'Frankenstorm' threatens US northeast
The superstorm expected to develop from Hurricane Sandy will probably bring high winds to a large area of the US northeast and may end up knocking electricity out for days.
The system, dubbed “Frankenstorm” by the National Weather Service, will grow out of Sandy and two other storms rushing eastward across the US, said Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
“I think there will be widespread damage from this storm from the mid-Atlantic states at least into southern New England,” Kines said by telephone. “Whether or not it’s still a hurricane when it hits remains to be seen, but I don’t think it matters in terms of the weather or the damage.”
The hybrid storm may strike anywhere from the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia peninsula to southern New England. The current National Hurricane centre track calls for the system to move between Baltimore and Wilmington, Delaware, on Oct. 30.
The centre warns the track is subject to change.
“Users are reminded to not focus on the details of the track forecast late in the period, as Sandy is expected to bring impacts to a large part of the US East Coast early next week,” the centre said.
AccuWeather predicts the storm will hit in southern New Jersey.
Kines said it doesn’t matter where the system goes ashore because it will be so large by then that winds of 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour may stretch from the mid-Atlantic to Boston.
“I don’t think people need to focus on where the centre is going because it’s going to be a such a widespread event,” Kines said.
The result may be widespread power outages that last for days, he said.
“As we learned from past storms, when there is a widespread power outage you don’t get your power the next day,” Kines said.
A tropical-storm watch was issued from near Savannah, Georgia, northward to Oregon Inlet in North Carolina, the NHC said in an advisory. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Florida’s east coast from Ocean Reef to Flagler Beach. A storm watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within the region, a warning means tropical storm conditions are expected.
As of 11 a.m. New York time, Sandy was a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 80 miles (129 kilometers) per hour, down from 100 mph earlier, according to the hurricane centre in Miami. It was 25 miles north-northeast of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas and 460 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, moving northwest at 10 mph.
“If the storm follows the current hurricane centre forecast, we are looking at over $US5 billion in damage,” Chuck Watson, director of research and development at Kinetic Analysis Corp. in Silver Spring, Maryland, said yesterday.
Watson said the track may change quite a bit between now and early next week.
Sandy’s apparent weakening doesn’t accurately predict the storm it may become, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. Computer models suggest the hurricane may transform into a hybrid system over the weekend because of another storm moving in from the Midwest.
“When the storm phases with the energy from the west, it is forecast to deepen rapidly,” Rogers said. “Indeed, it is expected to continue weakening until phasing really takes place late Sunday into early Monday.”
Rogers said the barometric pressure may fall lower than when Sandy was a hurricane in the Caribbean. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.
The storm may last two or three days because it’s moving so slowly, US forecasters said today.
Paul Kocin, a National Weather Service meteorologist in College Park, Maryland, said yesterday the hybrid Sandy may become might be the worst storm to hit the Northeast since 1938, when a hurricane killed more than 500 people after crossing Long Island and battering Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Governments along the East Coast are preparing for Sandy’s impact. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo directed state agencies to monitor the storm and Massachusetts’s Emergency Management Agency warned residents to expect the worst.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley declared states of emergency ahead of the storm.
New York City has a 55 percent chance of winds of at least 39 mph by Oct. 30, according to estimates by Tropical Storm Risk, a consortium of experts on insurance, risk management and climate supported by the U.K. government.
Tom Larsen, senior vice president and product architect at Eqecat Inc., a risk modeler in Oakland, California, said yesterday he doesn’t expect Sandy to be worse than Irene. That storm struck the East Coast in August 2011, killing at least 45 people and causing at least $US15.8 billion in damage, according to the hurricane centre.
The system crossed Jamaica Oct. 24 and Cuba yesterday, tracking north to the central Bahamas, where a hurricane watch was posted for many of the islands. At least 29 people were killed in the Caribbean as homes were ripped apart and rivers flooded, the Associated Press reported.
Winds of at least 74 mph extend 35 miles from Sandy’s core, while gusts of 39 mph reach out 275 miles. The distance from Freeport, Bahamas, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is 94 miles.