Sandy – two days to go

I stripped the sails and dodger off of the Bald Eagle Too yesterday, taking her into the town dock so I could back the car onto the pier and load it up with sails, canvas, cushions, pillows and bedding left over from the summer. The boom came off easily and I cut off the rigging tape from the turnbuckles, pulled some cotter pins, but left the clevises in as it looks like I am not going to get hauled and the boat will have to ride things out on a hurricane buoy in the inner harbor.

I’m not too freaked out by this one. The assistant harbormaster was on the town dock and predicted three inches of rain but prolonged conditions worst than Irene a year ago. He’s ex-Coast Guard and said his buddies at the Cape May station are staring a big one in the eye as Sandy is predicted to make a perpendicular landfall somewhere between Delaware Bay and Sandy Hook on Monday.

The discussion between the professional meteorologists on is generally too technical for me to follow, but a few of them are making some pretty dramatic statements about the one-of-a-kind confluence of circumstances that gives this storm the potential to really disrupt life for a lot of people in the mid-Atlantic states. When some of the professional voices in that forum start to make grave pronouncements that this is going to be a monster, I start to pay attention.


As of today (Saturday morning), they are in general agreement that Sandy is pulling a rope-a-dope by declining in power from a hurricane (sustained winds over 70 mph, tropical temperatures throughout) to an “extra-tropical storm” or “northeaster” as it gets sucked in a question-mark shaped course out of the usual cyclone pattern of moving from the southwest to the northeast along the Gulf Stream. A weather system coming east from the mid-west is causing the button-hook maneuver and will bring it abruptly west along the shipping lanes into New York City and the Chesapeake right into New Jersey. The professionals say it will intensify as it meets the low pressure system over Ohio and Pennsylvania, with its barometric pressure dropping potentially to a low level below that of the infamous 1938 Long Island hurricane. Low pressure means intense winds, the collision with the mid-west weather means Sandy will get held in place and start to dump a lot of rain on the Delmarva Peninsula up to NYC.

The effects on Cape Cod will be mostly wind from an extraordinarily large wind field — it looks like those winds will be hitting us from the southwest and west on Monday night through Tuesday. The reasons the forecasters sound more freaked out that usual are:

  1. The “perfect-storm” scenario of a tropical storm meeting a big low pressure system over the most heavily populated section of the US
  2. This would be one of the few storms to strike, as opposed to glance off, the shore.
  3. It is hitting on a full moon.
  4. The barometric profile in the models suggest it will come ashore with exceptionally low pressure, pushing a considerable surge in front of it as high as ten feet.
  5. The confluence means it will stall over the tri-state area and “grind” away before slipping off to the north. This means a long prolonged period of soaking rains and high winds.
  6. The trees in the mid-Atlantic are still heavy with leaves, so knock-downs are inevitable, causing power outages.
  7. The mid-west system could cause winter-like conditions later next week, a bad scenario if lots of people are without power.
  8. Some professionals are saying this could be a “4.2” out of a scale of 6.0 in terms of damages. The most hysterical are saying it will be the biggest weather event since 1938, most agree it will cause damages in the “billions” and could exceed Irene in terms of impact.

It’s gorgeous here today, so I’m off to the beach to make the most of it and to fiddle around on the boat and essentially do what I needed to do anyway later next week when the boatyard comes to haul me for the winter. I’m supposed to be at a meeting in NYC on Tuesday and other outside of Philly on Wednesday — doubting either is going to happen.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

3 thoughts on “Sandy – two days to go”

  1. Thank you, David. This is an ideal encapsulation of what is going on. If only the weather guys could write as clearly and as gracefully as you do.

  2. David: Hi…I thought about where I could go to get some ‘on the ground’ info on Sandy, and you came to mind. Sure enough, you are all over it! Thanks. Hope you and yours are well. Krista

    1. Doing well up here. It’s just rolling in now and tossing the trees around. Living minute by minute until the power fails! Hope all is well in NC

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