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September 01, 2010

From the AoSHQ Forecast Desk... (tmi3rd)

Hi there, Morons and Moronettes...

In the midst of all our revelry, there is a new little bit that needs to kind of get front and center into the minds of our East Coast folks, and that's Hurricane Earl.

A couple of the hurricane forecast models continue to trend Earl west of where it was projected to go even yesterday. One of those models, ominously, has it going ashore on Long Island.

Below the fold, we're going to have some reminders about hurricane preparedness, as well as a bit of info from Mrs. tmi3rd (a meteorologist and hurricane specialist with the National Weather Service) on hurricanes in general...

For a point of reference, the last significant hurricane to make landfall on Long Island was in 1938. You can read about it at the link, but it did a whole lot of damage and killed a whole bunch of people.

So what do the above-linked models mean? Well, a composite of those models create what is called the forecast track for the National Hurricane Center. Are they typically accurate? In point of fact, no- they're good for ballparking forecasts, but a whole lot of stuff is usually very inaccurate in them. A case in point- they can't account for the friction of a storm interacting with the coastline, which tends to deflect its momentum slightly right of the forecast path.

Nonetheless, when they're all tightly grouped like they are in the above link, it's worth paying attention to. These models predict where the center of circulation is headed. At the same time, this storm is pretty big in diameter (a couple of hundred miles, give or take), so even a 100-mile brush can bring you some heavy rains and high winds.

So let's talk about getting prepared for a hurricane. First of all, if you've been through a bad nor'easter, you just substitute rain for snow, and you're getting there, especially if you're in NYC or Boston. You need to have a couple of days of drinking water, a couple of days of non-perishable food (in case the power goes out), a radio, batteries, medications, and whatever else you put in your zombie horde survival kit. Figure that you may go without power for three days if something bad happens...

If you're on the coast, on the other hand, here's a good rule of thumb. You want to be ten miles inland for a category 1 or 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. If you're in a major coastal city (NYC, Providence, Boston, Bridgeport, et al) and you have a category 3 storm or higher bearing down on you, you'd be well-advised to strongly consider clearing out.

So, bottom line, if you're in the Chesapeake Bay area, anywhere along the Jersey Shore, and all the way up through Maine, try to keep an eye on this. It's moving over cooler waters (making it more likely to weaken a bit), and most of these storms tend to parallel the coast before racing out to sea. The modeling on this storm, however, takes it over Nova Scotia, and that itself is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser.

I'll be floating around the thread (I'm home with tmi4th this afternoon) and will try to check in to answer any questions you may have... as a bit of further background, growing up in New Orleans, we saw about thirty or so hurricanes and tropical storms in my time there. Please stay informed about the storm- hopefully, it'll just push out to sea, but nobody ever gained any points by being unprepared.

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posted by Open Blogger at 04:36 PM

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