Long Island is battening down the hatches as forecasters warn of a dangerous pre-Halloween “frankenstorm”—Hurricane Sandy mixed with a winter storm—that may roll ashore early next week.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services are monitoring the storm, which could bring heavy rain, high winds, flooding, tornadoes, coastal surges and widespread power outages to the region.
“I urge all New Yorkers to closely track the storm’s path, using local radio and television or online reports,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “We will actively monitor the storm’s progress and take any steps necessary to protect our state’s residents.”
Sandy blew through the Caribbean earlier this week, where at least two deaths have been reported, and was approaching southeastern Florida as of Thursday night. Its exact track is uncertain, but it could merge with a winter storm along the East Coast before hitting the New York area Monday or Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“If there’s a track farther away from the coast, we would see some impact, along the lines of some very minor coastal flooding, some rough seas and maybe some breezy conditions,” said David Stark, an Upton-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“But if the track is much closer to the coast,” he warned, “it could be a significant storm, with strong winds, heavy rain, more significant coastal flooding, but it’s still too early to tell.”
Although the first snow last year came during a freak Halloween storm, Stark said that Long Islanders should not expect to see any of the white stuff this time. He said the merging of the two storm systems will turn the tropical cyclone into more of a hybrid nor’easter as it churns up the Atlantic.
The Long Island Power Authority is also preparing for the worst in an attempt to preempt damage seen last year when Tropical Storm Irene down trees and power lines, leaving about half of their 1.3 million customers without power—some for more than a week.
LIPA customers are urged pre-register their cell phones to report outages and receive restoration updates via text by texting “REG” to 695472, where reporting outages is as simple as texting “OUT.” Customers without power can also call 1-800-490-0075.
-With Lindsay Christ