Hurricane Sandy liveblog: What to expect Saturday night and Sunday (+video)

Hurricane Sandy is projected to hit the Atlantic Coast early Tuesday. Prior forecasts still hold, with high wind watches and warnings in effect and significant storm surges expected.

By , Staff writer

Saturday Oct. 27 6:30 p.m.

As Hurricane Sandy moves inexorably toward the United States, here’s what to expect tonight and Sunday.

Prior forecasts still hold, according to the National Weather Service’s hurricane center, with high wind watches and warning in effect and significant storm surges expected.

Recommended: Hurricane preparedness: 5 things you can do to keep safe

As of 5:00 p.m. eastern daylight time Saturday, the storm was located at 30.2 degrees north latitude and 75.2 degrees west longitude, putting it about 335 miles ESE of Charleston, S.C. and about 345 miles south of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Sandy’s maximum sustained winds blew at 75 mph, and it was moving along its track at 13 mph.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for South Santee River, S.C to Duck, N.C. as well as the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. A tropical storm watch is in effect from the Savannah River to the South Santee River. In addition, high wind warnings are in effect for portions of southeastern Virginia. High wind watches are in effect for much of the Mid-Atlantic states and southern New England

Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach warning areas in the Carolinas within the next few hours, spreading northward tonight and Sunday. Gale force winds are expected to arrive along portions of the Mid-Atlantic coast by late Sunday or Sunday night and reach Long Island and southern New England by Monday morning. Winds to near-hurricane force could reach the Mid-Atlantic states, including Long Island, by late Monday.

Rainfall totals of 3-6 inches are expected over far eastern North Carolina with isolated maximum totals of 8 inches possible. Rainfall amounts of 4-8 inches are expected over portions of the Mid-Atlantic states, including the Del-Mar-Va peninsula, with isolate maximum amounts of 12 inches possible. Rainfall amounts of 1-3 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 5 inches are possible across parts of southern New York into New England.

Dangerous surf conditions will continue from Florida through the Carolinas for the next couple of days and spread in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states by Sunday.

“Our latest projected path takes the center of Sandy into the Northeast coast between Long Island and the Del-Mar-Va Peninsula,” reports the Weather Channel. “However, it is very important to not focus on the center of our projected path map since the major impacts will extend across a wide area well away from where Sandy's center eventually moves inland. The impacts will range from widespread destructive winds, heavy rainfall and storm surge flooding to even heavy, wet snow.”

Saturday Oct. 27 3:40 p.m.

Hurricane Sandy threatens people and pets across much of the country.  Mother Nature Network suggests these days to keep you pets safe during emergencies (courtesy of CNN).

When disaster strikes, you must be your own first responder. The right tools and the right plan can make a big difference. Here are 10 tips to help kick-start your emergency plans.

1. Create an emergency contact list. Start with friends or family members who live nearby and can reach you or your pets quickly. Make sure they have keys, necessary codes or other information to access your home, grab the pets and evacuate.

2. Make an emergency kit. Fill a backpack with at least two weeks' worth of food for your pets and plan for at least a gallon of water per day, per pet. If your animal eats wet food, then it will consume less water.

3. Try camping, or at least learn a few skills. If you lack that wilderness gene, stop by an outdoor shop for primers on purifying water or other survival skills. While you are there, stock up on a few tools, plates and a utility knife.

4. Practice makes perfect. Take a weekend and rehearse your emergency evacuation plan. It should include finding alternate exit routes for your neighborhood, just in case a downed tree or other issue creates an obstacle.

5. Sign up for a FEMA certification course or join your county emergency response team. It's one way to guarantee that you have first-hand info.

6. Invest in sturdy pet carriers. Whether your pet goes to a relative or an emergency shelter, it needs a safe place to stay, says Toni McNulty, team lead for animals in disaster with HumanityRoad.org (@Redcrossdog on Twitter), a nonprofit organization that uses social media to fill the communications gap between those affected by disaster and those responding to disaster. Try a collapsible crate that is large enough to hold food and water bowls, and allows your pet to stand and turn around. "Get it ahead of time and let your pet get used to it. Mark with contact information. If your pet winds up in an emergency shelter, that contact information is necessary." It also helps to include a few favorite toys or bedding.

7. Stock the basics in an emergency bag. Be sure to include a leash (for dogs and cats), a collar with identification information, a harness and a muzzle, even if your pet is the sweetest in the land. "If an animal rescue person tries to pick up your pet, you don't want your pet biting," McNulty says. "Pets pick up stress, just like people in an emergency, and they can behave in a way that they normally don't."

8. Carry copies of documentation. Grab a waterproof container and use it to hold copies of your pet's vital information, McNulty says. The container should hold pictures of your pet, as well as a list of medications, allergies, vaccination records, a rabies certificate, and disaster contacts – inside and outside of the disaster area.

