First fall coastal storm could affect eastern seaboard late this weekend

September’s East Coast weather has been eerily quiet with no major storms.  The European weather model wants to interrupt this tranquil pattern, and is hinting a storm could form near the East Coast Sunday or Monday.


European model simulates coastal storm off the Mid-Atlantic Sunday night. Colors represent wind speeds about 1 mile above the surface. (WeatherBell.com)

Other weather models are mixed on the idea. The GFS model, for examples, takes the disturbance the European model is locking in on for an East Coast strike and punts it out to sea (though its latest run is a near-miss for New England).

The Canadian model is more bullish with a simulation similar to the European.


Canadian model shows strong area of low pressure off the Mid-Atlantic coast Sunday night. Colors represent accumulated rainfall. (WeatherBell.com)
Upper level weather pattern (pressure difference from normal) shows big blocking high pressure over Northeast Canada (red shades) that could steer ocean storm towards East Coast. (WeatherBell.com) Upper level weather pattern (pressure difference from normal) shows big blocking high pressure over Northeast Canada (red shades) that could steer ocean storm towards East Coast. (WeatherBell.com)

Of course, last fall, the European model was the first to correctly simulate the land-strike of Superstorm Sandy when other models projected it to sail out into the open Atlantic.  Interestingly, the European model develops a big area of blocking high pressure to the north of the storm, like it did with Sandy (but not as strong and further south), which helps steer the ocean storm back towards the coast.

To be perfectly clear, this storm has no chance to be a repeat of Sandy.  Its origins are not tropical (Sandy formed deep in the Caribbean) and, while it could draw some tropical energy from warm Gulf stream waters like Sandy, this storm has little chance to merge with a major North American cold front and transform into a freak Sandy-like Frankenstorm.

 

If the storm develops, it would probably be a sub-tropical storm – with a mix of tropical and non-tropical characteristics

At this point, I’d say there’s about a 40 percent chance a storm will develop and meaningfully impact the East Coast.  It’s too early to say, if it makes a move towards the East Coast, whether it would affect the D.C. area and Mid-Atlantic beaches or come ashore further north.  And it’s also premature to speculate about storm impacts except to say some heavy rain and gusty winds are possible if the storm comes near the coast.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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Jason Samenow · September 24, 2013