Hurricane Sandy, which closed businesses and airports in Jamaica as it moved north in the Caribbean, may strike the U.S. East Coast next week with the potential to cause millions of dollars in damage.
Sandy’s maximum sustained winds reached 105 miles (165 kilometers) per hour as it moved inland over southeastern Cuba, according to a U.S. National Hurricane Center advisory at 5 a.m. Eastern time. It was about 40 miles east of Holguin, Cuba, and moving north at 18 mph.
“The table is set for some pretty major weather,” Henry Margusity, an expert senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania, said yesterday. “Is it going to be an epic storm or is going to be just your typical nor’easter? We will have the answers next week.”
Sandy, a Category 2 system on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, is forecast to remain a hurricane as it moved through the Bahamas, according to the hurricane center. The storm may then move parallel to the U.S. East Coast and either be pushed into the Atlantic Ocean or pulled into the coastline.
A computer model based in Europe took the storm up Delaware Bay, while another by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had Sandy curve into Portland, Maine, Margusity said. Both events would take place early next week.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said residents should monitor the storm’s progress.
One of the major weather patterns determining where Sandy will end up is the North Atlantic Oscillation, which is currently blocking weather systems moving off the U.S. The system may turn Sandy into the U.S. coast, Margusity said.
A storm on that potential track may do millions in damage from downed trees, power outages and flooding, he said.
The storm is expected to dump up to 12 inches of rain on Haiti, the Dominican Republic and eastern Cuba, the Center said. As much as 3 inches of rain are possible over Florida.