Northwest Flow Snow Aspects of Hurricane Sandy
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Northwest Flow Snow Aspects of Hurricane Sandy

  • Published Date:

    2016

  • Source:
    Weather and Forecasting, 31(1), 173-195.
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Northwest Flow Snow Aspects of Hurricane Sandy
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  • Description:
    In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy tracked along the eastern U.S. coastline and made landfall over New Jersey after turning sharply northwest and becoming posttropical while interacting with a complex upper-level low pressure system that had brought cold air into the Appalachian region. The cold air, intensified by the extreme low pressure tracking just north of the region, combined with deep moisture and topographically enhanced ascent to produce an unusual and high-impact early season northwest flow snow (NWFS) that has no analog in recent history. This paper investigates the importance of the synoptic-scale pattern, forcing mechanisms, moisture characteristics (content, depth, and likely sources), and low-level winds, as well as the evolution of some of these features compared to more typical NWFS events in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Several other aspects of the Sandy snowfall event are investigated, including low-level stability and mountain wave formation as manifested in vertical profiles and radar observations. The importance to operational forecasters of recognizing and understanding these factors and differences from more common NWFS events is also discussed.
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