Hurricane Sandy, 'Superstorm' aims for East Coast - Tucson News Now

Hurricane Sandy, 'Superstorm' aims for East Coast

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The National Hurricane Center's five-day forecast cone for Hurricane Sandy, as of 2 p.m. ET. (Source: NWS) The National Hurricane Center's five-day forecast cone for Hurricane Sandy, as of 2 p.m. ET. (Source: NWS)

(RNN) – Forecasters have said Sandy could become an unusual mix of hurricane and winter storms blasting the East Coast during Halloween week. The weather community expressed concern the "Superstorm" resembles the "Perfect Storm" of 21 years ago.

The Perfect Storm swept the coast in 1991, killing 13 people and causing more than $200 million in damages to the northeastern U.S. Meteorologists say this storm is likely to cause $1 billion in damages.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the agency has remained in contact with state governments along the storm's expected path, and stands ready to support preparedness efforts. He asked residents to listen to local officials as Sandy moved continued its slow trek in the Atlantic and east of Florida.

"As the storm moves northward, it serves as a reminder that we all need to be prepared for severe weather," Fugate said. "Now is the time to update your family communication plans, check your supplies, and stay informed.

"A hurricane isn't a point on a map - it's a big storm and its impact will be felt far from the center."

On Friday, the category 1 storm continued moving northwest at 10 mph and is expected to stay on a similar path Saturday.

As of 1 p.m., Sandy was moving north at 7 mph and located about 430 miles south-southeast of Charleston, SC.

Millions along the East Coast should closely watch the progression of Hurricane Sandy as it moves northward. Going into Friday night and Saturday, the Florida Keys, southeast and east-central Florida are expected to experience heavy rainfall and high winds.

"The hurricane part of the storm is likely to come ashore somewhere in New Jersey on Tuesday morning, but this is a storm that will affect a far wider area, so people all along the East have to be wary," NOAA forecaster Jim Cisco told the Associated Press.

According to WWBT, Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of Emergency in Virginia Friday in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, making the Commonwealth the first state to make the declaration from the storm.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley also declared a state of emergency.

Where it may hit along the East Coast is unclear, with possibilities ranging from North Carolina to New England. Meteorologists said there is a slight possibility the storm could also drift harmlessly out to the Atlantic Ocean.

The National Hurricane Center has issued tropical storm warnings and watches for Florida's southeastern coast from the Volusia/Brevard County line south to the Upper Keys.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Carolinas, and more watches could be extended up the coast Friday.

New York was beginning to prepare for trouble. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told reporters the city activated its coastal storm plan on Thursday morning and that it had already opened its Office of Emergency Management situation room.

Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, told WNYC that the agency was discussing contingency plans to move buses to higher ground if necessary. Last year, they carried out an unprecedented shutdown of the entire subway system ahead of Tropical Storm Irene.

"I don't think we're looking at anything like that for what's happening next week," Lhota said.

The storm is likely to hit during a full moon when tides are near their highest, increasing coastal flooding potential, NOAA forecasts warn. With some trees still leafy and the potential for snow, power outages could last to the Nov. 6 Election Day.

On Thursday, forecasters upped the odds of a major weather event, with a 90 percent chance the eastern seaboard will get steady gale-force winds, heavy rain, flooding and snow starting Sunday and stretching past Wednesday.

While the storm has weakened since Thursday, heavy and damaging winds still extended far out from the center of the storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane-force winds of at least 74 mph extended 35 miles out from the center, and tropical storm force winds of 39 mph to 73 mph extend outward 275 miles.

Some weather forecasters called the potentially devastating mix of the hurricane and winter weather from the Midwest a "Frankenstorm." 

Hurricane Sandy already lashed the central Bahamas with violent winds and torrential rains after raging through the Caribbean, where it caused at least 21 deaths.

Both private and federal meteorologists called it a storm that would likely go down in the history books.

"We don't have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting," Cisco said.

Sandy is the 18th named tropical storm or hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, and Tropical Storm Tony, spinning harmlessly in the Atlantic, makes 19. An average season sees about 12 named storms and hurricanes.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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