In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has activated the city's coastal storm plan, which it also relied on last year when Hurricane Irene struck, evacuating some low-lying parts of the city and shutting down its subway system.
"If this [Sandy] merges with another storm coming from the Ohio Valley, it has the potential to give you real weird weather, like snow, and a lot of rain and high winds," Bloomberg told TV station NY1 yesterday. "On the other hand, it might just go out to sea, and they just don't know. What we are doing is we are taking the kind of precautions you'd expect us to do, and I don't think anybody should panic."
During the past 161 years, just three hurricanes have passed within 200 miles of New York City during the month of October, according to National Hurricane Center records. The last time it happened was October 1894.
But the region has been slammed by its share of strong storms since then, including Irene, which caused an estimated $15.8 billion in damage as it traveled up the East Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As climate change intensifies, the frequency of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes -- categories 4 and 5 -- could double even as the total number of storms drops, according to a study published two years ago in the journal Science.
But a more immediate worry for communities in Sandy's path, forecasters said, will be power loss. The combination of heavy rain, high winds and trees still laden with leaves could spell trouble for power companies, Feltgen said.
"There are a lot of leaves on the trees right now, so the first thing that could go would be the power," he said.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500