First Hurricane Sandy, now Winter Storm Athena for the Eastern U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:57 PM GMT on November 07, 2012

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Winter Storm Warnings are up for Southwest New Jersey, Northern Delaware, and Southeast Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, PA, where Winter Storm Athena is expected to drop 3 - 5" of snow today through Thursday morning. Slushy accumulations of up to 1" are likely in Baltimore, and non-accumulating snow will fall as far south as Washington, DC. Athena, the season's first Nor'easter and first winter storm to get a name under The Weather Channel's new naming system, is spreading rain and high winds into Southern New Jersey and Eastern Long Island, NY this morning. Winds at buoy 44025, about 40 miles offshore from the coast of Central New Jersey, reached 40 mph, gusting to 49 mph, with a significant wave height of 14', at noon EST. Winds at Nantucket, MA have gusted as high as 54 mph this morning. Athena is building a storm surge that has already reached 2.2' at Atlantic City and 1.8' at New York City as of noon EST. A storm surge of 2 - 3.5' is likely along the section of coast most heavily damaged by Sandy's storm surge, and battering waves up to 20' high will cause moderate beach erosion along much of the New Jersey and New York shoreline. The storm surge will cause minor to moderate flooding during this afternoon's high tide cycle near 1 pm EST, and again at the next high tide, near 1 am EST Thursday morning. Fortunately, the high tides this week will be some of the lowest of the month, since we are midway between the new moon and full moon. Wind gusts from Athena will likely reach 50 mph along the coasts of New Jersey and Southern Long Island, NY, and could hit 60 mph on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I expect that Athena's winds, rains, and wet, heavy snows will cause up to 50,000 new power outages today. As of early Wednesday morning, 676,000 customers were still without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy (down from a peak of 8.5 million customers.)


Figure 1. Winter Storm Athena as seen at 9:01 am EST November 7, 2012. Image credit: NOAA/GSFC.


Figure 2. Predicted storm surge at Sandy Hook, NJ, for Winter Storm Athena, from the experimental Extratropical Storm Surge model, run by NOAA's Meteorological Development Laboratory. This model used winds from this morning's 6Z (1 am EDT) run of the GFS model. The peak storm surge (yellowish-brown line) is predicted to be 3.4', occurring Wednesday evening. High tide (green line) occurs near 1 pm Wednesday afternoon, resulting in a peak storm tide of approximately 7.2' around 1 pm Wednesday (black line). For comparison, Sandy delivered a 8.6' storm surge to Sandy Hook before their tide gauge failed, with the storm tide reaching 13.2' above MLLW (Mean Lower Low Water.)

The decision to name Athena
The Weather Channel announced in October that they would begin naming winter storms this year, in an effort to aid in raising awareness and reduce the risks the public faces. One of the main criteria for naming a storm is its impact on populated areas; the meteorology of the storm may not get it named, if the storm doesn't affect a populated area. If Hurricane Sandy had not devastated the region of coast being affected by today's Winter Storm Athena, it may not have gotten a name. With so many people still under recovery efforts even well inland, the combination of heavy, wet snow and wind prompted the decision to name Athena. The models have been trending towards more cold air getting pulled into this system, so it is possible Athena could drop heavier snows than currently advertised. The National Weather Service will not be referring to today's Nor'easter as "Athena". They put out this internal directive: "The NWS does not use named winter storms in our products. Please refrain from using the term Athena in any of our products."

Here are the peak wind gusts from Athena as of 11 am EST on Wednesday, November 7, 2012:



Jeff Masters

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Quoting LargoFl:
looks good over in Texas this week...............
I miss texas. I used to live in clear lake city south of houston
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Quoting TomballTXPride:
Ain't complaining one bit, Largo. I'm a very happy woman.

Thank you for posting my weather.
..np..plse send some of those 80's over here lol
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
looks good over in Texas this week...............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Quoting AussieStorm:






WS Brutus is here. I forgot NWS does not do that
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and the misery just keeps on growing in the northeast gee............Tens of thousands lose power as Sandy-ravaged areas reel from nor'easter.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Quoting jerseybreakfast:
I like the idea of naming winter storms, "official" or not. I'd rather call a winter storm "Herbert" or "Legolas" rather than "That One Time That Three Feet Of Snow Got Dumped On My Car Overnight, Or Was It That Other Time That Was Like A Week Later? I Cannot Recall."
Yeah, it gives people an excuse to use less vocabulary in their lives! LOL.
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Quoting Waltanater:
Where is "HERE?"
Tampa bay area walter
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375




