Historic Nor'easter pounds Mid-Atlantic coast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 03:55 PM GMT die 12o November, anno 2009

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A historic Nor'easter, energized by the remains of Hurricane Ida, is pounding the coast form North Carolina to New Jersey with heavy rain, tropical storm-force winds, and a destructive storm surge. Wind gusts of 64 mph were reported at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and at Cape Henry, VA this morning. The high winds, combined with the slow movement of the Nor'easter are acting to push near-record storm surges onto the coast in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. At Norfolk, Virginia, the storm surge from Ida-ex was 5.0 feet at 10 am EST, the third highest storm surge there since tide gauge records began in 1927. Only Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and the Chesapeake-Atlantic Hurricane of 1933 have brought higher storm surges to Norfolk. Serious coastal flooding is occurring from northern North Carolina to the Delaware/New Jersey border, and the storm surge at Lewes Point, Delaware at 10 am this morning was 4.0 feet, just below the record high of 4.17' set during the January 4, 1992 Nor'easter. Tide records go back to 1919 at Lewes Point.


Figure 1. The Ida-ex Nor'easter at 9:31 am EST 11/12/09. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

The highest storm surges on record at the Sewell's Point tide gauge in Norfolk, Virginia are:

5.62' Sep 2003 Hurricane Isabel
5.61' Aug 1933 Chesapeake-Atlantic Hurricane
5.00' Nov 2009 Ida-ex
4.73' Sep 1933 Hurricane 13, Cat 1
4.66' Mar 1962 Ash Wednesday Nor'easter
4.05' Sep 1936 Hurricane 13, Cat 2

And the highest water levels, measured above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW, the lowest tide measured in a full 19-year natural tidal cycle):

1933 hurricane (Aug 23rd 1933)..............8.9 feet MLLW
April 11th 1956 Nor'easter..................8.0 feet MLLW
Hurricane Isabel (Sep 18th 2003)............7.9 feet MLLW
Ash Wednesday storm (Mar 7th 1962)..........7.8 feet MLLW

The water level during high tide this morning at 5 am EST reached 6.7' MLLW in Norfolk at Sewell's Point, but the storm surge of Ida-ex has increased by a full foot since then. The next high tide at 5 pm may see water levels near 8.2 feet. The tremendous amount of rain Ida-ex is dumping over the coast is adding to the storm surge, since the drainage of the rivers into the coastal bays raises the water level above what the wind pushes in.


Figure 2. Predicted storm tide (height above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW, the lowest tide measured in a full 19-year natural tidal cycle, black line) for Sewell's Point, Virgina in Norfolk, as predicted by the GFS model. A storm tide of 8.0 feet is forecast this afternoon during the 5 pm EST high tide. For a full description of this plot, see the NOAA Extratropical Surge web site.


Figure 3. Tide gauge trace from the Sewell's Point gauge in Norfolk, VA, shows a storm surge of 5 feet (green line) at 10 am EST, and a maximum tide of 6.7 feet above MLLW so far today. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.


Figure 4. Radar-estimated rainfall from the Norfolk radar shows a large area of 4 - 5 inches of rainfall over coastal Virginia and North Carolina. The band of very high rainfall amounts of 5 - 8 inches shown in the northeast part of the radar display is not real; rainfall amounts in that region have been closer to 2 - 4 inches. The error results because at that distance from the radar, the beam is about 8,000 feet above the ground, and is hitting a "bright band" of highly reflective precipitation, where snow is melting and forming rain. The highly reflective rain/snow area reflects much more of the radar beam back, making the software algorithm used to estimate precipitation amounts fail.

You can follow the storm today with our Severe Weather Page.

Jeff Masters

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What makes this storm even more damaging is the slow movement.The high sitting ontop of us here in New England is holding Ida-ex at bay,so its just sitting there waiting for the high to move up into the maritimes which won't happen until tomorrow.
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30. P451
Quoting lawntonlookers:
451

Where were you at on the Jersey Coast?


Long Branch, NJ. I'm about 7 miles inland.


Meanwhile, a 48 hour IR loop of Ida. Look at her bomb at the end of the loop. Yikes.



This probably will go down as historic in the end. It's still strengthening.

