Hurricane Sandy, now near Jamaica, could hit the East Coast as a strong tropical storm, causing flooding early next week, according to one forecast model. But it could also head out to sea.
Weather forecasters are keeping their eye on hurricane Sandy, which could potentially affect residents from Florida to northern New England.
Although the forecasters caution that the computer models are still divided over the future path of the storm, in a worst-case scenario the US will get hit with a storm that will be bring back memories of the “perfect storm” that hammered the US in Halloween 1991.
“The weather system could have some similarities to the perfect storm,” says Paul Walker, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.com in State College, Pa. “I’m not quite sure if it will be that bad.”
The perfect storm resulted in widespread flooding as 30-foot waves raked seaside communities. Thirteen people lost their lives and damage was in the hundreds of millions of dollars. A Hollywood movie, “The Perfect Storm,” chronicled the storm and its impact on a fishing boat, the Andrea Gail, which sank offshore.
At the moment, the National Hurricane Center reports Sandy is south of Jamaica with 80 mile per hour winds. It is expected to cross Jamaica and then Cuba early Thursday morning. It will then move north through the Bahamas as a strong tropical storm, predicts Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the NHC in Miami.
“At that point the tropical force wind field will expand to more than 200 miles,” says Mr. Feltgen. “That’s why there is a tropical storm watch along the southeast Florida coast. That watch may have to be expanded northward.”
By late in the week, forecasters expect the storm will be running parallel to the southeast coast, staying well offshore. This is where the computer models diverge.
Some models have the system getting caught up in a westerly airflow. In this scenario, Sandy moves away from the coast and becomes mainly a maritime hazard. If the system moves offshore it will mainly result in some rain in the Northeast early in the week. Halloween may be wet in some communities.