Ever since I got myself interested in meteorology as a kid, hurricanes have been one of my favorite weather events to track. So many people always ask me, “why hurricanes? We never get them in Ohio and Pennsylvania!.”
Well, usually, that’s true.
I take you back to Hurricane Isabel, in 2003. The center of the hurricane made landfall in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and then continued to move inland. On September 19th, the center of the remnants of Isabel went almost directly through Pittsburgh then northwest through Trumbull and Ashtabula counties. This brought a lot of rain to our area, and that September ended up being the 6th most wettest September on record at the Youngstown airport.
The remnants of Hurricane Katrina also paid us a visit in 2005.
While not common, the remnants of tropical systems do pay us visits in the Mahoning Valley and surrounding areas.
Today, as we watch the developments of Tropical Storm Sandy in the Caribbean, south of Jamaica, there has been a little hype over what the end of the weekend holds for her future. Most computer models take Sandy north into the Bahamas then curved out to sea. That warm weather we’re having this week will be erased this weekend as a large dip in the jet stream comes down and opens the door for cold air from Canada to sink down. This trough would be the one to kick out Sandy and keep her from impacting any areas close to home. This would also be backed up historically. Most storms that have formed in this time period in the southern Caribbean sea have taken a similar path out to sea.
A few computer models however, show Sandy feeding off of the aforementioned trough, and bring her up the east coast as a large extratropical (mid-latitude) system. If you’ve heard anyone on the news talking about that “mega storm” the last day or so, this is what they’re referring to. If, and that’s a BIG “if,” this were to materialize, we would definitely feel the effects in eastern Ohio and west PA.
As I said earlier, history backs option one, and the only thing we would have to worry about here is a pattern shift from the 70s to the 40s and 50s for highs. I would still back this option as well. However, since the computer models forecasting the New England scenario have been fairly consistent the past few model cycles, we can’t exclude this possibility yet.
The only thing I can say right now is yes we do need to monitor Sandy as well as the trough digging out of western Canada today. Here’s a look at the “spaghetti” models as of the latest model cycle on Tuesday morning. Each line is one mathematical formula’s solution to the atmospheric conditions that are forecast to surround Sandy over the next week. It shows the general consensus that I talked about, and shows the few outliers.
While it’s a rare occurrence, I get to monitor the tropics and how it might affect our area. You can bet I’ll be keeping you updated on the latest forecasts with Sandy!