Much of the East Coast has a good chance of getting blasted by gale-force winds, flooding, heavy rain and maybe even snow as early as Sunday by an unusual hybrid of hurricane and winter storm, forecasters said.
Though still projecting several days ahead of Halloween week, the computer models are spooking meteorologists. Government scientists said Wednesday the storm has a 70 percent chance of smacking the Northeast and mid-Atlantic.
David Stark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the severity of the storm depends on the route of the hurricane.
“If the track of this system, as it gets to the coast, is closer, then yeah, there will definitely be more rain, wind and potential for coastal flooding and things like that, but how much that's all going to be determined on the track,” Stark said.
The Office of Emergency Management situation room is now open, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said they are monitoring the progress of the storm. "We saw that hurricanes like Irene can really do damage and we have to take them seriously, but we don't expect based on current forecasts to have anything like that," Bloomberg said. "But we're going to make sure we're prepared."
He advised residents in flood-prone areas be prepared to evacuate. The mayor said on Saturday the city will have more information about the storm, which is expected to linger in the area until Wednesday.
MTA Chief Joe Lhota said the MTA has met twice already and discussed what to do if waters rise in Lower Manhattan. Lhota said shutting down the MTA during Hurricane Irene was a good exercise for the authority, but doesn't expect Hurricane Sandy will warrant that. "I don't think we're looking at anything like that for what's happening next week, but we are going to have, all indications are, a pretty brutal nor'easter."
A forecaster with NOAA said the storm will impact the entire East Coast, from Florida to Maine.
Stephen Nessen contributed reporting.