By Todd Gutner, WBZ-TV Meteorologist

BOSTON (CBS) – The National Hurricane Center says this could be the largest tropical storm ever in the Atlantic Ocean.

We are already feeling the effects from Hurricane Sandy even though the storm center is almost 700 miles away from Boston. NE winds have been a bit gusty and the Cape and Islands have felt tropical storm force wind gusts around 40 mph.

Gallery: Latest Sandy Forecast Maps

This is only the tip of the iceberg and conditions will continue to deteriorate tonight with the height of the storm midday through midnight Monday and then gradually improving Tuesday morning.

Check: Tracking Maps  |  Interactive Radar  |  Current Conditions  |  Forecast Maps

Sandy is still a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 mph. The storm is located about 600 miles south of NYC and is moving NE at 14 mph. The storm will begin to turn to the north and then NW later tonight heading for eventual landfall on the New Jersey Coast Monday night.

The storm’s center will strike two hundred miles down the coast but we will still see damaging and destructive effects here in Massachusetts. The storm continues to grow in size with hurricane force winds extending 175 miles out from the center and tropical storm winds extend out 500 miles from the center so it’s important not to focus on the landfall spot.

The South Coast will see the worst from Sandy, a strong and long duration E wind along with 20+ foot waves will push water up on the shore creating a 4-6+ foot storm surge. This would be worse than Irene’s coastal flooding from last August and the result would be major coastal flooding during both the midday and midnight Monday high tide…thankfully, at the height of the storm tomorrow evening the tide will be low.

Regardless, many shore roads will take on water and debris and some communities or neighborhoods may be completely cut-off from access. South Shore, Boston Harbor and North Shore coastal location can expect minor to moderate coastal flooding.

The biggest threat for most will be the damaging wind gusts.

The South Coast will see the most destructive gusts peaking 75-85 mph from Monday noon through the evening. This will lead to widespread power outages, tree and structure damage in that region. Farther north away from the core, the winds will be a little less severe with gusts from 50-65 mph and the potential for hurricane force wind gusts especially on hilltops and exposed coastline. The result will still be widespread power outages that may rival last year’s Halloween Snowstorm. In the end, you should be preparing to lose power and know that it could be out for days.

As far as the rain goes, we will avoid major inland flooding issues rain amounts should stay below 4 inches…while this will approach flash flood guidance levels, and some street and basement flooding will occur rivers and streams will be OK.

If you haven’t already started making preparations for the storm you are quickly running out of time. I would suggest having everything done by late evening or early tomorrow morning at the latest! Get batteries, cash, gas and water for the essentials.


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