76 years ago, Category 3 hurricane slammed Long Island

For anybody who lives on Long Island or in New England, the Great Hurricane of 1938 will forever be remembered as the “worst of the worst”. Killing hundreds of people, destroying 57,000 homes and totaling $306 million in damages (~40B in 2014), the storm was the strongest and costliest storm to ever strike Long Island and New England. Damage from the storm, on trees and buildings, was still visible in the early to mid 1950′s, almost 20 years after the storm made landfall.

The storm’s origins can be tracked back to ship data from the Eastern Atlantic ocean, where the storm was first observed near the Cape Verde Islands on September 9th, 1938. The storm then, presumably, tracked west-northwestward while organizing. Data is sparse, but not incomplete — the storm reemerges in more dense data near the Bahamas on September 20th, 1938. At this point, the storm is estimated to have attained Category 5 status — with maximum sustained winds over 140 miles per hour. But it was here that the trouble began, for those in the Northeastern United States. The storm would never actually strike the Bahamas. Instead, it would begin veering to the north, on the periphery of a trough to its east.

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Large high pressure may bring prolonged pleasant weather

The pattern over the past few weeks has been, without doubt, a progressive and active one. There haven’t been any dominant areas of high or low pressure in our area, but instead the pattern has kept moving with intermittent periods of troughing and ridging as well as multiple cold fronts. If medium range forecast models are reasonably accurate, that’s about to change.

Models are in good agreement that a massive trough will develop over the Western United States during the mid to latter part of the  next work week. With the mid level jet stream recessed into Northern Canada and no real high latitude blocking to speak of over the Atlantic,  a ridge of high pressure will build over the East. Some forecast models even suggest the high pressure could get as strong as 1035mb — totally dominating the pattern over the Northeast.

What does this mean for us? Well, first, we’ll be in a transition period. The ridge will develop eventually, as long as model guidance isn’t totally out to lunch with the pattern progression. But first, we’ll deal with a cold front late Sunday into Monday and a few mid level perturbations early next week. Afterward, it means that we’ll likely enter a period of prolonged pleasant weather.

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Friday Forecast: East winds briefly take over

It’s finally Friday! Temperatures started out a good bit cooler today than they have the past several, with lows in the 40′s across the interior and temperatures in the low 50′s even in the city and urban areas of Northeast New Jersey. They will, of course, rise this afternoon — but not as much as the typically would. Highs will only top out in the 60′s throughout much of the area. The reason? The east winds are at it again. Low level winds will flip to easterly, an onshore flow, this morning — and put a lid on temperatures while keeping the air cool.

Forecast models are fairly adamant on the idea that there won’t be much in the way of low clouds initially, so we won’t be sitting in fog and dreary weather all day today. These clouds will likely develop mid-day near the area beaches and shores, as they almost always do when there is an onshore flow. But even where the sun is out,  it will feel quite cool — especially given the fact that temperatures were hot and humid just over a week ago. The brisk, cool weather won’t dominate the weekend, however. The winds, which flip to easterly today, will continue turning to southerly on Saturday and Sunday — ushering in warmer and slightly more humid air ahead of a frontal system.

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What if the 1821 Long Island Hurricane happened today?

The details of this storm remain fuzzy. Based on first hand accounts and somewhat spotty meteorological data, we can only know one thing — the Long Island Hurricane of 1821 was a big deal. It was one of only four known tropical cyclones to make landfall in New York City. It made landfall just several hours prior, near Cape May, New Jersey as what would now be defined a strong Category 3 Hurricane. And then, it tracked northward essentially along the Garden State Parkway, briefly back out into open water and then through New York Harbor. The storm struck at low tide, but still produced a near-30 foot storm surge along much of the New Jersey Coast, obliterating any development there and causing significant overwash past the shores.

Obviously, this storm occurred in 1821 — way, way before any major development by modern standards. Areas which were hammered with unprecedented wind, rain and storm surge from the Hurricane of 1821 now are populated by the millions — with incredible development and modernization. A new report, from the ReInsurance behemoth SwissRe, details what would happen if a storm similar to the Hurricane of 1821 occurred today. And the results are not good.

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NOAA announces Summer 2014 was warmest ever on Earth

2014 has been officially announced as the warmest summer on Earth, since records began in 1880. The newest climate report published by the National Climate Data Center at NOAA released the information today as well as other in-depth information from around the world for this summer and its individual months. In addition to the summer as a whole being the warmest on record, August 2014 was also the warmest August ever recorded on Earth, finishing 0.75 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average.

While the summer in our area was relatively average, if not cool, the ocean waters throughout the globe and different land areas worldwide led to the wildly above-average temperatures. The summer as a whole finished 0.71 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average. The ocean temperatures set a record high anomaly for all months.

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