By Peter Collins Brown, the Bedford Citizen’s weatherman
Yes, you heard it correctly on television and radio—Bedford could be facing its worst storm in nearly 60 years. Thousands of forecasters from Maine to Jamaica have been closely monitoring Hurricane Sandy’s path over the past few days. Hundreds of forecasting models have been run showing a myriad of possibilities concerning the eventual path of the storm. We have heard so many “worst-case” scenarios before; however, this time around, those scenarios are looking more likely. What will the weather be like in Bedford during this storm? Are there any storms analogous to Sandy that we can look back upon to be better prepared? The answers to these questions are quite surprising.
The idea that Sandy could be one of the worst storms to affect Bedford and the rest of southern New England in decades is not a stretch. As of Thursday evening, the storm that will eventually be ours is a Category 2 hurricane with 105-mph winds. Sandy is expected to move to the east of North Carolina by Saturday morning. Sounds like another storm passing out to sea—not so fast! The weather pattern next week over the U.S. and the northern Atlantic is extremely complex. We all have heard of high pressure systems—the systems that bring us clear, calm weather. While some areas experience great weather under high pressure, other locales adjacent to the system can have weather that is quite the opposite. Bedford will be one of those adjacent locales next week. High pressure centers sometimes stall over the middle of continents and oceans. When this occurs, the atmosphere experiences a “traffic jam.” Large storms, or low pressure centers, can form on either side of this high pressure system. This is the pattern that will dominate our weather in Bedford next week. As Sandy tries to move eastward, she will run into this fair-weather center over the Atlantic and back in to the northeastern coastline Tuesday morning. Sandy’s effects, however, will begin to be felt Monday morning—well ahead of her landfall.
Have we ever experienced a storm like this around Bedford? Remember the “Perfect Storm” of Halloween, 1991? Sandy will likely transition into a storm like this as she combines with a strong storm coming out of the Great Lakes; but, this time around, the storm’s center will be nearly on top of us. The storm’s intensity coupled with its strange path has led many meteorologists to say that there really aren’t any storms analogous to Sandy.
Right now, the center of the storm is forecast to come ashore between New York City and New Haven. This means the heaviest rain will be to the south and west of the center; however, we may see some of the worst winds, since Bedford lies on the northeast side of the storm.Although Sandy will be similar to the Perfect Storm, her effects will be felt well inland unlike the 1991 maelstrom. Sandy will also be slow to move—the block over the Atlantic ensures that she will be with us well into Wednesday!
So, a “perfect storm” could be heading our way. What can Bedfordites do to prepare? Make sure any loose, outdoor furniture is brought indoors. We could see sustained, high winds for a long duration from Monday night into Tuesday afternoon; you don’t want anything left outside that isn’t firmly anchored to the ground or house. If you are fortunate enough to have a generator, make certain it is in good working order. As always, don’t use any candles to light rooms; and make sure you have flashlights that have new batteries in them.
Bedfordites and New Englanders, in general, are accustomed to adverse weather from nor’easters and hurricanes. Bad ones have struck us before, and they will continue to do so from time to time. Just remember, we’ve done this before—there is no need to panic due to the hype from television personalities.Well-informed citizens are the best-prepared citizens! The worst scenario to prepare for could be disappointed kids who want to trick-or-treat Wednesday evening—it could still be raining!