Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. -- Carl Sandburg
There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy in the Mid-Atlantic

Here she comes!  Hurricane Sandy is turning northwest into the mid Atlantic area with unusual force for this area.  This is a very rare meteorological event.  Most hurricanes bop up the east coast  and head for Long Island or east and out to sea and just brush by this area.  A fairly rare upper level air pattern developed where a strong cold front that dumped on the west coast a few days ago arrived combined with a low pressure system out in the middle of the Atlantic along with what we call an Omega ridge in the middle of the two.  The Omega form is a strong ridge and not easily dislodged.  The upper air isobars form what looks like the capital Greek letter omega with the two low pressure systems forming the legs and the ridge in the middle forming the arch of the letter.

Sandy, with her copious warm water energy, shoots up the western trough of this formation.  The strong ridge anchored by the mid-Atlantic low doesn't move and that forces the hurricane westward into the oncoming front.  Thus the ingredients for a super-storm -  a hurricane that merges with a strong cold front.  Instead of the hurricane losing strength as it moves over cold water as normally happens, the energy of the cold front merges with the energy of the hurricane to form one hell of a strong low pressure system with tropical amounts of water in it.  Because of the Omega ridge, the western low pressure system tilts back towards the west as Sandy gets sucked into it.  This is the classic formation of the Nor'Easter.

Since Sandy is such a huge lateral storm covering an immense area, I got the first bands of rain starting last night here (about 50 miles west of Baltimore).  The upper air pattern causes her to have more rain bands on the west side and much farther north than the usual hurricane as the front sucks her up.  Also unusual is the cold temps in the mid-40s.  We have the cold frontal temperatures here while near the coast is much warmer.  The big temperature differential also contributes to the strength of this storm.  It's been raining since last night and there is already more than 3 inches of rain in my gauge (Monday afternoon) with lots more to come.  Another very unusual thing about this storm is that the western hills of Maryland are expected to get 8-12 inches of heavy wet snow tonight.  It is very unusual for a tropical storm to also have snow in the forecast.

I'm in my house but my house is on well water so having water is dependent on having electricity.  So far, I've never been out of electricity for over 24 hours here but it does get to be a bit primitive without water.  In preparation for this storm which will not give me the full brunt of its power this far away from the coast, is to have plenty of spare water on hand in case the electricity goes.  I'm getting a few gallons of filtered water for me to drink and making sure the pet water is full.  I also put a few gallons of water into my freezer to help keep things cold.

Because I have my camper van in my driveway plugged into my house electric, my batteries are fully charged.  There is still a lot of water in its tank and I turned the refrigerator on today so it will be plenty cold in case the power goes out.  In these cool temps, it will run on just the batteries for 2 or more days.  My propane tank is close to full so I can run the generator if needed.  I also recharged the Coleman LED lantern's batteries so they will have a full charge.

If the power goes out, I can just clean out the van and move in there.  The van makes these types of storms so much less primitive since it is fully self-contained for a few days.  My young dog is frustrated by this weather.  She keeps asking to go out but then doesn't want to stay out with it so wet.  The cat likes to sit on my lap, then the dog want to play with her.  She's old and gets cranky with that treatment.

But I have some chores to get done.  This week, I discovered that my patio door has been leaking for a long time.  Yesterday, I taped plastic along its base to try to keep the storm water out it.  I have a foot long hole in the floor and some joist damage that I have to fix.  This morning, I went to Lowes and set up to get a replacement door.  I'm going to scrape out all the rot to see whether putty will do or if I need to replace.  And I need to move my computer/desk out of that corner so there is plenty of room to work.  A search on the Internet revealed that all those Atrium doors that were so popular in the '80s have this problem.  My objective is sell this house so any decent door will do but something like this has to be fixed!  I made sure to get a house on a hill so there is no risk of it flooding.  Floods are likely to happen with this storm and in the coastal and tidal river areas, already are happening.  But I'm ready with little effort to weather it out.
Water in my drainage ditch from Sandy - it drains just a few acres!


  1. wow... Mary ... hope Sandy takes a powder soon... your place looks beautiful... I forget where you are ...

  2. I hope it doesn't get too bad there for you. Please post updates on how you are when you can.

  3. Great explanation for the formation of the Nor'Easter. Stay safe.

  4. We survived the night with sketchy sleep due to the howling winds but there seems to be no damage. Just a whole lot of soggy leaves. The super storm Sandy is still swirling just a few miles north of me now and it is still raining. The winds have died down and the rush of water in my ditch is gone now. It is still heading westward and hasn't made the turn to head north yet. Cold here - in the low 40's. There's 4.25" in my rain gauge but that is probably quite a bit too low as the wind blowing so hard makes a lot of drops miss the gauge. The next problem is flooding. With so much rain, it is likely the Potomac will flood like it did in '96 - really high. My house sits on a hill so I won't have a problem.

    The animals are going stir crazy. It is good for the dog to learn patience. My internet is slow this morning. Who knows why. Probably was some damage on the servers or power issues. Lots of things are still closed today.

    Carolyn, I'm in mid- Maryland.

  5. Glad you are safe and no real damage to your place.


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