Westward Tracking Extratropical Cyclones: A Historical Climatology of Storms Similar to Hurricane Sandy

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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Zachary Zambreski, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; and A. T. DeGaetano

Nicknamed the “storm of the century”, Hurricane Sandy was a highly unusual storm system that developed as a tropical hurricane in the Caribbean but became an extratropical cyclone as it merged with a strong mid-latitude system moving across the northeast United States. Instead of tracking to the northeast, Sandy took a sharp left turn off New Jersey due to the presence of a negatively tilted trough and a strong upper-level ridge across the North Atlantic. The main question my research addresses is how prevalent are these extratropical cyclones in the available record of meteorological data? My research constructs a historical climatology of storms similar to Hurricane Sandy during the 20th and 21st centuries, using three different datasets at different spatial and time resolutions: the 20th Century Reanalysis dataset, the North American Regional Reanalysis dataset, and the NCEP/NCAR dataset. A python program will be modified to examine storms that take unusual tracks along the Eastern seaboard. An additional program finds the best storm matches for Sandy based on track, minimum pressure, and speed. The list of storm matches will be analyzed on a synoptic scale using surface maps and other available data. This analysis will support the assertion that both mid-latitude and tropical systems interacted at some time during the storm. The results of the previous analysis will be examined on spatial, temporal, and intensity scales to determine how the occurrences of these storms have evolved during the past century and what role global signals such as the NOA and ENSO play in their development.