At 8 a.m. Sunday, the storm was about 260 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., moving at about 10 mph, the National Hurricane Center reported.
Meteorologists said Sandy could still uncoil with the force of a hurricane, as it merges with a jet stream and a nor’easter, triggering what is likely to be several days of destruction on its northern path through eight states.
Two weather forecasting models have agreed that the storm likely will reach shore somewhere between the Delmarva Peninsula and Rhode Island. And it is no longer a question of whether the Washington region will get hit, but of how badly.
“At this point there are essentially two scenarios for the area: a worst case scenario (less likely) and a very bad scenario (more likely) — but the differences between the scenarios are not significant for most of us,” according to Jason Samenow, meteorologist with The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.
Samenow said the worst of the storm is expected to hit Monday into Tuesday, bring 3 to 6 inches of rain and winds of 25 to 45 mph. If the storm makes landfall north of the District, there could be major coastal flooding for Maryland and Delaware beaches but less damaging winds. If the region takes a direct hit, Samenow said “historic coastal flooding” could occur along the beaches. The region could also see hurricane force wind gusts over a 48 hour period, he said.
As Saturday’s bright sun and warm temperatures made the prospect of an epic storm more difficult to imagine, rain was still forecast for Sunday, a lead up for Sandy’s arrival.
The governors of Maryland and Virginia already have declared states of emergency, as has District Mayor Vincent Gray. Flood watches were issued in the District, as well as in Anne Arundel, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s, Arlington and Falls Church counties. A coastal flood watch was issued for all of Maryland’s beaches, as well as Virginia Beach.
Wilmington, Del., Mayor James M. Baker has issued a mandatory evacuation of the southeastern section of the city and has declared a state of emergency. The evacuation order applies to about 3,000 residents who live in a flood plain area of the city. Baker said Saturday he wants to give residents affected by the order time to make arrangements to stay with family and friends. Transportation will be provided until 6 p.m. Sunday for those who need it.
Ocean City, Md. officials asked those who planned visits to the beach to postpone them. The city is expecting at least 10 inches of rain and flooding in low-lying areas.
The region’s utility providers called on companies outside the area to send as much help as possible. Dominion Virginia Power asked to borrow 2,000 workers, while Pepco asked for 2,500 to be sent to the District and Maryland. Pepco warned that hundreds of thousands of customers may lose power if the storm hits the area as expected.