NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Hurricane Sandy barrels towards East Coast, bringing commerce and travel to a halt

One of the most destruc­tive storms ever to threat­en the Unit­ed States is hours away from slam­ming into the Atlantic seaboard, mete­o­rol­o­gists are warning.

Hur­ri­cane Sandy, which has already killed dozens of peo­ple in the Car­ribbean, is pro­ject­ed to make land­fall some­time tomor­row evening between the Chesa­peake and the mouth of the Hud­son Riv­er. The hur­ri­cane — or what’s left of it after it hits the mid-Atlantic states — is expect­ed to col­lide with a cou­ple of oth­er weath­er sys­tems as the week gets going, cre­at­ing a mon­ster tem­pest that mete­o­rol­o­gists are dub­bing “Franken­storm” or “the Hur’easter”.

The lat­est out­look pro­vid­ed by the Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice is pret­ty grim.

AT 1100 PM EDT…0300 UTC…THE CENTER OF HURRICANE SANDY WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 34.5 NORTH…LONGITUDE 70.5 WEST. SANDY IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHEAST NEAR 14 MPH…22 KM/H. A TURN TOWARD THE NORTH IS EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS…WITH A TURN TOWARD THE NORTHWEST EXPECTED ON MONDAY. ON THE FORECAST TRACK… THE CENTER OF SANDY WILL MOVE OVER THE COAST OF THE MID-ATLANTIC STATES LATE MONDAY OR MONDAY NIGHT.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 75 MPH…120 KM/H…WITH HIGHER GUSTS. SANDY IS EXPECTED TO TRANSITION INTO A FRONTAL OR WINTERTIME LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM PRIOR TO LANDFALL. HOWEVER…THIS TRANSITION WILL NOT BE ACCOMPANIED BY A WEAKENING OF THE SYSTEM…AND IN FACT…A LITTLE STRENGTHENING IS POSSIBLE DURING THIS PROCESS. SANDY IS EXPECTED TO WEAKEN AFTER MOVING INLAND.

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 175 MILES… 280 KM…MAINLY TO THE SOUTHWEST OF THE CENTER…AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 520 MILES…835 KM. A NATIONAL OCEAN SERVICE STATION AT THE WILLOUGHBY DEGAUSSING STATION NEAR NORFOLK NAVAL STATION VIRGINIA RECENTLY REPORTED SUSTAINED WINDS OF 45 MPH…72 KM/H…WITH A GUST TO 53 MPH…85 KM/H. A WEATHERFLOW STATION AT THIMBLE SHOALS VIRGINIA RECENTLY REPORTED SUSTAINED WINDS OF 44 MPH…70 KM/H…AND A WIND GUST OF 52 MPH…83 KM/H.

Coastal areas can expect to expe­ri­ence dan­ger­ous winds, heavy rain­fall, and surf-relat­ed flood­ing. Areas fur­ther inland, like the Appalachi­an moun­tains, may see sub­stan­tial snow­fall accom­pa­nied by strong winds.

In an effort to save lives and prop­er­ty, gov­er­nors up and down the coast have declared states of emer­gency, mobi­lized the Nation­al Guard, and insti­tut­ed manda­to­ry evac­u­a­tion orders for low-lying areas.

Pub­lic trans­porta­tion has already ground to a halt, strand­ing thou­sands.

New York’s MTA has stopped run­ning  the city’s sub­ways, bus­es, and com­muter trains, while D.C. author­i­ties have sus­pend­ed Metro ser­vice. New Jer­sey Tran­sit is also imple­ment­ing a sys­tem-wide shutdown.

Air­lines have already can­celled more than four thou­sand flights in and out of major air­ports like JFK, LaGuardia, Newark Lib­er­ty, Dulles, Rea­gan Nation­al, and Baltimore/Washington. Amtrak, mean­while, has can­celled all ser­vice in the North­east Cor­ri­dor, includ­ing its pop­u­lar Acela Express and North­east Region­al trains.

Inter­ci­ty bus ser­vice is also affect­ed. Grey­hound has announced it will not serve major cities such as Atlantic City, Bal­ti­more, New York, Rich­mond, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, or Ocean City. Peter Pan has can­celled all of its ser­vice.

