On the eve of the first anniversary of a devastating Halloween snowstorm in New Jersey, the state once again is warily watching a hurricane churning up the East Coast and utility officials are already preparing for a possible hit.
The Carribean-born Hurricane Sandy made landfall over Cuba this morning as a Category 2 hurricane, bringing sustained winds of 105 mph. Forecasters predict the current track will take Sandy over the Bahamas before it turns north.
From there computer models differ on where Sandy will go. One takes it northeast and out to sea over the Atlantic. But another, more reliable model, says Sandy will make landfall somewhere near Delaware, the National Weather Service says in its most recent update on the storm Thursday morning.
The most recent models of the storm, says Weather Underground forecaster Jeff Masters," portray an increased risk to the U.S. and Canadian East Coasts for early next week.
"An extra set of balloon-borne radiosondes is going to be launched at 2 p.m. (today) all across the U.S., which should help tomorrow evening's model runs make better forecasts of where Sandy might go. Extra radiosondes will be launched every 6 hours through Saturday afternoon."
In New Jersey, the hazardous weather outlook was issued to begin Thursday, when rainfall and increased wind speeds are expected.
"The remnants of Sandy may affect portions of the area this weekend into early next week," according to the NWS website.
On its Facebook page the New Jersey State Office of Emergency Management reports, "There is a potential for a very powerful and dangerous autumn store to affect our region early next week." The statement continues, "There is a growing threat of strong winds, very heavy rainfall, coastal flooding and inland flooding to affect our region early next week."
Whether the storm moves out to sea or up the coast the National Weather Service says a large area could be affected based on the size of the predicted storm. They also expect it to be a slow moving storm which could mean more damage for the area it crosses.
Keep monitoring forecasts
"This will ultimately depend on the eventual track and evolution of Tropical Cyclone Sandy as it interacts with a deepening upper level low pressure system approaching the east coast," the NWS said. "The storm may very well just move out to sea and have little, if any, impact on our weather. Again, forecast confidence is still low at this point since Sandy is still in the Caribbean Sea and any potential impacts are still several days away. Please refer to the National Hurricane Center for the latest forecasts on Sandy, and monitor the latest National Weather Service forecasts throughout the week."
Kristina Pydynowski, senior meteorologist for Accuweather.com, said "Depending on the path of Sandy, now brewing in the Caribbean, people along the East Coast during the week of Halloween could be looking a destructive storm or breathing a sigh of relief. Final destination scenarios for Sandy range from bypassing the East Coast to creating a nightmare for tens of millions of people from Norfolk, Va., to Philadelphia, New York City and Boston."
If it hits, it could be a big one
Eric Holthaus from the Wall Street Journal said if it hits, it could count among one of the bigger storms in history:
"What could happen is quite complicated, and may have precedence only a handful of times across the more than 200 years of detailed historical local weather recordkeeping (Big storms in 1804, 1841, 1991, and 2007 come immediately to mind)," he said.