The latest update concerning Hurricane Sandy, which some have given the nickname “Frankenstorm” (due to its proximity to Halloween and its picking up extra life from another storm system) has picked up speed and will hit the New Jersey shore and make landfall sooner than expected, which is in the early evening on Monday (Oct. 29). Although it is bad news that the massive storm, predicted to be one of the worst in a century, will be traveling faster and producing more devastating winds when it moves ashore, it now looks as if it could make landfall before high tide, which could lessen the storm surge somewhat. But the public advisory issued from the National Hurricane Center in Miami lends itself to the possibilities of what some, like Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy called the “most catastrophic that we have faced and been able to plan for in any of our lifetimes,” according to CNN.
Still, Hurricane Sandy, which is being compared to Hurricane Bob of 1991, could be far more catastrophic in its impact. Hurricane Bob was considered a “perfect storm,” a rare concurrence of factors that produce a particular disastrous result, but left most of its force out over the ocean. However, it did make landfall and, according to Massachusetts’ Berkshire Eagle, still slammed the coastline with winds raging at 115 mph. It came ashore at New Bedford, Mass., causing over $1 billion in damages to the southern New England coast.
But that hurricane spent most of its strength out over the open water…
According to the Advisory, Hurricane Sandy, at present a Category 1 storm, is expected to produce a storm surge in the New York area that could top out at 11 feet, which is considered life-threatening and fears are that a sustained surge might damage New York’s subway system. Winds are expected to reach a sustained speed of 90 mph, with gusts moving much faster. Winds at higher elevations move faster, and tall buildings will undoubtedly be impacted by them. In addition to the storm surge and the winds, heavy rains are expected in the mid-Atlantic states (between 4 and 8 inches but possibly up to 12 inches) and as much as 3 inches in the New York and New England area (with possible isolated rainfall areas receiving as much as 5 inches).
With such conditions imminent, it is estimated that some 60 million people could be affected all along the East Coast. The New York City area itself encompasses over 22 million people.
The hurricane has already taken 67 lives, 51 in Haiti alone as it made its way across the Caribbean. With the dire warnings of what could become the worst storm to hit the East Coast in history, New York City began battening down, leaving the streets of the bustling metropolis with only a scattering of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
As a precaution, a mandatory evacuation of New York City’s low-lying areas was ordered Sunday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Wall Street Journal reported that the subway was closed at 7 p.m. Sunday evening. All the city’s schools were announced closed for Monday.
Although the evacuation was mandatory, Bloomberg said there would be no arrests for those refusing to leave. “But they are being, I would argue, very selfish,” Bloomberg intoned. “They are not only endangering their own lives, they’re endangering the lives of others because in an emergency we aren’t going to leave them to die. We’re going to come in and save them.”
The city opened 72 evacuation centers to prepare for the influx of evacuees Sunday morning.
In related news, over 7,500 flights have been grounded due to the storm as well. In Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York, over 4,400 National Guardsmen have either been called up or soon will be. In New York, according to the Associated Press, 1,000 Guardsmen are already in place with the governor preparing to call up another 1,000.
It is as yet unknown just exactly what kind or the extent of damage that will be caused by Hurricane Sandy. However, it is turns out to be the “Frankenstorm” it is being labeled, it could very well set records for devastation.