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Hurricane Sandy is already setting records (+video)

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The combined water height from storm surge and high tide is expected to range from 4 to 8 feet above ground level along a stretch of coast running from Ocean City, Md., to the coasts of Connecticut and Rhode Island, according to Richard Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

But, he adds, hot spots along the coast – Long Island Sound, New York Harbor, and Raritan Bay, for instance – could see surges of from six to 11 feet. Surge forecast maps from the National Hurricane Center and the Ocean Prediction Center point to a surge of at least three feet perhaps working its way up the Hudson River as far as Albany, N.Y. The coastline from New Jersey to Massachusetts' Cape Cod forms a funnel that will receive water the spinning storm's winds have swept around from its southwestern flank. Raritan Bay, New York Harbor, and western Long Island Sound form the pointy end of the funnel.

Storm surge does not take into account the height of waves that the storm whips up atop the surge. Moreover, forecasters are concerned that surge levels and pounding surf will remain high over several high-tide cycles.

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