Schools in New York, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, New Jer­sey, and oth­er affect­ed states will be closed as well. With pub­lic trans­porta­tion shut down, many busi­ness­es are fol­low­ing suit. Restau­rants across the region are closed and major employ­ers are telling their work­ers to stay home.

FedEx and UPS are warn­ing that their oper­a­tions may be severe­ly cur­tailed by the hur­ri­cane. The U.S. Postal Ser­vice is also warn­ing of ser­vice dis­rup­tions.

The New York Stock Exchange will be com­plete­ly closed for the first time since the Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks. NYSE Euronext, which runs the exchange, had ini­tial­ly planned to only close the trad­ing floor, per­mit­ting elec­tron­ic trad­ing to take place. But now NYSE has decid­ed not to open at all.

Insur­ance com­pa­nies, mean­while, are ready­ing response teams and hop­ing the impact will be lighter than what has been foreast.

Author­i­ties con­tin­ue to plead with peo­ple who are in evac­u­a­tion zones to get out.

“If you are reluc­tant [to evac­u­ate], think about your loved ones, think about the emer­gency respon­ders who will be unable to reach you when you make the pan­icked phone call to be res­cued, think about the rescue/recovery teams who will res­cue you if you are injured or recov­er your remains if you do not sur­vive,” Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice per­son­nel in New Jer­sey warned.

What many peo­ple may not have heard — or may not under­stand — is that Sandy is not expect­ed to weak­en when it makes land­fall.

Instead, it is pro­ject­ed to linger, thrash­ing the coast and caus­ing immense dam­age to infra­struc­ture and property.

NASA has been track­ing Hur­ri­cane Sandy from space and has some sober­ing images. Take a look at the size of this storm. It’s huge:

Image of Hurricane Sandy on October 28th, 2012

NOAA’s GOES-13 satel­lite cap­tured this vis­i­ble image of the mas­sive Hur­ri­cane Sandy on Oct. 28 at 1302 UTC (9:02 a.m. EDT). The line of clouds from the Gulf of Mex­i­co north are asso­ci­at­ed with the cold front that Sandy is merg­ing with. Sandy’s west­ern cloud edge is already over the mid-Atlantic and north­east­ern Unit­ed States. (Pho­to and expla­na­tion: NASA GOES Project)

Con­necti­cut Gov­er­nor Dan­nel Mal­loy was blunt in a press brief­ing ear­li­er today about the sever­i­ty and destruc­tive pow­er of the storm.

“This is the largest threat to human life this state has expe­ri­enced in anyone’s life­time,” he said. “This is not a joke. This is a real warn­ing of pos­si­ble death by drowning.”

“The last time we saw any­thing like this was nev­er,” he added.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma has wast­ed lit­tle time in autho­riz­ing fed­er­al assis­tance. He has signed emer­gency dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tions for more than half a dozen states. FEMA Admin­is­tra­tor Craig Fugate is serv­ing as the admin­is­tra­tion’s point person.

Unlike Bush appointee Michael Brown, who resigned in dis­grace after the botched response to Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na, Fugate has expe­ri­ence prepar­ing for and respond­ing to dis­as­ters. He used to run Flori­da’s equiv­a­lent of FEMA and is high­ly regarded.

“As con­di­tions wors­en along the Mid-Atlantic and oth­er parts of the East Coast, res­i­dents need to lis­ten to the direc­tion of local offi­cials,” Fugate said in a mes­sage to the Amer­i­can peo­ple. “This is a large storm and the poten­tial impacts from wind, coastal flood­ing, inland flood­ing, rain and snow will affect many states.  If you’re on the coast, it’s time to act and fol­low evac­u­a­tion orders. If you’re inland, now is the time to make final prepa­ra­tions.  Be ready for pow­er out­ages and stock up on emer­gency sup­plies of food, water, med­ica­tions, and oth­er supplies.”

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for your cov­er­age of Hur­ri­cane Sandy. 

    # by Tyler Shea :: October 29th, 2012 at 8:21 AM