9. Carry photos that show you with your pet. To alleviate any confusion when it's time to recover your pet from an emergency facility, be sure to carry photos that show you and your pet together. McNulty says to attach those photos as proof of ownership on your pet's crate.

10. Don't wait for the second or third warning. If you live in an area that's known for weather emergencies, act as soon as you hear a warning, McNulty says. "When pets sense urgency, they hide and you lose valuable time trying to find them," she says. Keep leashes, collars and crates ready at a moment's notice, particularly if you live in a mobile home or vulnerable structure.

Saturday Oct. 27 2:03 p.m.

A leading US conservation groups posts this caution with useful links:

As Hurricane Sandy takes aim at the east coast, American Rivers is urging people to take precautions recommended by FEMA and the Red Cross. 

American Rivers offers the following links to flood safety and flood management resources:

The latest Hurricane Sandy advisories from NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov/stormcentral/

FEMA flood safety: http://www.ready.gov/floods

Red Cross: Preparedness and disaster relief: http://www.redcross.org

Protecting communities from flood damage: http://www.americanrivers.org/initiatives/floods/

If you live in the path of the hurricane, take action to protect your home and loved ones. To prepare for a flood, FEMA urges people to prepare an emergency kit and make a family communications plan. The Red Cross has resources on how to keep your home and family safe. And the Humane Society has resources on preparing your pets, too.

American Rivers has experts in Washington, DC and along the east coast who are available to comment throughout next week about the impacts of Hurricane Sandy on rivers and flooding. American Rivers staff in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions will be posting updates to www.americanrivers.org

Saturday Oct. 27 11:50 a.m.

Latest reports from the Associated Press:

TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie has declared a state of emergency for New Jersey, ahead of Hurricane Sandy's expected arrival.

The declaration was announced around 11 a.m. Saturday, just before the governor held a news conference to discuss how the state was preparing for the storm. Christie had been campaigning in North Carolina before returning to New Jersey late Friday.

The state's office of emergency management has been activated and voluntary evacuations started from South Jersey's barrier islands. Mandatory evacuations there and at Atlantic City's casinos were due to start Sunday afternoon.

Christie was criticized for vacationing in Florida with his family while a snowstorm pummeled the state in 2010. But he gained fame the following year for telling New Jerseyans to "Get the hell off the beach" as Hurricane Irene approached.

MIAMI — All tropical storm watches and warnings have been canceled for Florida as Hurricane Sandy makes its way northward.

By late Saturday morning, Sandy was still at hurricane strength with winds of 75 mph. However, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami warn that the storm's formal category won't matter much. It will still dump rain and snow along much of the U.S. East Coast, and could push storm surge reaching 8 feet into some low-lying areas.

Sandy is a massive storm, with winds of 39 mph or more felt as far as 450 miles from Sandy's center.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for much of the coasts of North and South Carolina. It is currently about 355 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina.

Saturday Oct. 27 9:00 a.m.

Sandy was downgraded to a tropical storm early Saturday morning, then upgraded again to hurricane status as it picked up speed en route to the United States.

"We're expecting a large, large storm," Louis Uccellini, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Center for Environmental Prediction, told Reuters. "The circulation of this storm as it approaches the coast could cover about the eastern third of the United States."

Experts said the storm could be wider and stronger than Irene, which caused more than $15 billion in damage, and it could rival the worst East Coast storm on record, according to the Associated Press.

On Saturday morning, forecasters said hurricane-force winds of 75 mph could be felt 100 miles away from the storm's center. Early Saturday, the storm was about 155 miles north of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas and 350 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C. So far, Sandy has killed more than 40 people in the Caribbean, wrecking homes and knocking down trees and power lines.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for parts of Florida's East Coast, along with parts of North and South Carolina and the Bahamas. Tropical storm watches were issued for Georgia and parts of South Carolina, along with parts of Florida and Bermuda.

Sandy is projected to hit the Atlantic Coast early Tuesday. As it turns back to the north and northwest and merges with colder air from a winter system, West Virginia and further west into eastern Ohio and southern Pennsylvania are expected to get snow.

Forecasters are looking at the Delaware shore as the spot the storm will turn inland, bringing 10 inches of rain and extreme storm surges, Mr. Uccellini of NOAA tells the AP.

Up to 2 feet of snow is predicted to fall on West Virginia, with lighter snow in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania. A wide swath of the East, measuring several hundreds of miles, are projected to get persistent gale-force 50 mph winds, with some areas closer to storm landfall getting closer to 70 mph, said James Franklin, forecast chief for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

"It's going to be a long-lasting event, two to three days of impact for a lot of people," Franklin said. "Wind damage, widespread power outages, heavy rainfall, inland flooding and somebody is going to get a significant surge event."

Officials across the region continue to issue warnings.

“Be forewarned,” said Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy. “Assume that you will be in the midst of flooding conditions, the likes of which you may not have seen at any of the major storms that have occurred over the last 30 years.”

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