Jay Tanski, New York Sea Grant, 631.632.8730.
STONY BROOK, NY, November 23, 2009 - In mid-November, the east coast was hammered with rain and blustery winds, remnants of Hurricane Ida. After the hurricane made landfall in Alabama, it was downgraded to a tropical depression. But just how is this kind of storm classified when it causes an all day soaker in New York?
According to New York Sea Grant's coastal processes specialist Jay Tanski at Stony Brook University and Dr. Arthur DeGaetano, Director of NOAA's Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) at Cornell University, the storm was consistent with a nor’easter, a winter storm that typically moves from southwest to northeast along the U.S. east coast. Nor'easters, also known as East Coast Winter Storms (ECWS), have a major impact on coastal communities in New York and actually cause more damage than hurricanes due to their frequency and duration.
With funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Office, DeGaetano and Tanski have developed a new internet tool, the East Coast Winter Storm Climatological and Forecasting Data Web site, http://nywinterstorm.org, housed at Cornell University’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. The site is designed to help coastal managers and emergency personnel better prepare for and respond to these storm events. The site provides seasonal forecasts, climatological data and real time data on winter storms. The Web site’s unique analogue storm feature also allows users to compare a current storm (like Ida) with the most similar historic storm chosen from a database of 700 storms. Once a suitable match is made, it provides users with the storm surge data associated with that historic storm--data that can help predict where and when flooding is likely to occur with the current storm.
With funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Office, DeGaetano and Tanski recently held a workshop at the Remote Sensing Computer Lab at Stony Brook University introducing the new ECWS Web site to state and federal coastal managers and emergency personnel as they gear up for the 2009-2010 winter season. Says DeGaetano, “NRCC forecasts indicate that ECWS activity this winter will be higher than normal in both number and strength of storms.”
New York Sea Grant (NYSG) is a statewide network of integrated research, education, and extension services promoting the wise use and protection of marine and Great Lakes resources. NYSG, a cooperative program of the State University of New York (SUNY), Cornell University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is currently in its 38th year of "Bringing Science to the Shore.”