Dangerous Hurricane Sandy set to slam into the area

Hurricane Sandy in the Western Atlantic on the afternoon of Sunday October 28th, 2012. Notice the front to her west, which she will phase with tomorrow.

A storm of record breaking size will take an unprecedented track from the Western Atlantic Ocean and recurve back to the west, likely making landfall on the New Jersey Shore late Monday Night into early Tuesday Morning. In all likelihood, many of us have never seen a storm similar to the one we are set to experience over the next several days. While our objective is to not sound like alarmists, our job is also to inform the public of the potential hazards. In this case, the potential hazards are more dangerous than usual. Over the next few days, hazards will include hurricane force winds, record setting storm surge, and widespread flooding rains. Below, we highlight today’s new developments, bring you our first event timeline and hazard overview. If you haven’t yet, check out our last article for a detailed look at why the threat is developing.

Brief: What are the major developments/changes over the last 12-24 hours? Not many in terms of the storms expectations, but lots of news from government officials. The National Hurricane Center is still expecting the storm to make landfall along the Central NJ Coast. Storm surge estimates have been updated to 6-11 feet. For perspective, general storm surge from Hurricane Irene was 4 feet. The NYC Mayors Office announced all Public Schools are closed on Monday, and the MTA announced that all public transportation will stop running at 7pm Sunday. In addition, mandatory evacuations are in effect for Zone A (low lying areas) of NYC. Mandatory evacuations continue for barrier islands of both New York and New Jersey with voluntary evacuations along most of the NJ/NY shores.

What are the main threats with Sandy?

  • Storm Surge: Sandy is the largest tropical cyclone in the Atlantic Ocean (yes, in history). She is piling up a ton of water and as she phases with the upper level trough to our west and recurves towards us, it will come directly at the east coast. The NWS is forecasting a storm surge of over 6 feet and a maximum of 11 feet. If you live a storm surge prone area, evacuate.
  • Flooding: Heavy rain and high winds plus storm surge will cause significant amounts of coastal flooding. If you live on a barrier island, near the ocean, or near a body of water, we recommend evacuating as well. Flooding is also likely inland from heavy rain. If you live in an inland flood prone area, move to a higher ground or prepare for the flooding.
  • High Winds: Sandy will merge with another upper level storm and become a very powerful low pressure area. The jet streams will feature some very strong wind fields just above and at the surface. Tropical storm force winds are likely throughout the area, and hurricane force wind gusts are also possible. This is especially true near the coasts. Prepare for the potential for widespread wind damage.

Have you been able to narrow down an expected timeline of events? Yes. Our team of meteorologists has worked out the following spread of expected timing of hazards to help you remain prepared.

Sunday Night

  • Showers becoming widespread throughout most of the are from southeast to northwest. Winds will begin to increase. This is your last chance for final preparations. It’s better to be safe than sorry — so be prepared.
  • Winds will increase but there will still be periods of calm winds…with gusts increasing in intensity and frequency by the overnight period.

Monday

  • Morning: Things will rapidly go downhill during the day on Monday. In the morning, expect a moderate breeze at almost all times with gusts higher than that. This will be especially true along the shore. Rain increasing in intensity and becoming widespread. The first signs of storm surge and coastal flooding along the shores and storm surge prone areas.
  • Afternoon: Very heavy rain throughout most of the area. Winds rapidly becoming sustained near Tropical Storm Force. Hurricane force wind gusts along the shore and possible inland as well. Storm surge and high waves begins to pound the NJ Shore and Long Island Sound.
  • Evening: The worst of the storm system. The surface low will be swinging towards the NJ Shore and will eventually make landfall. As it does, winds will abruptly shift southeast in almost all of the area’s coastal locations. The storm surge will be at its worst. Very heavy rain, widespread flooding, tropical storm force sustained winds with gust over hurricane force are likely throughout the area. Do not travel Monday Night unless it is absolutely necessary. Leave the roads open for emergency services and do not travel simply for your own safety.

Tuesday

  • Morning: The worst of the storm continues for a few hours into Tuesday morning (could end slightly earlier depending on storm timing). Southeast gale force winds will continue to hammer the New Jersey shore, and will bring significant amounts of storm surge into NY Harbor and the South facing shores of Long Island and the LI Sound. Winds continuing with Tropical Storm force sustained and Hurricane Force gusts.
  • Afternoon: The worst of the winds will begin to die down with strong gusts still possible and sustained winds still over 25 miles per hour along the shores. Showers will remain in the forecast throughout the day despite a decrease in moisture.
  • Evening: The storm begins weakening over land and the atmospheric setup becomes less favorable for strong winds and heavy precipitation. Isolated showers will still continue, however, through most of the area.

At this point, what can I do to be best prepared? Today is the last day to make preparations. If you haven’t yet, for whatever reason, you should do so now. This is a potentially life-threatening storm system. No, this does not mean that your life will be at stake the entire event as you cower in a corner. But don’t take the chance of not being properly prepared. Here are the recommended pre-storm preparations..

If you live on the beach, near the shore, or on a barrier island and are not under a mandatory evacuation:

  • Board up windows
  • Secure boats and docks
  • Remove outdoor decorations or loose objects
  • Clear gutters and drains of leaves and debris
  • Have flashlights, batteries, and essentials available.
  • If possible, have a backup power source available.
  • Charge your cell phone and fill up your car with gas prior to the storm.
  • Have an NOAA weather radio readily available.

If you live inland, in a city or suburb and are not under a mandatory evacuation:

  • Bring in all loose objects outdoors that may fly away
  • Clear gutters and drains of leaves and debris
  • Charge your cell phone and fill up your car with gas prior to the storm.
  • If possible, have a backup power source available.
  • Have flashlights, batteries, and essentials available.
  • Trim loose branches from trees.
  • Have an NOAA weather radio readily available.

You say to prepare for the worst. What if the worst doesn’t happen? Then its better that you were prepared anyway. Storms like this will always end up with us getting angry emails about how some people’s exact location didn’t get severe damage. And ultimately, that’s what is difficult about the weather. Conditions can vary so dramatically — so in this case, for instance, someone is going to see significant flooding and 80mph gusts and somebody isn’t. But the point of the entire thing, this time, is that the hazardous conditions will be much more widespread than usual. So we urge you to prepare, regardless of whether or not you end up seeing severe weather, lose power, or have damage to your home.

Bottom Line: A significant, high impact storm system is set to impact the entire area. Conditions will differ depend on your exact location, but we urge you to prepare for the worst. This is a serious storm system, do not take it lightly. Whether or not you see damage or severe weather, you glad that you were prepared..we can guarantee you that. We remind you to stay with us for future updates on both our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Also, if you have storm reports, submit them to us via email or social media. We need them more than ever during Hurricane Sandy. Stay safe.

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