As Hurricane Sandy approaches the east coast of the United States, weather forecasters are wondering if Sandy will be worse than the "Perfect Storm" of 1991.
According to the Washington Post, Sandy has already claimed the lives of nearly two dozen people in the Caribbean. Nine people were killed in Haiti, 11 in Cuba and 1 in Jamaica. Extensive damage due to flash flooding and mudslides was also reported.
Although Sandy is currently listed as category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 MPH, meteorologists are warning that she may hit the northeastern coast of the United States with powerful winds and rains. CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano stated:
"Forget about the category with this. When you have trees with leaves on them still, this kind of wind and rain on top of that, you're talking about trees that are going to come down, power lines are going to be out and the coastal flooding situation is going to be huge."KYW-TV meteorologist Kathy Orr has said if the storm remains on it's current track, widespread power outages could be seen for at least a couple of weeks.
In 1991, a combination of three different weather systems resulted in the famed "Perfect Storm" along the north Atlantic over Halloween. During that storm, rain from Hurricane Grace combined with a cold front and a high pressure system according to the National Weather Service. Although the maximum sustained winds for that storm were only 60 mph, the combination of the three weather systems resulted in 39 foot waves, which caused devastating coastal flooding. The storm was also responsible for the sinking of the Andrea Gail, a fishing boat that was the topic of Sebastian Junger best-selling novel "The Perfect Storm", along with a movie of the same name.
Forecasted wave height for Monday evening. The bright green contour is 16-20 feet, and the highest value is 45 feet offshore
A similar weather combination is expected with Hurricane Sandy. A winter storm moving in from the west is expected to collide with Sandy and a cold front late this weekend. When you add in Monday's full moon, tides that would normally rise during the lunar cycle are expected to be even higher because of the combination of weather events.
In addition to the expected coastal flooding and beach erosion caused by the high tides and storm surge, heavy rains are predicted to cause inland flooding as well. The predicted heavy rain is expected to not only cause flash flooding and flooding along streams and rivers, but also make the uprooting of trees much more likely due to the soft ground.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecaster Jim Cisco, has nicknamed Sandy "Frankenstorm", and is saying: "We don't have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting."
Expect rainfall totals associated with Hurricane Sandy.
City, state and federal officials are warning the public to be prepared for the potential of severe storms. Emergency officials are also preparing emergency contingency plans to deal with flooding, wind damage and widespread power outages. According to VOXXI, utility companies are also canceling employees' days off and have been contacting out-of-state work crews to assist with clean up.
Ready.gov provides a list of how to prepare for the storm. The Humane Society of the United States also provides a list of items needed to help keep pets safe during the storm.
Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the forecasting service Weather Underground, told the Huffington Post:
"It's looking like a very serious storm that could be historic. Mother Nature is not saying `trick-or-treat.' It's just going to give tricks."