Hurricane Sandy continued to grow on Sunday. As of Sunday morning it had tropical storm force winds 520 miles out from the center. There’s plenty of danger from high winds, rain and snow as Sandy collides with a massive polar cold air mass to create the so-called “Frankenstorm”, but the greatest threat of mass destruction may come from storm surge. The latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center shows Sandy making landfall in southern New Jersey as a Category 1 hurricane sometime early Monday morning.
In his Sunday morning blog entry, Weather Underground founder Dr. Jeff Masters described the amount of water being pushed toward the east coast by Sandy as “colossal”. “A 2′ storm surge has been recorded at numerous locations this morning from Virginia to Connecticut, including a 3′ surge at Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and Sewells Point at 9 am EDT. Huge, 10 – 15 foot-high battering waves on top of the storm surge have washed over Highway 12 connecting North Carolina’s Outer Banks to the mainland at South Nags Head this morning. The highway is now impassable, and has been closed. In Delaware, the coastal highway Route 1 between Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach has been closed due to high water. Even though Sandy is a minimal Category 1 hurricane, its storm surge is extremely dangerous, and if you are in a low-lying area that is asked to evacuate, I strongly recommend that you leave.”
With his state in the cross hairs for a catastrophic weather event, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was even more blunt. During his announcement of a state of emergency Christie urged residents, especially those on barrier islands who are used to dealing with bad weather, not to get complacent. “Don’t be stupid. Get out and go to higher, safer ground,” he said.
The National Hurricane Center’s homepage has an additional warning for New York City residents: “Sandy expected to bring life-threatening storm surge flooding to the mid-Atlantic coast…including Long Island Sound and New York Harbor…”
For everyone along Sandy’s path, time is running out to complete preparations and/or evacuate. Everyone in a non-evacuation zone needs to make sure they have at least 3 days worth of non-perishable food, a gallon of water, per person, per day (don’t forget your pets need water too) and double check your supply of medicine and batteries. One useful thing to do while power is still on is to freeze water in milk jugs and ziplock bags. Ice in your freezer will help keep your perishable food cool and provide a ready supply of drinking water when it melts.