Compounding the threat of the storm surge are higher tides than normal because of today's full moon. The combination of these factors had some warning that this year's water dump could be much worse than Hurricane Irene, which caused extensive damage in upstate New York and New England.
Upmanu Lall, a hydroclimatology specialist at Columbia University, said this year's storm brings "quite a big difference with last year" that could mean big trouble.
"The predicted storm surge could in certain areas be devastating," Lall said. "This one is a late-season hurricane, interacting with a nor'easter, so the potential for a strong rainfall is higher."
He added that power outages are most likely in New Jersey.
"Impacts in the N.J. areas in particular could be greater since they have overhead power lines, which are susceptible to high winds," he said.
Elsewhere, there was some talk of East Coast refineries closing down operations in southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Hess Corp. told Reuters it planned on cutting rates at its Port Reading, N.J., plant, and other operators around the Philadelphia area were closely watching the storm's path to determine their next move.
Last but not least, all meetings at the United Nations are canceled today. A media representative said the closure may extend through Tuesday.
Sullivan reported from New York City.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500.