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Not a trick or a treat: Hurricane Sandy could hit as monster hybrid storm

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Mr. Norcross says from a meteorological standpoint Sandy will begin to look like the 1991 “perfect storm” that raked the East Coast with high tides and strong wind, leaving 13 people dead in its wake.

That storm, a combination of hurricane Grace and a massive Nor’easter, derived yet more energy from the jet stream, a river of air that controls weather patterns.

“This combination all coming together is not seen very often,” says Norcross. “It takes just the right configuration in the atmosphere for it all to come together.”

Many different meteorological parts still have to fall into place for Sandy to develop into the type of storm described by Norcross.

For example, an upper level low pressure system will have to move from the Pacific Ocean to the East Coast in three or four days. This low will draw Sandy in from the Atlantic toward the coastline.

“The meteorological mechanism for all this to happen is still out in the Pacific Ocean, and that is a long way to come and a lot can happen,” cautions James Aman, senior meteorologist at Earthworks, the parent company of the WeatherBug in Germantown, Md.

That’s one reason why the NHC is still telling people living in the East not to head for higher ground just yet.

“People in the Northeast and New England should pay attention,” says Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the NHC. “You might want to stock some supplies in case the power goes out and be aware of your situation.”

What especially concerns Norcross and other forecasters is that as the storm moves up the coast it may take a left-turn to come onshore. This would result in a storm surge that could pile water up along seaside communities.

“The odds are if this forecast comes to pass and the storm comes in south of New York City, we are talking tremendous damage to Long Island, New Jersey, and New York City itself,” he says.

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