By Todd Gutner WBZ-TV

Sandy went through rapid intensification last night and has maintained all that strength today while over the very warm Bahamian waters.  Sandy is a strong Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 105mph and is moving north and about to leave the Bahamas and enter the waters off the Southeastern United States.  Once it gets there, the storm will encounter water temps that are above 80 degrees thanks to the Gulf Stream.

Gallery: Latest Sandy Forecast Maps

This will keep Sandy very strong and help her maintain hurricane status.  Sandy will then start to move northeast and begin a turn out to sea.  In a normal atmospheric set-up, Sandy would continue on that path…to the northeast…and into the North Atlantic sliding harmlessly to our east.  But the developing atmospheric set-up is anything but normal and a big roadblock known as the negative NAO will prevent the traditional escape route.

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Sandy will have nowhere else to go but to turn to the north then the northwest…back toward the Northeastern part of the US with a most likely destination in the Mid-Atlantic…New Jersey perhaps.  A track like this is almost unheard of, in fact, only a couple of other tropical systems have done this that we know of.  That is why it is so hard to believe, but there is overwhelming agreement now with the models for this rare curve to the northwest.  So with that said, the chances of us feeling effects of Sandy are very high now but a track like that would not mean the worst case scenario.

The coast would take a beating:

Due to the full moon, tides are going to be astronomically high already and strong easterly winds will push water up along our coastline and large waves will pound our beaches.  Coastal flooding could be extensive with shore roads taking on water, rocks and debris.

The wind would lead to tree damage and power outages:

As the storm get s closer and closer to the Northeast, it will be traveling over much cooler waters, less than 80 degrees and Sandy will begin to weaken some and may start losing tropical characteristics.  While this would not happen instantly it’s still important.  When tropical systems start converting to a non-tropical system the strongest winds leave the core of the storm and fan out miles and miles from the center.  This means that even with a landfall in New Jersey, the wind will still be very strong here and tree and powerline damage will still be an issue.

Inland rain could lead to street and basement flooding:

Rain amounts with a landfalling tropical system or hybrid storm can be incredible and seeing how slowly this storm is expected to move through the area 10 inches of rain is not out of the question close to core as it makes landfall.  With the current path, rain amounts would be less here but we could still see 3-6 inches and that would be plenty enough to cause flooding of streets and basements.  It’s also possible, but less likely, that some rivers flood too…especially at their mouths where they meet the ocean.

This is how we see it right now…but keep in mind a lot has changed and still can.  But at this point I’d start doing some small prep work like cleaning the gutters and storm drains of leaves…bringing in the outdoor furniture and stocking up on batteries just in case.  Oh, and by the way, don’t bother raking…it’s a waste of time.


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