The barometric pressure, which is a measure of a storm's intensity, has dropped this morning from 960 to 951. The Perfect Storm and Storm of the Century pressure were in the low 960's making this storm one of much greater intensity. The pressure could drop into the 940's before landfall.
Storm surges for Long Island, Long Island Sound, New York City and New Jersey are now expected to be 6 to 8 feet and that does include wave height. Some waves will be as high as 12 to 18 feet along the shore on top of the surge. Already off North Carolina, waves have been measured up to 35 feet!
If the surge reaches that height in New York Harbor (the waves will not be that high in the harbor), the odds dramatically increase the subways and tunnels will fill with water. Power will have to be sure off in large sections of New York City to avoid fires and greater damage to the grid system.
Over 250,00 homes could sustain storm surge damage reaching into the billions.
John Hopkins University models are showing up to ten million people could be without power up to 10 days.
The storm is so big that hurricane force guests could be felt in Buffalo and Pittsburgh!
In many ways, this is the first storm of the 'climate change age' with warmer waters enabling monster storms to grow to unbelievable size and strength.
Well known and respected hurricane expert Bryan Norcross especially warns New York City and is concerned that Mayor Bloomberg has downplayed this storm. He says
"Normally we would say the fat lady has sung, and get ready to fold up our hurricane hunters and go home. But, those same reliable computer models are saying that Combo Sandy is going to get reinvigorated by the jet stream while still getting energy from the Gulf Stream tomorrow and Monday, and get stronger and bigger. And then pounce on the Northeast.
The bigness of the circulation means big problems in at least two ways. A tremendous area from Canada to North Carolina to Ohio will be getting high winds from Sandy at the same time. That means trees down, power out, and a lot of miserable people in the chilly weather after the storm. And more importantly, the amount of energy the storm puts in the ocean water goes up dramatically with the diameter of the high-wind area. Not to mention, Sandy is already one of the biggest hurricanes on record.
When Sandy moves toward the coast, that high-energy water comes with it, which means high storm surge and stunningly high waves.
If the center of the circulation lands on the Jersey Shore, as looks most likely, the focus on that energy is going to be on North Jersey, New York Harbor, and the south shore of Long Island. The National Weather Service in New York is predicting waves 10 to 20 feet high on the south-facing beaches. Holy crap!
Did I also mention that's on top of the storm surge, which is forecast to raise the ocean level 4 to 8 feet above normal? And did I also mention that there's a full moon and the storm's peak is expected to be around high tide? Holy triple whammy!
That NJ/NYC/Long Island elbow is like a catchers mitt for storm surge, on the rare occasion that a big storm comes at it from the southeast or east... just like Sandy's forecast. The only thing that can stop extremely high water with battering waves from affecting the region is for the forecast to be wrong.
If the forecast is even mostly right, the ocean water will come in higher than during Hurricane Irene, which came within a foot of doing serious damage to NYC infrastructure. And that brings up the incomprehensibly inexplicable news conference by Mayor Bloomberg.
I'm NOT saying that the Mayor should have ordered an evacuation. That's for him to decide, and it's a tough decision. But to play down the biggest storm to come along in years - if the forecast is even close - seems bizarrely out of character. There's no upside in this everything-is-rosy approach. He could have expressed concern for the people whose houses are going to get smashed along the coast, but said AT THIS TIME he was going to hold off on any evacuation orders. A statement like that gives him room to maneuver and people get the message that preparation is required."