Wet, windy Nor'easter slams Northeast; season's first Category 5 storm is Ului
An extremely wet and windy Nor'easter whipped through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. over the weekend, dropping rains in excess of six inches over some regions, and driving high winds gusting near hurricane force. On Saturday afternoon, JFK Airport in New York City recorded sustained winds of 45 mph, gusting to hurricane force--75 mph. Soils already saturated from run-off due to all the melting snow from the heavy winter snows have been unable to absorb the heavy rains. As a result, there is widespread minor to moderate river flooding, and many power poles have toppled due to the high winds and wet soil. Over half a million people were without power in the region over the weekend. The Nor'easter will continue to bring strong winds and moderate rain to the region today, then gradually weaken and move away from the Northeast on Tuesday.
Figure 1. Estimated precipitation from the weekend Nor'easter over the Northeast. Rainfall amounts in excess of six inches (pink colors) occurred in New York and Connecticut.
Ului: first Category 5 storm of the year
The first Category 5 tropical cyclone of the year has arrived. Over the weekend, Tropical Cyclone Uliu intensified into a lower-end Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds in the open waters of the South Pacific, east of Australia. Ului has weakened slightly into a still-powerful Category 4 storm with 150 mph, but is projected to significantly decay as the week progresses, due to high wind shear. Some of the models foresee that Ului will be a long-range threat to the Queensland coast of Australia by the end of the week, but the storm should be in a much weakened state by then, and may also turn out to sea without hitting land. Australia has had a remarkably easy hurricane season so far--no tropical cyclones entered Australian waters during the month of February, the first time that has happened since 1944. That would be equivalent to the U.S. having no tropical storms near our coast in the hurricane-prone month of August.
Figure 1. Tropical Cyclone Ului at peak strength at 22:22 UTC Saturday, March 13. At the time, Ului was a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds and a minimum pressure of 918 mb. Image credit: NRL Monterey.
Tropical Cyclone Tomas
Meanwhile, Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Tomas is causing trouble in the Fiji Islands, where the cyclone's 125-mph sustained winds are being felt in the less populated eastern islands. Tomas has already claimed one life, ripped off roofs, and caused extensive power outages in the Fiji Islands, according to news reports. However, the cyclone is missing the two largest and most populated islands.
I'll have a new post on Tuesday.