Tracking hurricane Sandy: As storm 'zigs,' it's also changing dramatically
Hurricane Sandy has lurched westward as it heads toward landfall late Monday. It's also swapping energy sources as it becomes extratropical. The process sometimes gives storms a boost of power.
In Pictures Sandy: Chronicle of an unrelenting storm
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Even as it makes a left turn to head toward the coast, it also is swapping energy sources to become an extratropical cyclone.
"But to have it occur over the western Atlantic and then to recurve inland with such a major effect is extraordinary," Dr. Mass adds.
The shift from tropical to extratropical tends to intensify the storm for a period, as well as redistribute winds and rainfall in ways that can shift the regions most heavily affected by wind and rain.
Indeed the hurricane's vast size – tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 420 nautical miles from Sandy's center – has prompted federal officials to warn people not to focus on where the storm makes landfall because the areas affected by coastal surges, heavy rains, and high wind remain extensive.
Indeed, the full range of winds associated with Sandy spans a diameter of more than 1,000 miles.
Sandy intensified slightly Monday morning as it passed over a sliver of warm water associated with the Gulf Stream. Atmospheric pressure at the center of Sandy – a key measure of the storm's strength – has hit a low of 27.85 inches, or 943 millibars. If Sandy retains that reading, or it drops further, at landfall, the location would go into the record books as experiencing the lowest barometric pressure of any spot in the US north of Cape Hatteras, according to data compiled by the Weather Underground.