11:15 p.m. update: Hurricane Sandy continues its trek northward off the Carolina coast. The ”turn” back to the coast is about to occur as the trough to its west begins merge with Sandy and slingshot it back toward the coast as it transitions into an extratropical storm. Sandy remains a 75 mph hurricane, with a pressure now of 950 mb (28.05”). That’s the lowest the pressure has been in Sandy’s life and it appears the storm is either slowly strengthening now or may do so shortly.
One particular tidbit from tonight’s NHC discussion pertaining to our eventual position from the center:
*HOWEVER...THE STRONGEST WINDS IN THE STORM ARE NOT OCCURRING IN THE EYEWALL...AS THE NOAA AND AIR FORCE RESERVE AIRCRAFT FOUND A LARGE AREA OF AT LEAST 60 KT SURFACE WINDS ABOUT 100-120 N MI SOUTHWEST OF THE CENTER.*
Late this evening, our local NWS office released a “Sandy Local Statement,” which compiles the seemingly countless warnings issued for Sandy into one concise package. We recommend keeping up with these statements as they’re updated with new information. The NWS also has a dedicated Sandy page on their web site.
Blizzard warnings are now also up for parts of the Appalachian chain to the west, including locations in far western Maryland, a large portion of eastern West Virginia, and into southwest Virginia. Forecasts call for up to one to two feet in parts of the Blizzard Warning area, with winds near 40 mph sustained and gusts around 60 mph. Tonight’s North American Model (seen at right) continues to be insistent upon more than two feet of snow in some spots. There is still a chance some snow (likely non-accumulating in the immediate D.C. area) enters into the area before the storm ends.
Satellite loop of Sandy from earlier.
From 7:41 p.m.: As Hurricane Sandy draws closer (it’s now about 250-300 miles east of the Carolinas), forecasts for its effects have grown more hazardous for the Washington, D.C. metro region.
In its update to the High Wind Warning this evening, the National Weather Service increased its estimate for peak wind gusts from 60 to 70 mph. It also increased its projected rainfall for the region to 5 to 10 inches from 4-8 inches in its update to the Flood Watch.
Here are a set of important statements from the latest National Weather Service statements and discussions:
* A PROLONGED PERIOD OF POWERFUL AND DANGEROUS WINDS IS EXPECTED...LASTING LIKELY WELL INTO TUESDAY BEFORE GRADUALLY SUBSIDING..
* RESIDENTS...VISITORS... AND BUSINESSES ACROSS THE REGION SHOULD PLAN FOR WIDESPREAD POWER AND COMMUNICATION OUTAGES.
* IF THE FORECAST RAINFALL AMOUNTS ARE OBSERVED ON A WIDESPREAD BASIS...WIDESPREAD MAJOR FLOODING IS POSSIBLE.
* THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS STORM WHICH WILL AFFECT THE ENTIRE AREA REGARDLESS OF WHERE THE STORM CENTER IS.
* PLEASE TAKE THIS THREAT VERY SERIOUSLY...THIS IS GOING TO CREATE SIGNIFICANT DISRUPTIONS OVER THE NEXT COUPLE DAYS. BE PREPARED TO AT LEAST HUNKER DOWN FOR A WHILE...AND BE PREPARED FOR SOME SERIOUSLY CHALLENGING CONDITIONS.
I’d like to stress that beyond a certain time Monday, it will probably become unsafe to be outside, either walking or driving. In the morning hours, you may be able to get around OK, but with wind-driven rain, it will be unpleasant.
Some time after 2 or 3 p.m., once sustained winds reach 30-40 mph, and it’s gusting over 50 mph, I would not advise going out. During Hurricane Irene, a number of lives were lost when people were crushed by falling trees - some in cars. Your best bet will be to stay inside from mid-afternoon Monday through Monday night, and only travel if absolutely critical.