The vanguard of Hurricane Sandy should arrive as rain, perhaps as early as Sunday morning. By later in the day and continuing through Tuesday, an abundance of rain will fall.
The rest of the mix will depend on Sandy’s inclination as the storm moves up the east coast over the Atlantic. The key question is where it decides to swing left into land. If it follows the same track that Hurricane Isabel took, just to the west of the Chesapeake Bay in 2003, it could marry with unusually high tides to cause unprecedented flooding.
If it doesn’t turn toward land until it reaches New York, the Washington area still will be doused with rain for hours on end.
That’s because Sandy is a bloated storm that spreads almost 300 miles from side to side, dropping up to a foot a rain across Caribbean islands while growing into a Category 2 hurricane.
While most storms hammer through within 24 hours, Sandy is on track to collide with another big storm, a northeaster, that has its own designs on New England and the Mid-Atlantic. As they wrestle each other for dominance, the hurricane will pummel the place where it has stalled.
Forecasters likened this brewing battle between two decidedly bad weather patterns to the Perfect Storm, a near legendary clash between titanic storms in the North Atlantic 21 years ago. It became infamous as the result of a book by Sebastian Junger and subsequent film of the same title.
On Thursday, The WashingtonPost’s Capital Weather Gang and other forecasters said Sandy could produce worse weather, and do it over a place inhabited by several million people rather than a handful of ships and fishing boats.
“It’s very rare to see a strong tropical system merge with such a strong winter-like trough of low pressure. Throw in a full moon, and the potential is there for a significant storm,” Charlotte meteorologist Brad Panovich posted on Facebook. “For those on the coast, don’t let the category of the storm or whether it’s ‘just’ a Nor’easter dictate your response. Your personal memories of previous storms are no use in this unique situation.”
Power companies, airports, rail lines and supermarkets made the usual steps to prepare for trouble.
Pepco, which provides electricity to the District and adjacent neighborhoods in Maryland, said it was mustering power crews and working with other power companies in the South and Mid-Atlantic networks to ensure that additional help could be summoned.
“One of the primary things we’re doing right now is watching the weather forecast to see where this thing is going,” said Myra Oppel, a Pepco spokeswoman. “That’s a critical thing at this point.”