And so it begins. Mega monster Sandy, with 40+ mph winds 900 miles across and embedded hurricane-force winds is going to hang a left and smash into the Northeast on Monday - a maneuver we've never seen before from system that originated in the tropics. There's no good news from the Hurricane Hunters or the computer forecast models. If anything, the storm is providing more drama in its first act than was expected.
Water is coming over sea walls. Flooding and whipping winds have already started. Just from the fringe of Sandy.
At the coast, by far the worst of this is going to come at high tide at the Jersey Shore and points north. The tide will peak along much of the Northeast coast around 9PM and 9AM, but around noon and midnight on the ocean side of Cape Cod. The difference between low and high tide can be 3 feet and more... a really big deal.
In a normal hurricane you can get lucky... the storm can come in at low tide, and then it's gone by the time high tide comes around. But in this case, the water will be high for a number of tide cycles, so there doesn't seem to be a way to avoid the full impact of the surging, smashing water and waves.
Waves of 10 to 20 feet on TOP of the storm surge and the tide are forecast for the south-facing beaches of Long Island. This will likely be the highest water and the most damage in many decades. On the north shore of Long Island and the south shores of Connecticut and Rhode Island, the water will be exceptionally high as well - likely exceeding Irene, which did major damage. Evacuations have been ordered. And water levels exceeding Irene are expected at many locations along the coast.
For folks staying home, if you're riding out the storm in a house surrounded by trees, stay on the opposite side of the house from the wind on a low floor. Close the curtains to cover windows facing the wind... but still be very careful near any glass that could break.
High rises in the big cities may be a problem. It's especially important that you stay away from the windows. If something flies off a neighboring building, it can smash windows downwind. Besides that, the wind is stronger because you're higher in the air, and the air gets squeezed between the tall buildings. The high wind stresses the glass, and makes it break more violently if something hits it.
It will likely take until Wednesday... or maybe longer than that... before we know what has happened. It's likely that transportation will still be difficult or impossible on Tuesday as the monster wind machine slowly spins down. Even Wednesday and Thursday we'll know that a giant storm is nearby.
That's it. Hunker down, be smart, and stay safe.