Hurricane Sandy is continuing its route toward the Northeast, where there is a growing certainly that the massive storm will bring high winds, heavy rains and coastal flooding to Long Island early next week, although the exact path is still unclear.
The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook from Saturday through Thursday for LI in preparation for the storm system. Long Islanders could start to see effects of the storm as early as Sunday evening.
“Everyone focuses on the center of the track, but the important thing to remember with this the impact is going to be over a much larger area and can be far away from the center of the track,” NWS meteorologist Joey Picca said.
As of the National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. advisory, Sandy was a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and was moving north at 7 mph. The storm is forecast to turn toward the north-northeast on Saturday and increase in speed before turning northeast on Sunday.
Hurricane Sandy currently has hurricane force winds that extend outward of up to 35 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds that extend outward of up to 275 miles.
Forecasters warn that LI could see sustained winds up to 50 mph with gusts up to 70 mph during the height of the storm late Monday into early Tuesday. These winds could cause downed trees and power lines. Rainfall amounts are currently estimated to be around 3 to 6 inches.
“It’s not out of the question that we could see gusts of hurricane force,” Picca said.
The NWS also warns that the area could see significant shoreline impacts from coastal flooding and beach erosion.
The storm is expected to merge with another system, which has led forecasters to dub it “Frankenstorm.”
“There’s still a lot of complex interactions going on because of that merging of the low pressure from the West and Hurricane Sandy and also the high pressure off to the Northeast,” Picca said. “That’s why we still get a lot of uncertainty regarding the exact path.”
As of Friday evening, there have been 40 deaths across the Caribbean as a result of Sandy. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already declared a state of emergency for New York State.