"Sandy" Chugging North......
FOR THE FIRST COAST.....effects from "Sandy" will continue to wane but rough seas & surf & rip currents will still make for dangerous conditions at area beaches. Gusty winds will continue through Sunday evening averaging 15-25 mph with a few higher gusts as "Sandy" lifts away from the First Coast. Wrap-around low clouds have cleared & will make for a nice Sunday albeit brisk..
"Sandy" finally reached Jax's latitude late Sat. afternoon but -- as expected -- 350+ miles to the east. The storm is starting to accelerate northeast away from the First Coast"Sandy" & is now taking on the classic look of a transition to a more subtropical system. Forecast models have come into better agreement -- in general -- regarding an intense hybrid (post tropical) 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 including such major metro areas as Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City & Boston. The NHC has posted a link on their website explaining the transition & forecast protocol as "Sandy" becomes post-tropical - click here.
First Coast 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 reminds me of the late Oct. hurricane -- "Wilma" -- in 2005 that crossed S. Fl. in that it was followed by a big temp. drop (though "Wilma" continued out to sea). On Sandy's backside there will be quite the dump of chilly air for the First Coast the next few days as subtropical/hybrid "Sandy" moves into the NE U.S. hundreds of miles up the U.S east coast.
Wave heights courtesy NOAA:
Just a quick diagnosis/discussion on why the First Coast was spared "Sandy". The track is/was related to the atmospheric set-up & not because of water temps. or our local geography. First of all...."Sandy" was a classic late season storm that developed in the Caribbean (climatalogically favored late in the hurricane season & an area to possibly watch near Nov. 10th). Because the jet stream is usually starting to dip farther south this time of year as we get deeper into autumn, Caribbean storms in Oct./Nov. typically are swept north &/or northeast as was the case with "Sandy". Intensity of such storms are usually greatest in & near the Caribbean because the water temps. are still plenty warm (85+) & shear is typically minimal. In Sandy's case, a weak upper low was located near Fl. so once "Sandy" moved from Cuba into the Southern Bahamas, the storm was steered north then northwest for a short time (Thu. night-Fri.) before the upper low weakened allowing "Sandy" to turn back to the north then northeast. So the weak upper low became the primary steering influence that kept the storm well east of Fl. A tropical storm watch/warning was issued for the Fl. coast because of the wide & expanding wind field to the northwest of the center though sustained tropical storm force winds never occurred anywhere on the First Coast. The next major steering mechanism for "Sandy" will be a large upper level high over the N. Atlantic & -- more importantly -- a strong & intensifying upper level trough of low pressure that will sweep into the Eastern & NE U.S. the next few days. This trough is the system that will draw "Sandy" back to the west & northwest with an eventual landfall between Chesapeake Bay & Boston early in the week as a large & intense hybrid storm system that will produce strong winds, heavy rain, flooding & heavy inland higher elevation snow. The map is below is the upper level forecast by the GFS model for early Mon. The dip to the west is the strong upper level trough that will "suck in" Sandy from east to west....the bright colored "ball" in the W. Atlantic is "Sandy" while a huge blocking upper level high pressure ridge is established near Newfoundland.