UPDATE: The Flood Watch and Coastal Flood Advisory have expired
Sandy impacted Hampton Roads this morning with tidal flooding and scattered power outages. The winds and rain will continue through today since the storm has a wind field of over 1000 miles! That makes it one of the largest hurricanes ever in history. At 11 am, the storm had 90 mph winds with a pressure of 943mb. This pressure is the lowest pressure ever recorded in a storm like this north of Cape Hatteras, NC.
Currently, a Flood WATCH for rainfall and a Coastal Flood Advisory 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 25-45mph 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 2-6 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 Advisory is in effect. This morning’s high tide caused moderate to major flooding across parts of the Peninsula. Roads have been flooded and some houses have got water inside of them. Boats and piers have floated higher than usual, causing damage. The tide tonight will not be as high, and we are not expecting any major flooding issues.
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: School closures on Tuesday depend on power outages. CNU’s campus will be closed and there will be no classes on Monday. ODU, VA Wesleyan and William and Mary will be closed on Monday. Norfolk State will be closed Monday and Tuesday. TNCC and TCC are also closed on Monday.Hampton, Newport News,Norfolk, Portsmouth,Poquoson Chesapeake, Suffolk ,Surry, York, and Virginia Beach public schools have all said they will be closed.
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 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. Blizzard warnings 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. I have yet to hear of them moving the times or having it on another day.
Further West: Do not think this is just a coastal storm. Gusty 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.
Sandy’s pressure has dropped dramatically in the past few hours. 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.
This storm will be no joke up in the northeast. The surge will be horrific in NJ, NY and elsewhere along the coast. People may lose their lives and houses will be destroyed. Be thankful we were not affected worse.