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Quoting LargoFl:
well we here have 2 days of sweatshirt weather then it warms up again ..
Where is "HERE?"
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Andrew Cuomo ‏@NYGovCuomo
Remember to check on friends, family & neighbors this am after last night's #noreaster | Find shelters & warming ctrs: Link
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Quoting JeffMasters:
Latest 06Z GFS shows an unsettling possibility for Nov 22 - 23: a tropical cyclone heading towards New England, a blocking ridge in place over Greenland, and a strong negatively tilted trough over the Eastern U.S., which would have the potential to pull the tropical cyclone to the NW and merge with a big extratropical cyclone over New England. Granted, 2-week GFS forecasts are very low reliability, but I don't like seeing another Sandy-type situation predicted by the GFS.

Jeff Masters


I would assume that if a situation like that occurred again we would see a much quicker transition to an extra-tropical cyclone much further south in latitude? I'd imagine with SST's drop of 2 Celsius or more from the Gulf Stream south has occurred since Sandy was in that area...



Not to mention that the troughs have been digging further south as well. That is one monster trough the models are showing early next week.




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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
The low got to 26F this morning and the temp is only 29F right now per my weather station, brrr.
Have a great day everyone, I am going to school so bye.
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
almost over for NJ and NYC..............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
GFS at 336 hours,850 vort..yep something there alright.....
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This area of disturbed weather should get a yellow circle soon. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but it should get a yellow circle by the end of the weekend.

Quoting JeffMasters:
Latest 06Z GFS shows an unsettling possibility for Nov 22 - 23: a tropical cyclone heading towards New England, a blocking ridge in place over Greenland, and a strong negatively tilted trough over the Eastern U.S., which would have the potential to pull the tropical cyclone to the NW and merge with a big extratropical cyclone over New England. Granted, 2-week GFS forecasts are very low reliability, but I don't like seeing another Sandy-type situation predicted by the GFS.

Jeff Masters

We could see Valerie and William
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Nam at 84 hours, check out down by the islands...........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
540. atris
Quoting JeffMasters:
Latest 06Z GFS shows an unsettling possibility for Nov 22 - 23: a tropical cyclone heading towards New England, a blocking ridge in place over Greenland, and a strong negatively tilted trough over the Eastern U.S., which would have the potential to pull the tropical cyclone to the NW and merge with a big extratropical cyclone over New England. Granted, 2-week GFS forecasts are very low reliability, but I don't like seeing another Sandy-type situation predicted by the GFS.

Jeff Masters


Its a long way out 336 hrs . I will be checking the models over the next few days . As its only when I see a long range storm over a few runs that I get concerned. But I sure hope it doesnt happen
Member Since: September 9, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 56
Quoting AussieStorm:

Remember the 2010 floods on the Mississippi, most was caused by to much melt water.
yes that also could happen
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Quoting LargoFl:
it would be good if we get exceptional snowfalls this winter, in the spring when we get the melting..it will help those states that have water shortages etc.

Remember the 2010 floods on the Mississippi, most was caused by to much melt water.
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GFS at 348 hours....................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Photo from my daughters bedroom window of the storm.

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Quoting wxchaser97:

With it 2012 and more cold shots expected it is possible. I would be pretty happy just to get average snowfall this year though.

In the warnings by the NWS, the blizzard out west(Brutus) is expected to drop up to 1 1/2 feet of snow and have sustained TS force winds, how fun.
it would be good if we get exceptional snowfalls this winter, in the spring when we get the melting..it will help those states that have water shortages etc.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
I cannot imagine..yet another powerful storm hitting the northeast once again,somehow we must be taking a good hard look at this climate change thing, now IF..this is going to become the NORM in years to come..officials up there will have to rethink..how close to the waterline they allow homes etc..perhaps..parkland along the coastline with no homes,businesses etc in the flooding zones?..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Quoting LargoFl:
since we had a hot summer..lets see if this coming winter is colder and stronger than usual with more snowfall etc.

With it 2012 and more cold shots expected it is possible. I would be pretty happy just to get average snowfall this year though.

