Hurricane Sandy: Freaky forecast prompts state of emergency declarations


A driver maneuvers his classic American car along a wet road as a wave crashes against the Malecon in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012. Forecast models are centering on a U.S. landfall between the Delmarva peninsula and Cape Cod. (Ramon Espinosa/AP)

“WHEREAS, The State of Maryland is subject to a variety of hazards or disasters including but not limited to severe storms, significant winter weather, tropical storm systems, hurricanes and other weather related events.”

Many a preamble to a disaster in Maryland has begun with one of the above: “A severe winter storm,” read the state’s declaration ahead of Snowmaggedon. “A great variety of hazard events,” warned Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) before Hurricane Irene.

But ‘frankenstorm,’ as some meteorologists have dubbed it, may have brought a first in the grab bag of unknowns thrown out to justify activating the state’ s National Guard: A winter storm is coming. A hurricane. Both. Combined? Who knows.

For the meteorological unknowns, the swirling mix of remnants of Hurricane Sandy and makings of a nor’easter that could wallop the mid-Atlantic (or not) has sent Maryland, Virginia and states up the Eastern Seaboard preparing for the worst – and urging residents to do the same.

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) declared a state of emergency Friday warning of an “extratropical” experience in the commonwealth that could stretch from Saturday into November.

The eastern third of Virginia could experience tropical storm force winds for more than 48 hours beginning Saturday night. There could be rain, flooding and significant rainfall there and inland. Power outages could be extensive. Western and southwestern Virginia could see snow. And by Halloween the entire state could be left shivering, with pockets waiting for the power to be restored.

In Maryland, the concerns continued. Beginning a day later, on Sunday, the state could experience heavy rain, strong winds, tidal flooding, trees falling, power outages, and surging storm waves on the coast.

Early voting in Maryland, which begins on Saturday and runs through Nov. 1, could also be interrupted, O’Malley said Friday. Under Maryland election law, the governor’s proclamation could allow the state to shift its early-voting schedule, or even to postpone the election in all or part of the state.

The governors office said it would monitor the storm, and it was too soon to speculate how the state’s voting schedule might be affected.

“As Hurricane Sandy makes its way north, I urge all Maryland residents to prepare for extreme weather,” O’Malley said Friday in issuing the state’s third disaster declaration of the year. “I urge all Marylanders to review their family emergency plans, make sure their emergency supplies like batteries and water are fully stocked and to stay informed.”

Maryland’s Emergency Management Agency went further with its list hurricane/winter storm recommendations:

— Pay attention to weather forecasts

— Prepare for power outages of several days

— Gather blankets; temperatures will be 20 degrees cooler after the storm.

— Don’t turn on generators in basements or garages, take them outside where ventilated

— Charge cell phones, and buy a car charger for your phone if you don’t have one.

— Secure loose items, like patio furniture and grills

— Store up on nonperishable food, medications, and water

— And, if you are driving in the storm or just after heavy rains and see standing water “do NOT drive through it. TURN AROUND. DON’T DROWN.”

Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.
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