Hurricane Sandy churned off the East Coast Saturday afternoon. Within 48 hours, Sandy will stay offshore, then loop back to the coast and pound Long Island with rain, wind, waves.
Saturday and Sunday will turn out to be quiet days compared to Monday and Tuesday. Clouds do dominate the skies and highs are in the 60s.
Sandy was nearly due east of the Georgia coastline at 5 p.m. Saturday. Its maximum sustained winds are at 75 mph, making it a low category 1 hurricane. The latest track from the National Hurricane Center puts the storm’s center near the Delmarva Tuesday morning, but most computer models put landfall on the Jersey Shore. Although the storm’s center will be here, the immense wind field will stretch for a few hundred miles in any direction from that spot. Long Island will get the worst of these winds on Monday and Monday night.
Rain is forecasted to begin Sunday night. It will get heavier by mid-day Monday and continue into Monday night. Rainfall totals are expected to be 2-4 inches by Wednesday. Long Island may be spared from most of the heavy rain, which stays to the west of the storm’s center during the height of the storm. As a result, the rain may be heavy at times Sunday night into Monday afternoon before moving westward, leaving Long Island with lighter rain bands.
Winds are perhaps a bigger concern for Long Island. Sunday will be breezy, and winds gradually increase on Monday. Gusts may be higher for the East End first during the afternoon, but increase for the most part by Monday evening, possibly to 50 mph. As the storm approaches Monday night, wind gusts may reach 60-80 mph.
Monday night is the time period of the worst winds. Tuesday, winds die down, and Sandy’s outer rain bands become more scattered. The storm sits and spins, with its center over the mountains of Pennsylvania and New York, before finally getting caught in the weather pattern. It then heads up north by the end of the week a weaker shell of itself, leaving a rain chance well into Thursday.
A full moon, officially Monday afternoon, exacerbates the storm surge, which could approach 10 feet should the conditions be right. There is a high certainty of coastal flooding on either shore.
Watches and warnings will be issued constantly for flood and wind. Remember, even though Sandy may transition to a nor’easter, it does not mean the storm’s impact will decrease.
Evacuation orders and states of emergency have already been declared for Long Island. Heed the warnings and take officials’ advice. Stay tuned to TV, radio, and social media (including my Facebook and Twitter) for the latest updates.