Hurricane "Sandy" Moving Into the Bahamas; Tropical Storm "Tony" In Central Atlantic Becoming Extratropical......
Hurricane WARNING for Parts of Eastern/Central Cuba & the Central & NW, Parts of SE Bahamas...; Tropical Storm WARNING for the Central Fl. East Coast, SE Bahamas & Haiti... Tropical Storm WATCH for NE Fl. Coast, Parts of Upper Keys & Far SE Fl.....
** The tropical storm WATCH & WARNING for the First Coast & Fl. coast & upper Keys 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 forecast path which is a center well to the east of Fl** ......
"Sandy" is marching north into the Bahamas after a strong hit on Eastern Cuba with a 2nd landfall about 1:25am EDT Thu. after an initial landfall near Kingston, Jamaica about 3pm EDT The fear of rapid strengthening did come true as a small distinct eye appeared just before landfall early Thu. (see the image beneath the "spaghetti plots" below). Strong upper level troughing looks like it'll become reinforced -- in one form another -- over the Northern & Eastern U.S. which should protect the Southeast U.S. from the brunt of the storm. The GFS model shows a steady move north through the Bahamas & now whips the storm back to the west into far NE New England (approx. Maine) as a powerful hybrid storm. The European model has maintained a much sharper northward, even northwest farther up the U.S. coast plowing into Southern New England next week as an intense hybrid storm. Both models show the center far to the east of Fl. but with an expanding wind field. 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 but heavy rain & flooding will continue through tonight for Hispaniola. Conditions will quickly deteriorate across the Bahamas through Fri. into Sat. "Sandy" will move north & undergo increasing shear by the weekend as it moves into the W. Atlantic east of Fl. The combination of the shear + interaction with an upper level trough & possible frontal system could give the tropical cyclone a more subtropical structure this weekend/early next week. Any cruises this week to the Bahamas &/or Caribbean might have to be rerouted but will still get out of port, just a matter of where the cruise will exactly be able to go.
"Sandy" already appears to be weakening some on satellite photos which has been confirmed by hurricane hunter aircraft. The eye is not as well defined & we're starting to see signs of a more lopsided system with an expansive cloud shield to the north of the center, intense convection near the center but heavy showers & storms becoming more prevalent over the east & southeast quadrants. As "Sandy" tries to take on some subtropical characteristics, some heavier rain may begin to expand to the northwest. How far will determine how much rain the First Coast gets or does not get. At the moment, 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. morning but less wind inland. I have few concerns about significant damage for the First Coast though the beaches will take a pretty decent beating due to persistent strong onshore winds that become offshore over the weekend.
SO FOR THE FIRST COAST.....it would appear directly effects will be relegated to a stiff east/northeast wind through Fri. night that becomes offshore -- from the N/NW -- Sat.-Sun.
* very rough seas & surf
* a very high & dangerous rip current risk
* beach erosion & some coastal flooding, especially at times of high tide
-- all, of course, dependent on the exact location & intensity of "Sandy". Conditions at area beaches will become downright dangerous into the weekend.
Wave heights courtesy NOAA:
Infrared satellite imagery of "Sandy" @ 1:06am EDT Thu. just before Cuban landfall:
Tropical storm "Tony" is over the Central Atlantic but has already made the turn north/northeast. A cold front will soon absorb "Tony" -- & along with increasing shear -- will move the storm quite sharply east/northeast & accelerate far to the east of the U.S. over the open Atlantic followed by a more northward turn early next week toward the Azores Islands as a post-tropical ocean storm.