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.
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“The meteorological mechanism for all this to happen is still out in the Pacific Ocean, and that is a long way to come and a lot can happen,” cautions James Aman, senior meteorologist at Earthworks, the parent company of the WeatherBug in Germantown, Md.Skip to next paragraph
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That’s one reason why the NHC is still telling people living in the East not to head for higher ground just yet.
“People in the Northeast and New England should pay attention,” says Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the NHC. “You might want to stock some supplies in case the power goes out and be aware of your situation.”
What especially concerns Norcross and other forecasters is that as the storm moves up the coast it may take a left-turn to come onshore. This would result in a storm surge that could pile water up along seaside communities.
It won’t help that the storm will be arriving during the full moon, when high tides can run a foot higher than normal.
On Thursday, the Ocean Prediction Center, a government agency, predicted the storm surge from central New Jersey south to around Ocean City, Md. would be 2 feet to 3 feet. From mid-New Jersey to Martha’s Vineyard, including Long Island Sound, the surge is predicted at 1 to 2 feet. The Massachusetts coast north to Portland, Maine, would see a 6-inch storm surge.
The storm will also be carrying a lot of rain with it. Government forecasts predict 3 inches to 5 inches of rain from New Jersey to the Catskills.
“One nice thing is that we have not had a lot of rain recently, so the ground is not saturated,” says Mr. Aman, “But there will be a good portion that will run off, and the rivers and streams will rise.”
Feltgen says his worry is that trees are still carrying a lot of leaves. This might make them more susceptible to being knocked down in high winds. As the trees fall they can bring down power lines. “I think for people, the first concern is what to do if my power is out for a week,” he says.
Last Halloween, a freak snow storm knocked down thousands of trees. Many residents along the East Coast were without power for a week or more.
Another problem for the East is that by the time the storm arrives off the New Jersey coast, the wind field will be massive. The diameter of the storm could be 700 to 800 miles.
“We could have a very long duration wind event, even in Massachusetts,” says Norcross. “The wind is going to blow for the entire week.”