Friday, October 26, 2012

Tracking Sandy


If you're interested, that's a screen shot of the predicted path as of this morning of Hurricane Sandy. For various reasons meteorologists are getting better and better at predicting the paths of storms, though not the intensity at any one time. The possibility that Sandy may come into contact with a more typical North American weather system means that a big hybrid system may develop.
And, as Adam Sobel explains on Climate Central, that would result in an unpredictable storm.
As Sandy moves northward, it will move over cooler water. If this were all that were happening, Sandy would weaken, as tropical cyclones moving toward a pole typically do. At the same time, though, Sandy will come close enough to the upper trough now over the U.S. to interact with that trough in something like the way that an extratropical surface low normally would  . . .
When this happens, they will form a hybrid storm system with some tropical and some extratropical properties. Some energy will still come from the ocean surface, but some will now come from the pole-to-equator temperature contrast. This new energy source will enable Sandy to maintain its intensity, or maybe even increase it.
This process is called “extratropical transition.” It poses a lot of problems for forecasters. In the first place, the computer models aren’t that great at predicting exactly when it will happen. 
So keep an eye on the storm. You can do it easily through ESRI's social storm tracker:

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