We’ve mentioned it for days, now it looks to be almost inevitable that Michigan will see and feel some of the secondary effects from Hurricane Sandy.
West Michigan will likely see rain (and perhaps some snow showers mixing in at times) on Tuesday and Wednesday. Perhaps the bigger issue will be the strong, sustained winds that will start ramping up on Monday.
Monday will be breezy with winds from the north at about 12 to 24 mph, but may reach sustained speeds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts of 40 to 50 possible on Tuesday.
Winds will still be strong on Wednesday, and slowly diminish on Thursday as the actual center of low pressure pulls away into Canada. Gale warnings will likely be issued for Lake Michigan and could be upgraded to storm warnings.
In fact, the National Weather Service in Chicago and North Webster, Indiana have posted Lakeshore Flood Watches for the southern coast of Lake Michigan. We don’t see these very often, but they are expecting the winds from this system to generate waves as high as 20 feet or more in extreme northern Indiana along the shoreline. That could certainly result in significant beach erosion and lakeshore flooding along the south end of the lake. The high waves are the result of the long fetch and strong north winds that will push water down the entire length of the lake before slamming the south shore.
As of Sunday afternoon, Sandy is barely a category one hurricane with sustained winds of 75 mph (74 or greater qualifies as a hurricane). The tropical system is currently churning off the Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States and is expected to drop 4″ to 8″ of rain across that area along with pounding erosional surf, waves, and dangerous rip currents.
Sandy is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge flooding to the Mid-Atlantic coast, including Long Island Sound and New York harbor. Forecast models have this storm tracking inland somewhere along the New Jersey shore, then retrograding (moving east to west) into Pennsylvania. Sandy will eventually lose its tropical characteristics and get absorbed into a large upper level trough. The system will become a strong mid-latitude cyclone and continue to produce a fair amount of precipitation and wind. The official word from the National Hurricane Center is “this storm will transition into a frontal or wintertime low pressure system prior to landfall, but some strengthening is still possible”. Speaking of a winter type system, this storm will generate two to three feet of snow in the mountains of West Viginia.
You can get the latest on Sandy from the National Hurricane Center. You can see the clouds and rain associated with Sandy over the Mid-Atlantic/East Coast of the United States by clicking here. View all of the watches, warnings, and advisories that have been posted across the entire country from the Storm Prediction Center.
For those of you die-hard weather geeks interested is seeing what this system looks like on a computer forecast model and what we see as meteorologists, check out this image valid Tuesday morning. Note how you can see the entire country outlined. All the purple is potential precipitation, and the white/gray lines are isobars…lines of constant or equal air pressure. The more lines packed into a smaller area, the tighter the pressure gradient (or stronger the winds). Also notice the “low” over southern Pennsylvania. Strong, windy conditions, and rain showers are a given for Michigan.
For the complete West Michigan forecast, click over to www.fox17online.com/weather. Don’t forget to continue to email your Fall photos to us (firstname.lastname@example.org), or post them on the FOX 17 Facebook page. Have a pleasant week!