The Washington Post

Thanksgiving week coastal storm: what happened to it?

Left: Water vapor image of storm off the coast of the Carolinas. Right: Surface pressure map showing low pressure off the coast of the Carolinas and strong high pressure to the north, keeping the storm to our south and east. (Left: NOAA. Right:

This time last week, we wrote about the possibility of a storm for the Mid-Atlantic. Judging by the tranquil forecast for much of the region, you may wonder, what ever happened to that storm?

It’s out there, actually. It turns out a storm formed off the Southeast coast pretty close to where models predicted a week ago. It’s apparent right now on satellite imagery. In fact, coastal flood and high surf advisories are in effect for many of the Mid-Atlantic beaches.

However, an area of high pressure, stronger than models forecast this time last week, squashed the storm and kept it from coming north and west. And so the storm has been a non-event for the interior mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

The lesson here is that details are important with respect to how a storm will materialize. These details are fuzzier for forecasts deeper into the future. That’s why it’s always necessary to qualify discussions of potential storms more than a few days out as we did last week:

As always, exactly where the storm forms, where it tracks, and how strong it gets will determine its exact impacts. There’s also a chance a storm doesn’t form or tracks harmlessly out to sea.

Related: Thanksgiving week ocean storm may miss Washington, D.C. but batter coast

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.


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