“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.”
In a worst-case scenario, the monster clash of storm systems, dubbed “Frankenstorm” by some forecasters, could be the worst to hit the northeastern United States in a century, affecting 60 million people and causing billions of dollars in damage.
“Sandy will not be your typical hurricane,” AccuWeather reported. “Sandy will be more like a large nor’easter on steroids. It could have the strength of a Category 1 or 2 hurricane. Tropical storm and hurricane-force wind gusts will extend out hundreds of miles from the center.”
The private forecasting firm said the storm’s worst effects would come Monday through Tuesday and that damaging wind gusts would reach from Boston to Washington and inland to the central Appalachians.
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.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) declared a state of emergency and warned that the onslaught could have an impact on early voting ahead of the Nov. 6 elections. Early voting in Maryland is scheduled to take place between Oct. 27 and Nov. 1.
For now, early voting in Maryland will continue this weekend, said Margie Roher, a spokeswoman for Montgomery County’s election board. O’Malley and the state elections board can jointly decide to change the early voting schedule, but that wouldn’t occur until the storm hits, Roher said.
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.