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No Halloween Trick - The Return of the Perfect Storm?

Paul Walsh | VP, Weather Analytics, The Weather Channel
Wednesday, 24 Oct 2012 | 12:00 PM ET
Mladen Antonov | AFP | Getty Images

Just when you thought it was safe to go trick or treating.

In an almost eerie coincidence, the weather forecast for the days just before Halloween are suggesting we may experience a repeat of last year's freak Halloween storm — now forever branded as "Snowtober."

The difference this time? This storm could be much stronger.

The storm – as now being predicted by numerous computer models – is being portrayed by the models as a hybrid monster that combines hurricane strength wind and rain on its eastern flank and heavy snow on its western side.

In a rare confluence of events reminiscent of the 1991 Perfect Storm a late season hurricane is being predicted by numerous computer models to interact with a cold front approaching the east coast.

(Read More: Sandy Approaches Hurricane Strength as it Nears Jamaica)

These elements combine by early next week to create a very strong (potentially historic) storm that will impact the northeast corridor with high winds, heavy rain and coastal flooding. On the western side of the storm in western PA and NY, the precipitation and energy would interact with cold air and create a dangerous heavy snow event.

Source: The Weather Channel

In a worst case scenario, the economic (and political) impact could be huge.

With the storm hitting during the days just prior to Halloween but after the weekend, the threat of the storm will likely drive strong retail traffic across the northeast and portions of the east coast this weekend. On a comparable basis, this may actually be beneficial as the snowtober event last year had a larger weekend impact.

In this instance, if the storm continues on its current track and intensity the media coverage associated the storm will no doubt create a "storm surge" of last minute buying beginning on Friday and continuing through the weekend.

(Read More: Northern California Walloped by Early Wintry Weather)

The usual suspects will see large spikes in sales from the pre-storm media – Home Centers; Big Box Retailers; Grocery Stores – but we also may also see lifts in traffic in department stores and specialty retail as the storm will ultimately bring cooler and wetter weather and people will be inclined to stock up. Good excuse to buy fall apparel, as well as need items for the storm.

Storm Surge

  Name Price   Change %Change Volume
HD
---
LOW
---
WMT
---
TGT
---
COST
---
WFM
---
KR
---
SWY
---

Post storm could bring significant negative economic impacts related to loss of power, decreased traffic, property loss and general disruption of commerce for 1 or 2 days.

The 1991 version of the perfect storm resulted in over $200 million dollars in damages (1991 dollars) and approximately 13 deaths. Last year's Snowtober event left over 3 million people without power and caused incredible traffic and economic disruption on the weekend prior to Halloween.

(Read More: Alaska Village Short of Water as Winter Approaches)

While the jury is still out regarding the final path of "PS2", the probabilities of a major social and economic hit increase with each new run of the government weather models.

As it relates to the Presidential race, this kind of event coming just one week prior to election day, promises to throw another wrinkle (and debating point) into an already tight race.

And then there's the impact of the weather on election day … stay tuned for more on that during the days leading up to the election. You can click here for more details.

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