Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

Currently: 71° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

5 reasons why Hurricane Sandy is expected to be a superstorm

Image

Associated Press

Jeremy Seidel, of Waterford, Conn., covers storefront windows with plywood in the Watch Hill section of Westerly, R.I., on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in preparation for high winds from the expected arrival of Hurricane Sandy.

Updated Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 | 5:03 p.m.

1. A NORTHBOUND HURRICANE

Hurricane Sandy is moving slowly northeast and but was expected to turn to the north and west later Sunday and Monday, forecasters say. At some point, it's expected to become what's known as an extratropical storm. Unlike a hurricane, which gets its power from warm ocean waters, extratropical systems are driven by temperature contrasts in the atmosphere.

Although Sandy is a hurricane, it's important not to focus too much on its official category or its precise path (current models show it making landfall over New Jersey or Delaware sometime early Tuesday). Louis Uccellini, environmental prediction chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press that given Sandy's east-to-west track into New Jersey, the worst of the storm surge could be just to the north, in New York City, on Long Island and in northern New Jersey.

Boston and Philadelphia should expect the worst storm conditions Monday afternoon into Tuesday morning.

It's a massive system that will affect a huge swath of the eastern U.S., regardless of exactly where it hits or its precise wind speed. For example, tropical storm-force winds can be felt more than 500 miles from the storm's center, according to the National Hurricane Center. It's already caused some minor flooding in North Carolina's Outer Banks and has prompted evacuations elsewhere. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has personnel and supplies spread as far west as the Ohio River Valley, said Craig Fugate, the agency's director.

2. EARLY WINTER STORM

Sandy is expected to merge with a wintry system from the west, at which point it will become the powerful superstorm that has forecasters and officials across the eastern U.S. Winds from that system will pull Sandy back toward the U.S. mainland.

3. ARCTIC AIR FROM THE NORTH

Frigid air coming south from Canada also is expected to collide with Sandy and the wintry storm from the west, creating a megastorm that is expected to park over the northeast for days. The brunt of the storm could hit areas farther inland. Officials are bracing for the worst: nearly a foot of rain, high winds and up to 2 feet of snow.

4. HIGH TIDES COULD WORSEN FLOODING

Further complicating matters is the possibility for dangerous storm surges: A full moon means the tides will be higher than usual, which will make it easier for the storm's powerful winds to push water into low-lying areas. That, coupled with the threat of several inches of rain, has officials working to shore up flood defenses.

Storm surge could reach anywhere from 2 to 11 feet along the northeastern coast, forecasters say. Inland river flooding also is a serious concern.

5. COMBO OF SNOW, WIND INCREASES RISK FOR WIDESPREAD POWER OUTAGES

Storms in recent years have left hundreds of thousands of people in the eastern U.S. without power, sometimes for days at a time. Utilities have been bringing in extra crews and lining up tree trimmers so they're prepared, and with good reason. The superstorm brings two possibilities for knocking out electricity. For one, hurricane-force winds of at least 74 mph could send tree branches into power lines, or even topple entire trees and power poles. Those left standing could succumb to snow, which could weigh down still-leafy branches enough to also topple trees.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 3 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. There is actually 6 reasons it could be a big storm.
    6. The media is doing all it can to make this the storm of the century, well maybe the storm of 5 centuries.

  2. Forecasting storms is akin to what Madam Blanco does down on Sahara Ave. And Madam Blanco is probably more accurate...she uses better quality tea leaves.

    Even our president got in some pre-storm TV air time today. Wow, politicizing storm events that haven't even happend yet.

  3. When you send your best wishes and thoughts to friends and family in the path of Megastorm Sandy, consider the implications of the actions of those would-be elected officials who would cut funding for FEMA and who don't believe in the observable mechanics of climate change.
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/06...