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Not a trick or a treat: Hurricane Sandy could hit as monster hybrid storm

Hurricane Sandy, currently a category 2 storm, is taking aim at the Northeast in the days before Halloween. Forecasters say it could cause widespread power outages and dangerous flooding.

By Ron SchererStaff writer / October 25, 2012

Residents wade through a flooded street caused by heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 25. Hurricane Sandy rumbled across mountainous eastern Cuba and headed toward the Bahamas on Thursday as a Category 2 storm, bringing heavy rains and blistering winds.

Dieu Nalio Chery/AP

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New York

Hurricane Sandy, currently a dangerous category 2 storm with sustained winds of 105 miles per hour moving north through the Bahamas, could impact the Northeast and even New England early next week, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Thursday afternoon.

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By the time Sandy gets to the Northeast in the days before Halloween, forecasters think it will have morphed into a monster hybrid storm hundreds of miles wide, a combination of Nor’easter and hurricane, packing sustained winds of 50 mile per hour and pushing a storm surge into low-lying areas.

Government weather forecasters say the probability cone for the storm’s path over the next five days shows Sandy approaching the East Coast from North Carolina on Monday to Portsmouth, N.H., on Tuesday. Although the center of the forecast cone is just south of New York City, it does not mean that is where it will come ashore.

The storm, whose high winds and heavy rains could last for days, could cause widespread power outages and dangerous flooding. By this weekend meteorologists will have more information, and some communities may have to contemplate evacuations, especially along the coastline.

“This storm is dangerous,” says Bryan Norcross, a hurricane specialist at the Weather Channel. “If it comes to pass like the consensus forecast, it will be unprecedented, we have never seen anything that looks like this.”

Mr. Norcross says from a meteorological standpoint Sandy will begin to look like the 1991 “perfect storm” that raked the East Coast with high tides and strong wind, leaving 13 people dead in its wake.

That storm, a combination of hurricane Grace and a massive Nor’easter, derived yet more energy from the jet stream, a river of air that controls weather patterns.

“This combination all coming together is not seen very often,” says Norcross. “It takes just the right configuration in the atmosphere for it all to come together.”

Many different meteorological parts still have to fall into place for Sandy to develop into the type of storm described by Norcross.

For example, an upper level low pressure system will have to move from the Pacific Ocean to the East Coast in three or four days. This low will draw Sandy in from the Atlantic toward the coastline.

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