Does it rival the Perfect Storm, or the 93 Superstorm, or the Dec 92 Storm, or the 96 (98?) Blizzard? Well, I don't know if it reaches those levels but it's a very strong storm in it's own right. It will be remembered.

Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

Not immediately (want to remind us?) :)
5 years ago big twin snowstorms, Presidents' Day Storms.


Ahh the 2003 Presidents Day Blizzard, I remember tracking that one in Highschool. The 2007 Nor'easter had a low pressure of 969 mlb. (9 milibars higher then the 1993 Superstorm). It was hyped to be about the strongest storm since the Superstorm of 1993. The Virginia Tech attacks occured that day as well.
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Quoting P451:


I wonder, again, if this is a portender of things to come this winter. We've already had a couple of systems - that if winter - we'd be digging out big time up here from them. This is the fourth bad erosion even for the beaches since August concluded. They're decimated up here.


Good call on this one P451. You and reed did a good job as did a few others.
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nice update doc thanks
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Accuweathers take on the storm...

A powerful nor'easter, formerly Hurricane Ida will continue to pound the mid-Atlantic coast with high winds, flooding and beach erosion into the end of the week as predicted by AccuWeather.com.
Damage from the storm could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars before the storm accelerates to the northeast this weekend.
AccuWeather.com Expert Meteorologist Joe Bastardi is worried that it could be the worst storm for the area since the remnants of Ernesto struck in 2006.
The worst conditions are focusing on the southern Delmarva Peninsula to northeastern North Carolina with the Virginia Tidewater right in the middle.
Powerful onshore winds and flooding are the biggest risks to life and property. As of Thursday morning, 24,000 homes and businesses were without power in Virginia.
A state of emergency has been declared for Virginia by Gov. Timothy Kaine.
Wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph continue to knock down trees and power lines.
The winds are also creating a storm surge of 5 to 7 feet.
Water and sand are invading shoreline communities.
The storm has forced schools and businesses to close.
In some locations severe beach erosion can undermine homes, businesses and roadways.
The high winds have forced vehicular restrictions on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Travel is not permitted at this time for most high-profile vehicles.
Waves along the coast have been ranging from 15 to 20 feet with some offshore monsters over 30 feet. Small craft should remain in port as a result, shipping interests are advised to avoid the area or remain in more hospitable waters.
Coastal flooding will not be confined to the ocean's coastline. Above-normal tides can lead to minor problems even in Baltimore and New York City due to water buildup on the back bays and harbors.
The storm will roll out to the northeast Friday into Saturday. That means a period of building winds, seas and above-normal tides are in store for areas from northern New Jersey, New York and southern New England.
While significant problems and damage can occur in these areas, the conditions should be less severe than that of the events taking place around the Virginia Capes.
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Quoting reedzone:
You all remember the April Nor'easter in 2007?

Not immediately (want to remind us?) :)
5 years ago big twin snowstorms, Presidents' Day Storms.
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Conditions at CBBV2 as of
(10:54 am EST)

Wind Direction (WDIR): NNE ( 20 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 45.1 kts
Wind Gust (GST): 49.9 kts
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.65 in
Air Temperature (ATMP): 56.1 °F
Water Temperature (WTMP): 62.4 °F
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451

Where were you at on the Jersey Coast?
Member Since: March 22, 2006 Posts: 9 Comments: 1570
You all remember the April Nor'easter in 2007?
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Thanks for the update Dr. Masters. The northern clouds from the storm just moved over central PA this morning.
Member Since: March 22, 2006 Posts: 9 Comments: 1570
Well to the people of Virginia Beach it like a perfect storm to them!
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Quoting P451:


A number of us talked about the potential for all of this to come together when Ida was landfalling in Central America and got harassed for it.

Well, where are those guys now? All out of one liners I guess.

Thing is, we discussed this and 2 other possible solutions to the situation. This one played out.

And there it is....





Actually I was blasted this morning, given those names.. Go back to the end of the last blog post of Masters, you'll see a blogger by the name of scbassman or something like that. I would call this storm the "Superstorm of 2009".
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18. P451
Quoting reedzone:


Nice comma shape, a well formed No'easter, imagine if it was January or February?


