Sandy weakened to a tropical storm overnight as expected and is now back up to hurricane status. The NHC, and the models, all are forecasting a landfall in NJ or Delaware late Monday evening. Under this current scenario, we can expect rain, wind and some tidal surge across Hampton Roads. The winds and rain will also impact a large portion of Virginia all the way up into the mountains.
Currently, a Flood WATCH for rainfall and a Coastal Flood WARNING for tidal surge are in effect for the Peninsula. A High Wind WARNING is in effect for the wind threat. It appears that the NWS will not issue a TS or Hurricane watch/warning for our area due to the complex nature of this storm. Since the storm is expected to become post-tropical as it moves north, it may not reach the scientific criteria for a TS or hurricane advisory. Regardless, the impacts will be the same.
Let’s break down the impacts region by region, starting off north of us. Winds in a low pressure system spin counter clockwise. When a hurricane makes landfall, the worst surge is usually to the north of the center. This storm will be no exception. Up into the northeast along the beaches I would expect a historical storm surge with tides running on the order of 9-10 feet. This will devastate the area and cause a potentially deadly situation for anyone who stays. The damage will be tremendous. NYC could have major flooding issues as well. This has the potential to be the worst storm in many years for them. Below is a great explanation of the storm.
Further south, into Virginia, we will see impacts but not as bad as areas to the north. Here’s my thinking with data provided by the National Weather Service:
Winds: A High Wind WARNING is in effect. Expect gusty winds to begin late Saturday and last through Tuesday. I would expect the potential for sustained winds of 40-45mph with higher gusts. These gusts could reach over 55-60 mph at times.
Rain: Rain will begin this afternoon (Saturday) across Hampton Roads. The rain will get heavier through the overnight. We could see rainfall amounts of 5-10 inches, with higher amounts possible. A Flood Watch is in effect for the area. This means flooding is possible and you should be prepared to move to higher ground if necessary. Something to consider is cleaning leaves from around your storm drain so they don’t get clogged.
Storm Surge/Tides: A Coastal Flood Warning is in effect. At the current time, we are not expecting the storm surge to be as bad as Isabel or the November Nor’Easter. Expect tidal surge to run 2-3 feet above normal, which puts us in the moderate flood category with final tides running a little above 6 feet. A low tide will look like a high tide. The typical spots that are very susceptible to flooding probably will. Most of these areas are in a category 1 surge zone. These zones include Grandview, Ft Monroe,Lasalle Ave, Langley AFB, Marina Cove, Dandy Haven, Tidemill Creek, Indian Creek, Newmarket Creek, Fox Hill near Willow Oaks and off of Little Back River. I would expect northern Grandview, Marina Cove, Langley View and Fox Hill to have the biggest risk. A higher surge may also occur at Money Point,VA on the Southside compared to other locations due to how it sits. Winds will be flowing down the Chesapeake Bay for most of this storm. Northern facing coasts could see locally higher surges. High tide times for Sewells Point are below, with the highest tide Monday morning.
Sunday 8:46 AM Sunday 9:06 PM Monday 9:24 AM Monday 9:43 PM
Power Outages: It is very likely that we will see power outages. With such a large area of the eastern seaboard impacts, I would advise you to expect to be possibly be without power for several days if you lose it. Call 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357) to report a power outage. Unlike your typical hurricane, it will not be very warm after this one. Highs will be in the upper 50s, with lows in the 40s after the storm. Make sure you have a way to stay warm.
Shelters: The City of Hampton has opened two shelters: The shelter at the Phenix School, 1061 Big Bethel Road, is for the general population. The shelter at Bethel High School, 1067 Big Bethel Road, is a pet friendly and overflow shelter.
School closings: I would be surprised if schools are open on Monday. CNU’s campus will be closed and there will be no classes on Monday.ODU and William and Mary will be closed on Monday. Norfolk State will be closed Monday and Tuesday. TNCC is closed on Monday. No public schools in Hampton Roads have announced plans as of Saturday evening. They will decide Sunday.
Driving: If you have to drive somewhere, I would suggest you give yourself ample time to do so. Watch for fallen trees, power lines and flooding. NEVER drive through a flooded roadway. Conditions will deteriorate through the day on Saturday with rain and wind likely on Sunday and Monday. They will gradually improve through the day on Tuesday.
Snow: There is a chance the VA mountains could see snow flurries from this system. The higher chances are to the south around VT and Radford. JMU may see a flurry.These snow chances will start off as mixed precipitation on Monday and end with the potential for snow showers on Tuesday. The bigger snow chances will be over West Virginia where they could see heavy snowfall amounts. Winter Storm Warnings are up for the Snowshoe Mountain area.
Halloween: It may be a sad Halloween for some kids with power outages, downed trees and power lines. I wouldn’t be surprised to see cities cancel Halloween trick-or-treating times. You do not want kids walking around with rain, wind and debris in the dark. Then again, I’m not sure if they can even do this…
Further West: Do not think this is just a coastal storm. Strong winds, heavy rain and the potential for some flooding will exist all the way back into the mountains of Virginia. Expect rain and wind at all western colleges, especially northern ones.
I am a little worried about Sandy’s pressure. When the pressure drops in a cyclone, the cyclone normally strengthens. As Sandy approaches the NJ coastline, we expect the pressure to continue to drop. We will have to watch for any rapid intensification.
Here is the latest information released by the City of Hampton. You can also post questions to their Facebook page or connect with them on Twitter. The City of Newport News is also on Facebook and Twitter. Poquoson information can be found on Twitter and FB as well.
Finally, if we get less impacts from this storm than we are currently expecting, don’t just say it is another storm that was another storm that wasn’t anything. This storm will not be just another storm to the citizens of the Northeast. I have friends up there that could potentially lose their houses. Less impact from a storm is always a blessing.