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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 10/29/2012

A strengthened Hurricane Sandy heads toward shore as conditions deteriorate on East Coast

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Hurricane Sandy is seen off the coast shortly after 9 a.m. this morning. (NASA)

12:00 p.m.: An update to the Sandy Local Statement from the NWS details the time of strongest winds in the area:

HURRICANE FORCE WIND GUSTS OF 70 AND POSSIBLY 80 MPH ARE EXPECTED TO IMPACT A REGION LOCATED BETWEEN BEL AIR MD...POINT LOOKOUT MD...AND HAGERSTOWN MD BETWEEN 6 PM THIS EVENING TO 6 AM TUESDAY. THIS INCLUDES THE GREATER BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREAS.

11:05 a.m.: As expected, Sandy’s sustained winds have been bumped up to 90 mph and its central pressure has reached 943 mb. The storm continues to strengthen. Reports are coming in that much of Atlantic City is underwater and that this could be worse than the Ash Wednesday storm of 1962.

From 10:01 a.m.: Hurricane Sandy is headed toward the coast, and impacts across the D.C. area are growing. So far this morning, the main story locally is heavy rain and reports of standing water or localized flooding. The 1-2” that has fallen in the immediate area is just the start. The most recent projection from NOAA shows 6 to 7 inches of rain across the region.

Additionally, winds are increasing. Gusts as high as 30-40 mph are now pushing into the area and this will step up markedly heading into the afternoon and evening. Last hour, D.C. reported a wind gust to 36 mph, the strongest so far — nearing a point where light tree and other damage occurs with more ease. It will get much worse with gusts possibly doubling during the evening or night.

Sandy is stronger than it was last night, thanks to another deepening phase. However, if you look at it closely, it doesn’t resemble your typical hurricane. That’s because the storm transition is well underway. Our hurricane expert Brian McNoldy notes: “It actually has a warm front forming off to its east and a cold front to its south… a sign that it’s transitioning to an extratropical or mid-latitude cyclone.”

The fact that Sandy is losing tropical characteristics does not make it any less of a threat. As we’ve stated for days, this storm is humongous and full of wind, waves, surge and rain. Waves are already taking their toll, with places like Ocean City seeing piers destroyed. Sustained winds with the storm may even continue to increase before landfall, or at least hold steady. There are also signs that the storm continues to strengthen.

Sandy is not just large, but it has in­cred­ibly low pressure readings. The last advisory showed it to be at 946 mb (27.93”). This has already tied the Long Island Express of 1938 for the lowest pressure from a tropical system north of Cape Hatteras, NC. Plotted against all other storms in the Atlantic tropical database, Sandy is truly a rare one. ­­

Before you lose power (hopefully not, but it appears many will), check out the U.S. wind map today. It’s pretty amazing!

By  |  12:00 PM ET, 10/29/2012

 
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