viral Instagram post, Musk explained, “Hospital del Niño (Children’s Hospital) is the first of many solar+battery Tesla projects going live in Puerto Rico. Glad to help support the recovery. Congrats to the Tesla team for working 24/7 to make this happen as fast as possible.”

    Puerto Rico is in day 38 of the worst humanitarian emergency in modern American history
    >70% are w/o power
    ppl are drinking toxic wastewater

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  9. Abel Adamski

     /  October 29, 2017

    The heart breaking one
    In Puerto Rico: Bring Out Your Dead
    https://climatecrocks.com/2017/10/28/in-puerto-rico-bring-out-your-dead/

    AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico — Funeral directors and crematoriums are being permitted by the Puerto Rican government to burn the bodies of people who died as a result of Hurricane Maria — without those people being counted in the official death toll.

    The result is a massive loophole likely suppressing the official death count, which has become a major indicator of how the federal government’s relief efforts are going because President Trump himself made it one.

    More than a month after the storm made landfall on Sept. 20, 2.6 million people are without power, at least 875,000 people don’t have access to running water, and 66% of the island still doesn’t have cell service.

    And experts also say an inaccurate official death toll potentially cheats families out of FEMA relief funds and could hurt how future disasters are handled.

    The funeral home and crematorium directors told BuzzFeed News that they had received dozens of bodies of people who died of hurricane-related causes — just the cases from these two municipalities would potentially more than double the death toll if they were included. The Forensic Institute permitted the bodies of at least 42 potential hurricane victims to be burned, according to one crematorium director.

    Local relief workers estimated that more than 400 bodies were packed into a morgue in Aguadilla, in the U.S. territory’s northwestern tip, and Reps. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) have called for an investigation into underreporting in the official death toll following the hurricane.

    And that is just the tip of the iceberg

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