The resulting storm "will be like a nor'easter with a hurricane embedded in it,"
said Bryan Norcross, hurricane specialist for The Weather Channel.
An early-season Nor'easter will form off the coast of South Carolina on Tuesday evening. Once over the warm waters off the coast, the low will intensify, spreading heavy rains of 1 - 2" over coastal North Carolina on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The storm will accelerate to the north-northeast on Wednesday and pull in cold air from Canada, and intensify into a medium-strength Nor'easter with a central pressure near 984 mb by Wednesday evening. While the exact track of the storm still has considerable uncertainty, the models are pretty unified on the timing and strength of this storm. A 12-hour period of strong winds of 40 - 45 mph will likely affect portions of the coast from Maryland to Massachusetts. A more westerly track, as currently predicted by our top model, the European ECMWF model, would likely result in the storm's strongest winds affecting the New Jersey coast. A storm surge of 2 - 4 feet would likely hit the New Jersey coast, and a storm surge of 3 - 5 feet would likely impact the western end of Long Island Sound. These surges would be accompanied by high, battering waves, capable of causing moderate to locally severe erosion along the coastal areas pounded by Hurricane Sandy last week. Fortunately, the high tides this week will be some of the lowest of the month, since we are midway between when the new moon and full moon occur. A more easterly track for the storm, as predicted by the GFS model, would put the Nor'easter's strongest winds along eastern Long Island and coastal Massachusetts, resulting in lower storm surges for New Jersey and New York City. Accompanying the storm will be a swath of 2 - 3" of rain, with the heaviest rains falling over Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The storm isn't going to tap into a large reservoir of cold, Arctic air, which will limit its intensity and snowfall amounts. Snow is not expected in coastal area, but the Nor'easter has the potential to bring more than a foot of snow to mountain areas of New England.
The National Hurricane Center is planning to send hurricane hunter aircraft to sample atmospheric conditions in portions of the eastern U.S. later today. Under code name Teal 71, this aircraft will measure upper-level conditions to help forecast models provide better, more accurate forecasts for how this storm system will evolve. As that data and another round of forecast models are run later today, we'll post updated snow forecast maps for the region. Below is one model's forecast this morning for snow; it is calling for snow for places like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City including all of New Jersey; it has the heaviest accumulations over central NJ. Again, this is just one model and after reviewing more data later today, we'll post forecast maps with our thinking.
An early-season Nor'easter is taking shape along the coast of South Carolina today, but is now forecast to be weaker and move farther offshore than originally forecast, resulting in lower impacts to the New Jersey and New York coasts than originally feared.
The Nor'easter's strongest winds will likely affect eastern Long Island and coastal Massachusetts, where wind gusts up to 60 mph will be possible Wednesday evening and Thursday. The storm's heaviest rains will stay offshore, and only Eastern Massachusetts can expect to see more than 1" of rain. The storm isn't going to tap into a large reservoir of cold, Arctic air, which will limit snowfall amounts to perhaps 1 - 2" along a swath from Northern New Jersey northeastwards, across Western Massachusetts and into Maine. While the storm will slow down recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy, this is a pretty ordinary Nor'easter of the type the Northeast sees several times per year, and will not cause major damage.