For the last 24-36 hours I’ve been thinking of Paul Revere’s midnight ride when he alerted the Colonial militia of the advancing British forces by riding his horse through the Massachusetts countryside and shouting, “The British are coming! The British are coming!”* Because, like the expected massing and advancement of the British forces, once again we’re seeing the early tell-tale signs of yet another nor’easter weather system that will, as is typical for such a storm, bear down on the coast of the Northeast. That’s right: another nor’easter following on the heels of last week’s nor’easter which in turn followed quickly on the heels of Superstorm Sandy.
The question however, has been a difficult one: when is the data strong enough and reliable enough to hang the lantern(s) in the steeple, which would then send Revere on his history-making ride? Today it’s not the British amassing, of course, but on the heels of two already-major storm systems that have hammered the Northeast, any meteorologist sending out the warning of yet another major storm had best be as sure as possible that a storm is likely.
Here’s what we know: By the beginning of next week, a low pressure area is likely to form off the coast of the Carolinas then move northward while remaining offshore. Should this occur, another round of locally heavy rain and gusty coastal winds could impact these regions from late Sunday through early Thursday. Two of our most reliable numerical computer models, the American GFS and the European ECMWF, have been hinting at a developing nor’easter-style storm system for the past couple of days, and have now shown enough run-to-run consistency for us to at least begin taking the combining elements seriously. ImpactWeather’s StormWatch Manager Mike Venske: “There are notable timing differences between those two global models, but both indicate a weaker system than the previous storm with strongest winds confined to the immediate coast and snow confined to favored terrain from PA and NY up into New England.” It was the ECMWF that gave such an accurate 10-day forecast on what would eventually become Superstorm Sandy.
For now, we’re confident enough to begin climbing into the steeple and begin getting the word out of the potential storm system. However, confidence in the specific factors of when, how much and where remain low. We’ll continue to monitor this developing system.
* Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, as they say, but Mr. Revere’s mission was one of secrecy and he did not shout the famous phrase, “The British are coming!” as he galloped through the countryside that was filled with British army patrols. Eyewitnesses report the phrase was, “The Regulars are coming out,” in reference to the Regular Army.