October 23, 2012

Tropical Storm Sandy Forms in Caribbean

Tropical Storm Sandy has formed in the Caribbean, and scenarios for its final destination range from bypassing the East Coast to creating a nightmare for millions of people. Tropical Depression 18 formed in the central Caribbean at midday Monday and strengthened into Tropical Storm Sandy six hours later. The AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center is confident the tropical storm will head northward through Thursday, spreading life-threatening flooding rain across Jamaica, Hispaniola, eastern Cuba and the Bahamas. It is not out of the question that Sandy will be nearing or at hurricane strength before it slams into Jamaica on Wednesday.

How Sandy tracks Friday and beyond is dependent on several weather factors, which at this time are very complex and creating solutions that range from a tropical nightmare to a miss for the East Coast. The worst case scenario for the East Coast involves Sandy paralleling the coast from Florida to the Carolinas this weekend before being drawn inland into the mid-Atlantic or New England early next week. While the Southeast coast would face heavy rain, strong winds and rough surf, far more serious impacts await communities from Virginia to Maine if this solution pans out. Not only would destructive winds and widespread flooding rain accompany Sandy onshore, but a significant storm surge would unfold near and northeast of its center.
Reminiscent of the "Perfect Storm," the weather setup could even lead to heavy, wet snow in the Appalachian Mountains on Sandy's western side. However, the above solution is far from set in stone. There is equal possibility that the jet stream will sweep east fast enough to offer the East Coast protection from Sandy. Bermuda may then become the storm's target. Yet another solution would spare the East Coast of a direct hit but would still bring Sandy close enough to graze the coastline with adverse impacts.

The bottom line is that while uncertainty exists with Sandy's final destination, this is a storm that should be monitored closely by all residents from Florida to the Northeast.

By Kristina Pydynowski, Senior Meteorologist – AccuWeather.com

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