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Posted at 09:15 AM ET, 10/29/2012

D.C. area forecast: Sandy ready to power slam the nation’s capital; downed trees, dangerous travel and power outages likely

(originally posted at 4 a.m., updated at 6:45 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.)

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9:15 a.m. update: Sandy is showing signs of transitioning from a hurricane into a hurricane-nor’easter hybrid but it continues to intensify. It has started to make its turn towards the coast. Rainfall is picking up throughout the region and flood warnings have been issued for Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties through 3 p.m. Some rainfall rates have reached 2 inches per hour. Moderate to heavy rain will continue through the morning with winds steadily building.

6:45 a.m. update: Hurricane Sandy strengthened overnight, with maximum sustained winds now to 85 mph. It is positioned about 285 miles (just north of) east of Cape Hatteras and moving due north at 15 mph, but will soon start a turn west-northwest towards the coast.

Its pressure is down to 946 mb, making it tied (with the 1938 Long Island hurricane) for the lowest pressure ever recorded north of Cape Hatteras.

Rain has overspread the entire metro region, with heavy rain along and east of I-95. Heaviest rainfall totals so far (in the area) have been in the counties on the west side of the Bay, where 1-2” has already fallen. Winds, so far, are not too bad, sustained at around 20 mph, with some gusts over 30 mph in the region, highest east. They will steadily pick up this morning and become dangerous this afternoon. Follow our live blog for the latest updates as well as our Twitter feed.

EXPRESS FORECAST

Today: Rain becomes heavy with damaging wind gusts to near 45-60 mph. Upper 40s to near 50. | Tonight: Heavy rain with damaging wind gusts to near 65-70 mph early. Rain and wind relent a bit overnight. Near 40. | Tomorrow: Periods of rain with wind gusts to near 50 mph. Mid-to-upper 40s. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail

TODAY'S DAILY DIGIT

A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10


Nasty morning and dangerous afternoon. Nothin’ to do but hunker down and hope you somehow keep power. Get the Digit on Twitter | Discuss on Facebook

FORECAST IN DETAIL


At this point it’s pretty simple. Don’t go out if you don’t need to today. If you have to get somewhere this morning, it won’t be pleasant but you probably can if you’re careful. By around mid-afternoon, it becomes life-threatening. By now you should have your flashlights ready and cell phones charged. Many of us may lose power, and may not get it back for multiple days. Incredibly, we’ve been through this once before already this year, and we’ll get through it again.


Radar & lightning: Latest D.C. area radar shows movement of precipitation and lightning strikes over past two hours. Refresh page to update. Click here or on image to enlarge. Or see radar bigger on our Weather Wall.

Today (Monday): Rain becomes heavier from east to west during the morning as winds blow from the northwest around 25-35 mph sustained, gusting to near 45 mph. If you must go out during the morning, please be careful. As we get into the mid-and-late afternoon, rain is heavy everywhere and sustained winds ratchet up to 35-45 mph with gusts to near 60 mph. Travel is strongly discouraged as falling trees become a threat to vehicles. Temperatures are mainly steady through the day, in the upper 40s to near 50. Rain totals by evening should range from 2-5” (lower end of range west, higher end east; locally higher and lower totals are always possible). Flooding of creeks, streams and rivers is expected. Confidence: Medium-High

Related: Detailed storm timeline, maps and frequent questions

Wind gusts: Latest D.C. area wind gusts (mph). See more maps on our Weather Wall.

Tonight: Rain remains heavy during the evening and winds are just as bad as during the day, maybe even a little worse, sustained at 35-50 mph from the west with gusts to around 65-70 mph. Both the rain and wind may relent a bit after midnight, with sustained winds and gusts decreasing by about 10-15 mph, as the relatively calmer eye tracks just to our north. Get the blankets ready in case you lose power, as temperatures will drop through the 40s to near 40. We could even see some snowflakes in Frederick and western Loudoun counties, though accumulation isn’t likely. An additional 1-2”of rain is expected with locally higher and lower amounts possible. Flooding of creeks, streams and rivers will continue to be a threat. Confidence: Medium-High

For related traffic news, check out Dr. Gridlock. Keep reading for the forecast through the week...

Tomorrow (Tuesday): We’re still very windy with periods of rain on Tuesday. Sustained winds blow from the southwest at 25-35 mph with gusts to near 50 mph. So not quite as bad as Monday, but bad enough that trees could still come down and most clean-up activities will have to wait another day. Highs only top out in the mid-to-upper 40s. Rainfall should be less than a half-inch, bringing storm totals to the 4-7” range (locally higher totals are possible especially east and northeast of town, and locally lower totals are possible especially southwest of the city). Flooding of creeks, streams and rivers will still be a concern. Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow night: Lingering showers are likely but shouldn’t be too heavy. Winds come down a bit but are still capable of blowing around debris, sustained near 20-30 mph from the south with gusts of 30-40 mph. It’s a chilly night for those without power, with lows mainly in the upper 30s to low 40s. Confidence: Medium

A LOOK AHEAD

The clean-up begins Wednesday even though it’s still rather breezy with a 30% chance of a shower or two. Winds should be from the west around 15-25 mph with some gusts to 30-35 mph. Skies stay mostly cloudy as highs make it into the 50s. A small chance of a shower Wednesday night with winds down to 10-20 mph and gusts near 25 mph. Lows range from near 40 to the mid-40s. Confidence: Medium

Wind should no longer be a significant factor Thursday through Sunday. After lingering clouds and a chance of a shower Thursday, Friday through Sunday features increasing sun with little to no chance of rain. Highs should find their way to the mid-to-upper 50s, except maybe near 60 on Sunday. Overnight lows dip to the upper 30s to low 40s. Confidence: Low-Medium

By  |  09:15 AM ET, 10/29/2012

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