I wonder, again, if this is a portender of things to come this winter. We've already had a couple of systems - that if winter - we'd be digging out big time up here from them. This is the fourth bad erosion even for the beaches since August concluded. They're decimated up here.
Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
I remember somebody predicting Ida would hit New York.. Go figure.
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Quoting VAstorms:
Most schools are closed. All of our tunnels are closed. We are seeing damage equal to or greater than hurricane Isabel. Expect total storm damage to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Friends have been forced from their coastal homes.


Around here, we tease each other about being from the "other side of the river" (Potomac), issuing passports, visas, etc. (j/k-ing)
This week, though, thoughts, prayers, virtual hugs and hope to our neighbors in DelMarVa (& Jersey & the Carolinas, too).

We love our beaches! Have been to beaches all over the world (except the Far East) and always want to "come home" to ours!

Partial re-post from last blog, a little dark humor:

Does anybody from South Carolina to New Jersey feel the need to watch "Misery" on TWC Friday night?
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Thanks, Dr. Masters, but does anyone know which direction the entire system is moving?

I guess reedzone feels a little vindicated by his observations. The image Dr. Masters posted is indeed an impressive sight. It may not be the "Storm of the Century" nor the great Nor'easter of '92, but a newsmaker, nonetheless. Hope the locals heed the warnings. Very dangerous situation for a lot of people.
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Quoting reedzone:
See? I'm not a doomcaster am I? Even Dr. Masters calls this a very historic Nor'easter. This is the biggest storm in 25 years for them. "Mergeboy" "reedperfectstormzone", what a joke.


Not calling you a doomcaster, while it may be a historic nor'easter, this storm pales in comparison to the Superstorm of 1993, just 16 years ago. Living down south now, but was in Pennsylvania for that one.
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13. P451
Quoting reedzone:
See? I'm not a doomcaster am I? Even Dr. Masters calls this a very historic Nor'easter. This is the biggest storm in 25 years for them. "Mergeboy" "reedperfectstormzone", what a joke.


A number of us talked about the potential for all of this to come together when Ida was landfalling in Central America and got harassed for it.

Well, where are those guys now? All out of one liners I guess.

Thing is, we discussed this and 2 other possible solutions to the situation. This one played out.

And there it is....



Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
Quoting P451:
12 HR IR - Extratropical IDA



Nice comma shape, a well formed Nor'easter, imagine if it was January or February?
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11. P451
Quoting overthehillsurfer:
Hey P451! Very impressive flicks however where are all the crazy surfers? I don't see anyone out there. LOL


Nothing to surf. The one surf spot is further down the coast about 2 jetties but nobody is out there.

They were during Bill...but weren't really catching anything that day either.
Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
10. P451
12 HR IR - Extratropical IDA

Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
Quote above:
The band of very high rainfall amounts of 5 - 8 inches shown in the northeast part of the radar display


...I think this was meant to say NorthWEST part of the radar display.
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See? I'm not a doomcaster am I? Even Dr. Masters calls this a very historic Nor'easter. This is the biggest storm in 25 years for them. "Mergeboy" "reedperfectstormzone", what a joke.
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Hey P451! Very impressive flicks however where are all the crazy surfers? I don't see anyone out there. LOL
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It's bad here in Norfolk, I can certainly say that. Flooding is expected to be worse this evening. Winds continue to gust over 50 mph. I'm surprised I still have power.
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Most schools are closed. All of our tunnels are closed. We are seeing damage equal to or greater than hurricane Isabel. Expect total storm damage to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Friends have been forced from their coastal homes.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
IDA sould get re name has a STS


I don't know but we had a rainband go through here in central NJ that behaved just like a tropical rain band. It's cold up here though. 45 degrees.

It's certainly a hybrid system that is for certain.

What an event. Ida, absorbs 96E remnant, absorbs BOC hybrid, and bombs off the Pressolinas.

:o

Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
Good Morning.

Long Branch, NJ
10am Nov 12 - Low Tide
Where I'm standing you can see all the sand is already carved out leaving the crap exposed from underneath.
I would be underwater here at high tide.
Most waves around 6'. Bigger ones were 8-10.
It will be getting worse but I won't be going to film it.


Two videos of waves (90 seconds each)


http://tinypic.com/r/hwicdw/4


http://tinypic.com/r/10wplcz/4




One video of wind driven sand. About 30 gusting to 45.


http://tinypic.com/r/34t21yc/4


Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
wow, thanks for the update!
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Impressive!
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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