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Late October storms can be devastating

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This weekend, Minnesota had the earliest snowfall of the season since 2009. It caused more than 300 auto accidents and spinouts across the state. As the low-pressure system that caused that snowfall moved eastward, the trailing cold front joined up with the remnants of Tropical Storm Philippe causing that center of low pressure to move northward up the east coast.

sat image

Experimental product from the new GOES-16 satellite system and the National Weather Service showing the massive storm over New England the morning of October 30, 2017

By this morning, the resulting massive storm had left over one million customers without power from the northern Mid-Atlantic states into New England. Heavy rains and high winds caused flooding, downed trees, and additional accidents.

All of this happened on the weekend we observed the five-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. Sandy was a hurricane that hit the northeast coast directly, became extra-tropical, and was devastating on a larger level, being credited for 233 deaths and $75 billion in damages.

Tropical storms and hurricanes that make landfall are disastrous on their own, but when they collide and/or combine with other storm systems – such as a strong cold front – they become even more powerful. The moisture content of the tropical storms adds to the potential for extreme precipitation events, which could take the form of torrential, flooding downpours or heavy snow depending on the temperature. This weekend, residents of New England avoided the addition of the snowfall that accompanied Sandy. While those affected would probably not call themselves “lucky,” it clearly could have been worse.

I doubt we’ll see a fatality count recorded from this weekend’s system the way that we did with Superstorm Sandy, but I read there were four in Minnesota and I personally know of one here in North Carolina that can be blamed on the weather. I would not be surprised if there were more that haven’t been tallied nationally, yet. It goes without saying that those five are five too many.