Why is Sandy being called a “Super Storm”? Well, it’s certainly not for its wind speeds. Forecasters use the Saffir Simpson scale as a measure of hurricane winds. The scale starts at a Category 1 storm with winds of 74 mph increasing to a Category 5 storm with winds of greater than 156 mph. As of 10 am Saturday Sandy is just barely a Category 1 storm with winds of 74 mph. The forecast has winds continuing in the 70 mph range as it makes landfall sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning.
The factor that makes this storm super is its size. By merging with a winter storm Sandy will affect the entire eastern seaboard. Many large cities will be at a virtual standstill as long as the storm continues to blow. Here are the 4 main factors that will make this storm one for the history books:
- Coastal Flooding. Costal areas of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York will be affected by storm surge, now forecast at 4-8 feet.
- Power Outages: High winds will be widespread across New England. Winds will average 50 mph with gusts over 70 mph- this will break tree limbs and take down power lines. The scale of this event (roughly from Vermont to Virginia) will keep some people in the dark for a number of days, maybe even a week.
- Heavy Mountain Snow: Moisture, cold air, and this powerful storm will combine to dump 1-2 feet of snow in high elevations. Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania will be hardest hit. Besides affecting travel this heavy wet snow will down trees and power lines creating more power outages.
- Flooding Rainfall: The leading edge of Sandy will produce heavy flooding rainfall with 4-6” of rain forecast with isolated 8” amounts possible. Flooding could stretch from Virginia to Vermont.
The path and strength of Sandy will continue to challenge forecasters, so go to the National Hurricane Center for the latest storm track. This site from the National Weather Service in Virginia is also very handy for information on Sandy. Click here for flight delays; there will be a lot of them starting Sunday night!