In the warnings by the NWS, the blizzard out west(Brutus) is expected to drop up to 1 1/2 feet of snow and have sustained TS force winds, how fun.
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Quoting JeffMasters:
Latest 06Z GFS shows an unsettling possibility for Nov 22 - 23: a tropical cyclone heading towards New England, a blocking ridge in place over Greenland, and a strong negatively tilted trough over the Eastern U.S., which would have the potential to pull the tropical cyclone to the NW and merge with a big extratropical cyclone over New England. Granted, this is a 2-week forecast, but I don't like seeing another Sandy-type situation predicted by the GFS.

Jeff Masters

Oh please oh please let the GFS be wrong, this could be a 1,2,3 knock out hit.
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529. JeffMasters (Admin)
Latest 06Z GFS shows an unsettling possibility for Nov 22 - 23: a tropical cyclone heading towards New England, a blocking ridge in place over Greenland, and a strong negatively tilted trough over the Eastern U.S., which would have the potential to pull the tropical cyclone to the NW and merge with a big extratropical cyclone over New England. Granted, 2-week GFS forecasts are very low reliability, but I don't like seeing another Sandy-type situation predicted by the GFS.

Jeff Masters
I'd love to be in Montana. Winter Storm Brutus is expected to bring blizzard conditions to the area.

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Quoting wxchaser97:
Here comes the warmup that was expected. This will likely be the last great weekend until next year for me.
since we had a hot summer..lets see if this coming winter is colder and stronger than usual with more snowfall etc.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
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Here comes the warmup that was expected. This will likely be the last great weekend until next year for me.
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
...........is the hurricane season just about over?..my guess is for florida..yeah but we still have 2-3 weeks left on the official season..we'll see
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
This area of disturbed weather should get a yellow circle soon. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but it should get a yellow circle by the end of the weekend.

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I guess it would not be so bad..if they just named those real bad winter coastal nor'easters..NOT the usual winter storms that come across the country...those winter nor'easters can be brutal and bad..like winter hurricanes they are..then again..coastal areas along the east coast are quite used to these storms along with the snowfall etc..for example..this current nor'easter..people didnt even evacuate..if it wasnt for sandy's damage etc..people would hardly be talking about this current storm outside of snowfall amounts IF they were excessive huh
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
516. atris
Quoting LargoFl:
its the NWS not the NHC that ..if they wanted to..name winter storms..the NHC only names tropical systems..and its NOT going to happen


I was actually answering a point that was raised over how people probably reacted when hurricanes were first named... I know that, its the NWS that would be the body that should name winter storms ,if they were to go down the same route as NHC in naming storms but they are not
Member Since: September 9, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 56

COASTAL HAZARD MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WAKEFIELD VA
506 AM EST THU NOV 8 2012

MDZ024-025-082200-
/O.EXT.KAKQ.CF.W.0002.000000T0000Z-121108T2200Z/
INLAND WORCESTER-MARYLAND BEACHES-
506 AM EST THU NOV 8 2012

...COASTAL FLOOD WARNING NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 5 PM EST THIS
AFTERNOON...

* COASTAL FLOODING: MINOR TO MODERATE COASTAL FLOODING DURING HIGH
TIDE THIS AFTERNOON...ESPECIALLY ON THE EASTERN SIDE OF THE BAYS
FROM OCEAN CITY TO ASSATEAGUE.

* TIMING: A FEW HOURS EITHER SIDE OF HIGH TIDE THIS AFTERNOON.

* IMPACTS: WATER LEVELS ARE FORECAST TO REACH 2 TO 2.5 FT ABOVE
NORMAL THIS AFTERNOON. AT OCEAN CITY INLET...MINOR FLOODING
BEGINS AT 4.0 FT MLLW...AND MODERATE FLOODING BEGINS AT 5.0 FT
MLLW.

* TIDES: AT OCEAN CITY INLET...HIGH TIDE THIS AFTERNOON IS AT 249
PM EST WITH A FORECAST WATER LEVEL OF 4.2 TO 4.4 FT MLLW.

* FOR LOCAL TIDE AND SURGE FORECASTS IN YOUR LOCATION VISIT
WEATHER.GOV/AKQ.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
513. atris
Quoting AussieStorm:
It would be funny if Brutus became bustus.



Laugh out loud!!Too funny.

Not alot showing on the General US radar except in the North East

Member Since: September 9, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 56
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Quoting AussieStorm:
Gif of the supercell storm that brought chaos to western Sydney. RFD or Tornado caused damage to shopping center, factory roof, trees down, power poles down, pea to golf ball size hail. So very glad it didn't come my way.

wow that was a bad storm there aussie
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.