Hurricane "Sandy" Into the SW Atlantic & AND ON TRACK Far to the East of Jax......
FOR THE FIRST COAST.....it still looks like direct effects from "Sandy" will be strong & gusty northeast winds through early Sat. that becomes offshore -- from the N/NW -- later Sat.-Sun. This is a "glorified" Nor'easter for the First Coast:
* windy: The tropical storm warning has been extended north to St. Augustine, but this will be very borderline. I personally doubt sustained winds of 39 mph will be attainable as far north as St. Johns Co. Winds through Sat. averaging 20-35 mph with gusts 40+ mph along the coast...15-30 mph along the I-95 corridor with gusts between 30 & 40 mph...15-25 mph with gusts to 30 mph from near Highway 301 to I-75.
* sporadic power outages but not widespread nor long-lasting
* very rough seas & surf
* a very high & dangerous rip current risk
* beach erosion & some coastal flooding, especially at times of high tide
* boaters should use extreme caution or -- better yet -- stay docked/in port through at least Sat. The St. Johns River will be no picnic either which Ga./Fl. fans need to keep in mind Sat.
* some rain but there will be a very sharp cut-off between very heavy rain & little or none at all. My call continues to be that the heaviest rain bands stay just offshore & occasionally move a bit inland, especially near & south of Jacksonville later Fri. night into early Sat. If I'm off by as little as 20-30 miles, amounts will change considerably. There will be some sea water flooding along the coast & at the beaches due to the onshore winds, wave action, storm surge & increasing astronomical effects (full moon Mon.) so heavy rain would easily cause additional flooding. Rainfall forecast:
-- West of Highway 301: Little or none....
-- Highway 301 to I-95: .10" or less....
-- I-95 to near the intracoastal: .10-.25"
-- coast/beaches: .25-.50"
-- the degree of all impacts, of course, is dependent on the exact location & intensity of "Sandy". Conditions at area beaches will become downright dangerous into the weekend - stay out of the water!
Tropical Storm WARNING for the NW Bahamas the Central Fl. East Coast north to St. Augustine, for the S. & N. Carolina Coasts... Tropical Storm WATCH for NE Fl. Coast & S. Coast of S. Carolina....
** The tropical storm WATCH & WARNING for the First Coast & Central Fl. coast is primarily a result of the wide wind field -- that's expected to expand even more -- to the northwest of the center & NOT because of a change in the path which is a center well to the east of Fl** ......
"Sandy" is out of the Bahamas taking a bit of a northwest then north jog, as expected & slowing too. The N/NW move will become a solid turn to the northeast late Fri. night-Sat. far to the east of Jacksonville. Strong upper level troughing looks like it'll become reinforced over the Northern & Eastern U.S. which should protect the Fl. & Ga. from the brunt of the storm. "Sandy" has steadily weakened since entering the Bahamas & is now taking the classic look of a transition to a more subtropical system. The strongest convection is solidly north of the center & starting to stretch out east-west as if there's a developing warm front. SW shear is helping keep the convection north of the center which will pass Jacksonville 330+ miles to the east. Forecast models have come into better agreement regarding an intense hybrid storm turning northwest into or near New England &/or the Delmarva region not too far north of Chesapeake Bay as the upper level trough deepens/sharpens & draws the storm back to the west & northwest. This could turn out to be a historical storm from the Mid Atlantic to the Northeast. Either way...impacts on the First Coast will be virtually the same as I anticipate a center well to the east of Jacksonville Fri. night-Saturday.
Torrential rain, rough seas & surf & damaging winds will diminish for Jamaica, Cuba, Hispaniola & the Bahamas (areas hit hard but not getting much coverage in the news right now because of the impending "Frankenstorm" (seriously??!!) but will increase for the upper U.S. coast. The combination of the shear + interaction with the strong upper level trough from the west & north & resulting frontal system will give "Sandy" a more subtropical structure this weekend/early next week with an expanding wind field. Cruises to the Bahamas &/or Caribbean will probably be able to resume normal schedules soon.
I'm inclined to believe much of the heavy rain stays east offshore, but it'll be very close right along the coast & at the beaches. Tropical storm force wind gusts will be possible right at the coast into Sat. but less wind inland. I have few concerns about much damage for the First Coast though the beaches will take quite a beating due to persistent strong onshore winds that become offshore over the weekend. Sea & surf conditions will be slow to improve given the powerful storm to the north combined with incoming surface high pressure + high astronomical tides thanks to Monday's full moon. This storm will be much like the late Oct. hurricane -- "Wilma" -- in 2005 that crossed S. Fl. Businesses & bridges will be able to stay open & power will generally stay on though sporadic outages might occur. On the storm's backside there was quite the dump of chilly air which will occur for the First Coast next week as what should be subtropical/hybrid "Sandy" moves into the NE U.S. hundreds of miles away from the First Coast.
Wave heights courtesy NOAA: