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Hurricane Sandy targets northeast U.S.

Chris Scott, meteorologist
October 25, 2012 — Hurricane Sandy could be an historic storm for the U.S. with devastating impacts.

Officials at the Canadian Hurricane Centre are keeping an eye on Hurricane Sandy
Officials at the Canadian Hurricane Centre are keeping an eye on Hurricane Sandy

What is the worst case scenario, and why is this storm potentially so special?

Hurricane Sandy has already caused significant damage in the Caribbean, but it is the potential of what this storm may become that has seasoned U.S. meteorologists describing this as a possible "Storm of the Century".

Forecast models have clustered around a scenario which would bring Sandy into the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast U.S. Coast Monday or Tuesday as a powerful hybrid storm system - think of it as a hurricane mixed with a nor'easter - not a good recipe.

The worse case scenario is for Sandy to follow the Gulf Stream over the weekend and then take a dramatic left hook, giving a flush hit to the Jersey shore just south of New York City.

Even if the current forecast models are overdoing the strength of the storm system, this type of track is so unique that it would likely cause substantial storm surge flooding in low lying areas of New York City (e.g. New York Harbor, Lower Manhattan).

While winds would not likely exceed Category 1 strength, the size of the storm would mean that a huge area would be affected by winds strong enough to bring down thousands of trees and leave millions without power.  Heavy rain could trigger flash flooding.

It might be calm and clear right now -- but that could change
It might be calm and clear right now -- but that could change

Why so special?
The original Perfect Storm occurred in late October 1991 and was the result of a unique combination of tropical ingredients (Hurricane Grace) and cold air from a deep jet stream trough.

The Perfect Storm did not make a landfall, but the huge waves it generated caused severe coastal damage.

Hurricane Sandy is a different type of storm, but there are similarities with the Perfect Storm:
- Time of year - almost to the day
- A hybrid storm - part hurricane, part nor'easter
- Location - U.S. Eastern Seaboard

Could Sandy miss?
It's possible, but forecast models are indicating that a U.S. East Coast impact is likely.  What is still uncertain is the exact location and intensity of the storm as it approaches the coast Monday - these details will determine whether Sandy is remembered as a significant storm, or an epic storm.

Canadian impact
It's too soon to call, but anyone from Windsor, Ontario to Windsor, Nova Scotia needs to pay attention to this forecast over the weekend.  In fact, some of Thursday's forecast models suggested Sandy's impact could be more significant in Southern Ontario than in Nova Scotia.  Stay tuned.

Keep watching The Weather Network on TV, Web, and Mobile for all the latest updates.

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