Sunday, October 28, 2012

East Coast Battening The Hatches for 'FrankenStorm'

Flooding in downtown Norfolk, VA ahead of Hurricane Sandy's arrival on Sunday night. Martin Cornick photo via twitter.
A 'perfect' storm which weather forecasters say is actually a Categroy 1 Hurricane colliding with two smaller storms is set to hit the East Coast beginning late Sunday. While Hurricane Sandy has weakened somewhat after earlier sideswiping Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Cuba last week,

Hurrican Sandy reportedly had winds in excess of 110 MPH and a well-defined eyewall more than 20 miles in diameter by the time it had made landfall on the eastern end of Cuba on October 25th. Although it weakened from a Category 2 to a category 1 Hurricane

Projected path of Hurricane Sandy, dubbed 'FrankenStorm' after it was forecast that it would merge with two other storm systems

Governors from the Carolinas to Maine have declared a state of emergency in their respective states in anticipation of Sandy/FrankenStorm's arrival. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey cautioned Garden State residents to take the forecaster's warnings seriously and that their state will likely take the brunt of Sandy while Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is asking schools and universities throughout the Bay state to shut down in anticipation of the storm's arrival. In Rhode Island, Gov Chaffee and local officials have ordered mandatory evacuations for some of the low-lying coastal towns while in Virginia, Gov McDonnell activated 400 National Guardsmen over the weekend. In New York, Gov Cuomo ordered a shutdown of the New York City subway system as well as the MTA commuter rail and bus services effective Sunday night.

Announcement warning of service shutdown at the Long Island RR station in Hicksville, NY. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Public safety employees and utility workers have been warned that they should expect to be working extra shifts over the next several days and in the Big Apple, both the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ will be closed on Monday. The Statue of Liberty was slated to re-open to the public this weekend after undergoing a series of renovations, but the official re-open date has been pushed back in anticipation of Sandy's impact in the mid-Atlantic region. Not surprisingly, in addition to commuter rail, Sandy/Frankenstorm has already snarled air service throughout the Mid Atlantic region as thousands of flights have been cancelled. On Sunday, Amtrak announced cancellation of passenger service on the northeast corridor north of New York City while service on the Northeast Corridor between new York and Washignton DC is expected to grind to a halt effective Monday.

Sandy is also affecting the upcoming presidential election with both camps cancelling or postponing campaign stops in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

Forecasters anticipate that Sandy/Frankenstorm will move inland in a similar trajectory to Hurrican/Tropical Storm Irene in late August 2011. Vermont and portions of upstate New York were particularly hard-hit, with heavily damaged roads, rail lines and bridges leaving villages in the Green Mountain state isolated from the rest of new England for as long as two weeks.

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