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‘Frankenstorm’ predicted to start battering East Coast on Sunday

Tourists Stephanie Dan Koch Atlantic City N.J. take photograph high surf as Hurricane Sandy passes offshore east Friday Oct. 26

Tourists Stephanie and Dan Koch of Atlantic City, N.J. take a photograph of high surf as Hurricane Sandy passes offshore to the east, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, in Miami Beach, Fla. Hurricane Sandy left at least 21 people dead as it moved through the Caribbean, following a path that could see it blend with a winter storm and reach the U.S. East Coast as a super-storm next week. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

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Updated: October 27, 2012 10:55AM



All tropical storm watches and warnings have been canceled for Florida as Hurricane Sandy makes its way northward.

By late Saturday morning, Sandy was still at hurricane strength with winds of 75 mph. However, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami warn that the storm’s formal category won’t matter much. It will still dump rain and snow along much of the Eastern Seaboard, and could push storm surge reaching 8 feet into some low-lying areas.

Sandy is a massive storm, with winds of 39 mph or more felt as far as 450 miles from Sandy’s center.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for much of the coasts of North and South Carolina. It is currently about 355 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C.

With a rare mix of three big merging weather systems over a densely populated region, experts predict at least $1 billion in damage.

Hurricane Sandy, having blown through Haiti and Cuba and leaving at least 39 dead across the Caribbean, continues to barrel north as the lowest category hurricane. A wintry storm is moving across the United States from the west. And frigid air is streaming south from Canada.

If they meet Tuesday morning around New York or New Jersey, as forecasters predict, they could create a big, wet mess that settles over the nation’s most heavily populated corridor and reaches as far west as Ohio.

Government forecasters said there is a 90 percent chance — up from 60 percent two days earlier — that the East Coast will get pounded.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday that wherever the storm comes ashore, there will be 10 inches of rain and extreme storm surges. Up to 2 feet of snow should fall on West Virginia, with lighter snow in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“It’s going to be a long-lasting event, two to three days of impact for a lot of people,” said James Franklin, forecast chief for the National Hurricane Center.

Some have compared the tempest to the so-called Perfect Storm that struck off the coast of New England in 1991, but that one hit a less populated area.

“The Perfect Storm only did $200 million of damage and I’m thinking a billion” this time, Masters said. “Yeah, it will be worse.”



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