Frankenstorm: 5 reasons why Sandy is expected to be a superstorm of epic proportions

The meteorology behind the perfect storm

Here are five reasons why Hurricane Sandy will become a superstorm of epic proportions.

1. A NORTHBOUND HURRICANE

Hurricane Sandy is moving slowly toward the north-northeast and is expected to continue its current path parallel to the Carolinas over the weekend, forecasters say. At some point, it is expected to become what's known as an extratropical storm. Unlike a tropical system like a hurricane, which gets its power from warm ocean waters, extratropical systems are driven by temperature contrasts in the atmosphere. At some point, probably Monday, Sandy will begin to turn back toward the coast and eventually make landfall over Delaware or New Jersey.

Although Sandy is currently a hurricane, it's important not to focus too much on its official category or its precise path. It's a massive system that will affect a huge swath of the eastern U.S., regardless of exactly where it hits or its precise wind speed. For example, tropical storm-force winds can be felt 450 miles away from the storm's center, according to the National Hurricane Center. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has personnel and supplies spread as far west as the Ohio River Valley, said Craig Fugate, the agency's director.

2. EARLY WINTER STORM

Sandy is expected to merge with a wintry system from the west, at which point it will become the powerful superstorm that has forecasters and officials from North Carolina to New England on edge. Winds from that system will pull Sandy back toward the U.S. mainland.

3. ARCTIC AIR FROM THE NORTH

Frigid air coming south from Canada also is expected to collide with Sandy and the wintry storm from the west, creating a megastorm that is expected to park over the northeast for days. Forecasters are expecting residents from Florida to North Carolina to feel the peripheral effects. But the brunt of the storm could hit areas farther inland. Officials are bracing for the worst: nearly a foot of rain, high winds and up to 2 feet of snow.

4. HIGH TIDES COULD WORSEN FLOODING

Further complicating matters is the possibility for dangerous storm surges: A full moon means the tides will be higher than usual, which will make it easier for the storm's powerful winds to push water into low-lying areas. That, coupled with the threat of several inches of rain, has officials working to shore up flood defenses.

Storm surge could reach 4 to 8 feet from Maryland to Rhode Island, forecasters say. And inland river flooding is also a major concern, federal officials said Sunday.

5. COMBO OF SNOW, WIND INCREASES RISK FOR WIDESPREAD POWER OUTAGES

Storms in recent years have left hundreds of thousands of people in the eastern U.S. without power, sometimes for days at a time. Utilities have been bringing in extra crews and lining up tree trimmers so they're prepared, and with good reason. The superstorm brings two possibilities for knocking out electricity. For one, hurricane-force winds of at 74 mph could send tree branches into power lines, or even topple entire trees and power poles. Those left standing could succumb to snow, which could weigh down still-leafy branches enough to also topple trees.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

Related Stories

New York City fights to end hotel program for Superstorm Sandy evacuees New York City fights to end hotel program for Superstorm Sandy evacuees

About 350 homeless Superstorm Sandy evacuees who have been sleeping in New York City-funded hotel rooms for nearly a year may be forced to check out for good.

Message in a bottle: Note found amid Long Island Sandy debris is from dead girl Sidonie Fery Message in a bottle: Note found amid Long Island Sandy debris is from dead girl Sidonie Fery

A 12-year-old message in a bottle is discovered amid a beach strewn with debris from Superstorm Sandy.

Jon Bon Jovi gives $1 million to New Jersey Superstorm Sandy relief Jon Bon Jovi gives $1 million to New Jersey Superstorm Sandy relief

Jon Bon Jovi went home Monday to present a $1 million check from his band to a fund to help New Jersey recover from Superstorm Sandy.

Much of Red Cross fund for Superstorm Sandy aid still unspent Much of Red Cross fund for Superstorm Sandy aid still unspent

Seven months after Superstorm Sandy, the Red Cross still hasn't spent more than a third of the $303 million it raised to assist victims of the storm, a strategy the organization says will help address needs that weren't immediately apparent in the disaster's wake.

New Jersey shore readies for 1st post-Sandy summer New Jersey shore readies for 1st post-Sandy summer

The boardwalks are back, and so are most of the beaches, even if some are a little thinner this year.

Roller coaster to be removed from ocean in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy Roller coaster to be removed from ocean in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy

This time next week, perhaps the most famous symbol of Superstorm Sandy's devastation at the Jersey shore will be gone.

Superstorm Sandy clean-up and repairs continue at northeast Ohio marinas Superstorm Sandy clean-up and repairs continue at northeast Ohio marinas

Northeast Ohio marinas continue clean-up from Superstorm Sandy, which hit more than six months ago.

Lorain Public Boat Ramp closed Monday for Superstorm Sandy repairs Lorain Public Boat Ramp closed Monday for Superstorm Sandy repairs

Safety Service Director Robert Fowler tells NewsChannel5 the Lorain Public Boat Ramp will be closed Monday from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. to repair dock damages caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Bay Village makes changes to emergency response plans after Superstorm Sandy Bay Village makes changes to emergency response plans after Superstorm Sandy

Monday night, Bay Village residents are welcome to attend an open meeting at Bay Village City Hall at 7 p.m.

Shrubs and evergreens in high demand six months after Superstorm Sandy slammed northeast Ohio Shrubs and evergreens in high demand six months after Superstorm Sandy slammed northeast Ohio

Trees, shrubs and evergreens in high demand six months after Superstorm Sandy slammed into northeast Ohio.