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Yet another meteorological bomb

Forecast for evening on Mar 26, 2014, showing deep low-pressure system approaching the Canadian Maritimes.
Forecast for evening on Mar 26, 2014, showing deep low-pressure system approaching the Canadian Maritimes.

Another in a spate of East Coast meteorological bombs is occurring this Wednesday morning (Mar. 26, 2014). The storm, located off the North Carolina Outer Banks late last evening, was racing northeastward toward the Canadian Maritimes, where it was expected to arrive by late tonight. As with all “bombs,” the central pressure in the storm is expected to drop at a rate of 24 millibars (a millibar is equal to about 0.03 inches of mercury) in 24 hours. This storm is already exhibiting pressure drops of 10 millibars in 6 hours (equivalent to a 40 millibar drop in 24 hours. The actual forecast calls for the pressure to possibly decline even more precipitously, approaching the equivalent of a 50 millibar drop in 24 hours.

Fortunately for many winter-weary residents along the East Coast, the storm track is far enough offshore that only parts of extreme southeastern New England will face the threat of any significant snowfall. However, winds from New England into the Mid-Atlantic will be strong and gusty today. New England will experience the highest winds, possibly reaching 50 miles per hour in gusts. Along the immediate coast and on Cape Cod and nearby islands, forecasts call for gusts to reach 70 miles per hour.

Wind and snow will combine to produce blizzard conditions in extreme southeastern Massachusetts.

Offshore, winds and waves will be problematical for mariners. Seas are expected to be rough, with waves approaching 50 feet in and near the storm center; winds will likely reach hurricane force along the immediate storm track.

Since the storm will act a lot like a hurricane, even though it is a winter-type storm (also known as extra-tropical), satellite images will likely show an eye-like structure by late afternoon. The 1979 President’s Day Snowstorm exhibited such a feature.

In the wake of the storm, cold air was filtering deep into the South. Freeze warnings were posted for this morning from Mississippi to South Carolina. Freezing temperatures will reach almost to the Gulf Coast.

Over much of the eastern half of the U.S. temperatures will be some 15 to 25 degrees below seasonal average today. Even with a warm-up later this week, long-range forecasts call for continued chilly and wet weather over much of the east into early April. It looks like the “polar vortex” isn’t going away anytime soon.

© 2014 H. Michael Mogil

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