Hurricane Sandy, the storm that battered parts of Jamaica and Cuba this week, has its eye set on the Eastern Seaboard, and it’s not looking pretty. In fact, it’s looking so ugly that it may morph into a nor’easter similar to 1991’s “Perfect Storm” before it hits the coast early next week. If current predictions are any indication, over 65 million people could be facing gale-force winds, flooding, heavy rain and maybe even snow as early as next Monday.
Traditionally, a nor’easter is a powerful storm that travels south to north along the East Coast, usually occuring during the fall and winter months. Increasing winds from the northeast turn the converging air masses into a deadly combination of precipitation.
According to forecasters, the coming storm has a 70 percent chance of hitting the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states by Monday, bringing power outages and coastal flooding. Hurricane Sandy, now a category 2 storm, has already spawned 29-foot waves and a six-foot storm surge off of Cuba.
Making the situation worse, another storm system coming up from the Ohio Valley is expected to meet up with Sandy
around the same time that it reaches North Carolina. Meteorologists say that this combination of different storm types creates the biggest potential for widespread damage.
“It could be a Nor’easter on steroids,” NWS meteorologist Robert Thompson told NBC station WHDH-TV in Boston. “It’s got the potential to rival the great Nor’easters of the past depending upon the eventual track it takes.”
Forecaster Jim Cisco of the NWS prediction center told the AP that the worst scenario is unlike anything seen in recent history, including the 1991 Perfect Storm that inspired the popular book and movie. “We don’t have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting,” he said.
“The ‘Perfect Storm’ only did $200 million of damage and I’m thinking a billion,” Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private service Weather Underground, told the AP. “Yeah, it will be worse.”
These (terrifying) predictions all depend on how Sandy approaches the U.S. If it hits around Delaware, which is what most models foresee, there will be a high chance of snow in the Mid-Atlantic region. If it hits farther north near Maine, chances for snow in the mid-Atlantic and even up to New York are lessened, Masters said. Regardless, high winds and and flooding are expected in most coastal regions.