“This is a beyond-strange situation. It’s unprecedented and bizarre,” the Weather Channel’s Brian Norcross posted on his Facebook page.
The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang warned that “this storm may be unlike anything the region has ever experienced.”
Even as the East Coast braced for Sandy’s arrival, the storm began to affect the U.S. presidential race Friday. The campaign of Republican candidate Mitt Romney announced the cancellation of a planned Sunday night rally in Virginia Beach because of the hurricane.
President Obama received an update on Sandy from Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb and homeland security adviser John O. Brennan. Obama directed FEMA to ensure that all available federal resources are being brought to bear to support state and local responders, the White House said.
“At the request of states, FEMA is proactively deploying Incident Management Assistance Teams to multiple states up and down the Eastern Seaboard to assist efforts as state and local partners prepare for the storm,” a White House statement said.
Hurricane Sandy blasted the Bahamas on Friday after raging through the Caribbean, killing at least 29, wire services reported. Forecasters said it is too early to know whether the storm would pass directly over land in the mid-Atlantic or veer out to sea — and too soon to gauge how quickly it would arrive in the Washington region. But with the nor’easter expected to bear down at about the same time, most predictions were that the impact would be significant.
With the Marine Corps Marathon planned for Sunday, followed three days later by Halloween, the potential for major disruptions seemed significant.
The monster clash of storm systems, dubbed “Frankenstorm” by some forecasters, could be the worst to hit the northeastern United States in a century if the dire predictions prove accurate.
The District government has activated its hurricane plan, placing workers in the Department of Public Works and the Department of Transportation on notice for deployment on Sunday, said Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Vincent C. Gray.
City officials were staying in close communication with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Ribeiro said. “It’s not a matter of whether we’ll get hit; it’s a matter of how severe we’ll get hit.”
PEPCO scheduled a briefing at 1 p.m. at its control center in Bethesda to describe preparations for dealing with downed trees and power lines and other potential power outage hazards.