Is a "mega-storm" bigger than a hurricane? Perhaps... Sandy is shaping up to be "historic", so us political geeks should pay attention to what the weather nerds are saying.

There is a consensus forming in weather forecast models that hurricane Sandy is unlikely to go out to sea. Instead, it more likely will merge with a strong fall cold front and transition into a powerhouse, possibly historic mid-latitude storm along the mid-Atlantic and/or Northeast coast Sunday through Wednesday. ...

As a hurricane transitions into a mid-latitude weather system, the storm's core tends to unwind. This means the most extreme winds around the storm's center diminish some, but very strong winds spread out over a larger distance, affecting a much broader region. In other words, sustained winds above tropical storm force (39 mph) will be possible for locations well-displaced from the storm's center, meaning a high power outage risk.

Severe inland flooding is another possibility. But again, it's impossible to pinpoint if/where this will occur. Recall that the inland flooding - as opposed to wind or storm surge - was the greatest cause of death and economic damage during hurricane Irene in 2011 bringing torrents to upstate New York and Vermont.

Finally, snow may be an issue at high elevation in the interior mid-Atlantic and Northeast as cold air pours down on the storm's west and southwest flank. Some models suggest over a foot of heavy, wet snow could fall in places like western Maryland and central and western Pennsylvania. This amount of snow on top of existing foliage could result in tremendous tree damage and power outages.

Significant infrastructure damage and other storm-related inconvenience could reduce voter turnout in the North-East.

  1. If more enthusiastic Republican voters turn out even more heavily than projected this will help Romney in New Hampshire and at least one of Maine's non-winner-takes-all districts.
  2. Depressed turnout in the North-East will increase the likelihood that Obama wins the electoral vote but not the popular vote.
  3. Storm damage will give Obama the opportunity to look "Presidential" right before the election.
  4. If the storm reaches natural disaster proportions the campaigns will need to re-calibrate their attacks on each other.

And of course if you live in the affected area you should be making preparations!

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