We’re keeping a close eye on what will likely become a rapidly-strengthening coastal storm the end of this week, which will affect the Northeast and really the entire US East Coast is some way. Now while we know there will be a storm, there is plenty of uncertainty in regards to how exactly this storm will impact the United States. We’re going to break down for you what we know, what is uncertain about the forecast, and our current thoughts about how you may be affected.



What We Know:

  • A storm will develop over the Central Plains and will track northeast toward the Great Lakes Wednesday into Thursday. By then, part of the energy associated with this low pressure will move off the Northeast coast and lead to the development of a second storm Thursday afternoon/night.
  • This storm has the potential to rapidly intensify with pressures dropping from around 1000 millibars Thursday night to around 970 millibars by Friday night.
  • Minor to moderate to even major coastal flooding will impact much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic coast during a time or abnormally high tides.
  • Elevated surf will affect most of the US East Coast at the end of this week into the weekend.
  • Gusty winds are expected of at least 30-40 mph across much of the Northeast with higher gusts at the coast.




Current Uncertainty:

  • Forecast confidence: low to moderate
  • Speed of the storm:
    • Will it stall off the coast? Or will it be progressive and head out to sea relatively quick?
  • Track of the storm:
    • The European model image below shows different scenarios of where this coastal low may be centered on Friday, based on slightly different environmental conditions.
  • Strength of the storm:
    • We know it will intensify off the coast, but by how much? This will determine how large the onshore waves will be and the specific coastal impacts.
  • Precipitation type, which is determined by how cold the air will be and where exactly the coastal low will track.
    • This will likely mainly be a rain event for most of the Northeast, as of now, while snow is more of a certainty for portions of western and central New York, Pennsylvania, and northern New England.
    • Because we don’t know where exactly it will snow, we virtually have no idea how much will fall. Could there be significant snow of at least half a foot? Yes, but stayed tuned as confidence hopefully increases on Wednesday. Below is a comparison between the snowfall outputs from the American (GFS) model and the European (ECMWF) model. Keep in mind this is NOT an official forecast but is instead used to explain the model uncertainty.

Forecast:

Keep in mind this forecast will likely change, but we want to show you our current thoughts in regards to this storm for the Northeast.

A widespread shield of rain is likely to move in from the southwest as the day progresses on Thursday, affecting the Mid-Atlantic back toward Lake Erie. By the evening, it will make its way into the New York City area. It’s not until the overnight hours when our storm begins to form and strengthen off the coast, which is also when the uncertainty ramps up. We’re currently thinking snow is possible Friday night across western and central New York and northern Pennsylvania. Northwestern New Jersey may also deal with a wet snow as well. Meanwhile at the coast, this is expected to be a rain event up and down the I-95 corridor.




Now as we get into Friday, another question is whether our storm will still be right off the coast or if it will be more progressive and move out to sea. We’re thinking rain showers will continue through at least the morning hours from southern New England down through the northern Mid-Atlantic region while light snow showers fall in western New York and Pennsylvania as well as portions of northern New England. By Friday night, most of the activity is expected to wane, unless our storm decides to stick around a bit longer.

Throughout the day on Friday, gusty winds is expected with many areas clocking in gusts at around 30 mph with the potential for gusts up to 55 mph at the immediate coast of southeastern New England. This may lead to isolated to scattered power outages.

Forecast Wave Heights Saturday

Tides will also be astronomically high, so some coastal areas have a moderate to high chance of dealing with moderate flooding due to strong, onshore winds combined with high surf. Waves may exceed ten feet at times along the coast. From the eastern New England coast through the Mid-Atlantic, rip currents will be a threat in addition to the rough surf from Friday through potentially early next week. For the rest of the East Coast from the Carolinas southward through Florida, the impacts will be a bit delayed as winds shift from offshore to onshore. The greatest impacts will likely be from Saturday through early next week as well.

Stay tuned for the latest details on this storm as we approach its arrival. The WeatherOptics team will keep you with up-to-date information.



Author

Jackson is COO and Head of Content and Strategy of WeatherOptics. He also designed his own website and created the local company, Jackson's Weather. He has been forecasting the weather for southwestern Connecticut since March of 2015. He will major in Meteorology and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Miami in Fall 2018.

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