From Delaware to Massachusetts, heavy precipitation, high seas and gusty winds are lashing the coast as a powerful Nor’easter blossoms offshore the Mid-Atlantic. The storm comes just one week after Superstorm Sandy left billions of dollars in economic damages.
The entire coastline of the Northeast and the nearby interior are peppered with advisories and warnings for snow, coastal flooding and wind. Southwest of Baltimore, impacts from the storm abruptly cutoff.
Here’s a quick guide to what’s happening.
An area of heavy snow has developed from southeast Pennsylvania to western Connecticut. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center indicates snowfall rates of up to 1 inch per hour are possible through the afternoon in this region which includes Philadelphia, New York City, and Hartford.
Temperatures are mostly above freezing in the corridor of heavy snow but are expected to gradually fall. Already, in parts of Connecticut, temperatures have dipped to near freezing. The Weather Channel reports 2” of snow has accumulated around New Haven, Ct.
In New York City and Philadelphia, temperatures are in the mid-30s, which will slow accumulation rates until later today and tonight when it gets colder.
Total accumulations in this area may locally exceed 4 inches, especially inland of coastal areas and at higher elevations. In the big cities, 1-4” is more likely.
Note: it is becoming increasingly likely accumulating snow will not fall from southwest of Baltimore.
Through early afternoon., some of the strongest winds were located along the coast of southern New England. The highest gust I’ve seen report so far is 72 mph at Martha’s Vineyard. Nantucket recorded a gust to 53 mph, Provincetown 46 mph and Boston 40 mph. In New York City and Long Island, gusts have been in the 30-40 mph range. But the strongest winds are yet to come. Warns the National Weather Service:
The highest winds are expected between around 4 pm and midnight. These winds could blow down trees and limbs weakened from Sandy, resulting in additional power outages.
The National Weather Service in New York City predicts gust potential to 58 mph or higher.
Sea levels and waves have gradually been increasing as the Nor’easter winds up offshore. Waves in the surf zone are predicted to be 7 to 10 feet in Delaware and New Jersey. The NWS in New York City predicts: “Pounding waves of 8-12 ft will create overwash and significant beach erosion at Atlantic beaches.”
A storm surge of 3-4 feet is still predicted - enough to cause minor to moderate coastal flooding, especially around high tide early this afternoon and just after midnight tonight from Delaware to New York.
Major beach erosion is also likely.
Comparison to Sandy?
This Nor’easter does not come close to rivaling Sandy in intensity. Consider its minimum pressure - an indicator of storm strength (lower is more intense) - will probably be around 980 mb compared to Sandy which bottomed out at 940 mb. Peak wind gusts from this storm may reach 70 mph compared to 90 mph during Sandy. Finally, the Nor’easter’s storm surge should be less than half of Sandy’s.
While this storm is much less than severe than Sandy, its impacts are compounded from following in Sandy’s wake. As the NWS in Philadelphia states:
Impact from coastal flooding and strong wave action will be worsened due to effects of Coastal Storm Sandy. ... Coastal storm defenses have been seriously compromised.