A wrecking ball of a winter storm is about to bust up the recent hot weather with a fury that meteorologists predict could bring up to 15-foot seas to Palm Beach County’s coastline and send life-threatening flooding into the Northeast.
A low pressure system, whose strength was still in debate just days ago, is now expected to undergo an explosive strengthening as it harasses states from Virginia to Maine with peak wind gusts of hurricane force possible along the coast. The forecast drop in atmospheric pressure of at least 24 millibars in 24 hours or less is called bombogenesis.
In South Florida, the National Weather Service is warning of coastal flooding, powerful rip currents, high seas and beach erosion building into Sunday through mid-week.
The highest seas along Palm Beach County’s coast are expected Sunday night at between 12-15 feet.
“With the marine and coastal concerns this weekend, and next week, we will be providing a daily briefing through at least the weekend, and possibly into the beginning of the week,” said Steven Ippoliti, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “The main concerns are hazardous seas and beach erosion. Also, relative humidity may impact some of those with fire weather concerns, as the RH may drop into the 20s.”
In Massachusetts, voluntary evacuations of some coastal communities during high tides have been recommended with forecasters in the Boston office of the National Weather Service calling the advancing storm a “life and death” situation.
“Exacerbating the event will be the highest tides of the month — more than a foot above average, associated with the full moon,” said Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Masters in his Cat 6 blog. “The Northeast U.S. will receive a punishing assault from a large storm surge and high waves that will last through three high tide cycles.”
For South Florida, the storm will punch through a cold front Friday, dropping temperatures from a Thursday high of 85 to a forecast high Saturday of 75. Sunday morning temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to high-50s along the coast, with inland areas dipping into the 40s.
The cold weather will be an abrupt change to February, which ended with an average temperature in West Palm Beach of 75.3 degrees, breaking a 59-year old record of 74.4 set in 1959.
“I’m still peeling from two crazy sunburns that I got last month. It was hot,” said Grace Kalinsky, who recently moved to West Palm Beach and was enjoying the sun Thursday at City Place. “But I’m from Connecticut so everything feels hot and humid here.”