Category Archives: Weather

Post-Sandy weather review

I started this post the day after Hurricane Sandy brushed past, but had forgotten about it. Perhaps it will be of interest even though it’s a bit out of date.

Here are a few pieces of information I had my hands on over the past couple of days as Sandy went by. I have a weather station and had my eyes glued to it as the storm came through.

Some weather station plots for the days prior to and just after the storm:

KMDBALTI22 weather station graphs 30 Oct 12

You can see very clearly when the storm came through by the various plots – deep “valley” in barometric pressure (new record low for my station – 961.59mB) and a peak in rain rate and wind speed. Curiously, there wasn’t a wind speed record set – it may be that we were on the “good” side of the storm, or it may be that my anemometer was malfunctioning – I replaced it a few days later.

I use Lightsoft Weather Center (LWC) software; unfortunately the developer got very ill and no longer supports the software. It still works fairly well, but I may need to replace it as it ages.

GRIB weather data (as presented on MacENC)

I don’t know much about GRIBs, and my area of interest in weather data is usually much smaller  than their resolution provides, but with the size of Sandy it really shows a good overview of the forecast conditions.

And below is some history for comparison: a few scans of old weatherfax sheets from a ship I was aboard in the mid-1990s in Alaskan waters. We frequently had strong non-tropical storms. Sandy’s lowest pressure was 943 mB; the lowest I recorded during Sandy was 961.59 mB.

Here’s a wicked looking 964 mB low from October 1995 (I think – may have been 1994?)

And here’s a 946 from December 1995(?)

This may have been the one where we holed up in Lost Harbor, Akun Island near Akutan Harbor and anchored in a sheltered bay where we saw sustained 80-knot winds. These storms are very different than hurricanes – “cold core” vs “warm core” and tend to come through in “trains” across the North Pacific.

Yesterday (Sunday, 28 October 12) I went for a pre-Sandy bike ride  around the Inner Harbor of Baltimore to check out the storm preparations. I saw sandbag stations in Canton and Fells point, and at Ft. McHenry (which is closed for the next two days) I saw that the Park Service and Army Corps of Engineers had moved their government vehicles (and a couple of survey boats on trailers) to the highest point of the park, near the main entrance.

JAMES RANKIN sails past Ft. McHenry

While riding on the trail at the far eastern part of the park (there’s a beautiful vista of the harbor toward the Key Bridge there) I saw a USCG buoy tender heading inbound on the Ft. McHenry range.Once I got home I checked my AIS display and saw she was the JAMES RANKIN and had tied up over in Fells Point; the CHOCK was near Harborview.

USCG cutters in Baltimore Harbor

I assume these guys are sheltering from the weather, and pre-positioning so as to be able to quickly head out after the storm to check and reset any AtoN knocked off station.

I also saw the large cruise ship CARNIVAL PRIDE at Locust Point and smaller AMERICAN STAR in the Inner Harbor taking shelter. CARNIVAL PRIDE has since shifted to anchorage off of Annapolis. Otherwise it’s pretty quiet in Baltimore Harbor and appears it will be for another day at least.