Sandy Brings Hurricane-Force Gusts to U.S. East Coast

Hurricane Sandy May Push Record Storm Surge Into Manhattan
Metropolitan Transit Authority workers lay down plywood over subway grates at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal to prevent flooding in New York. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

Sandy, now a powerful wintry storm, made landfall along the coast of southern New Jersey, battering New York with hurricane-force wind gusts.

The system came ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey, at 8 p.m. New York time, and by 9 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said it was receiving reports of hurricane-force wind gusts over Long Island and the New York metropolitan areas. Sandy is no longer a hurricane because it’s drawing energy from temperature differences and not the ocean, making the transition to a superstorm that may push a wall of water ashore in the Northeast and lash the East with wind, rain and snow.

As of 9 p.m. Eastern time, Sandy was 15 miles (24 kilometers) northwest of Atlantic City, moving west-northwest at 21 miles per hour with top sustained winds of 80 mph. It’s forecast to turn north by tomorrow and cross through Pennsylvania to reach New York on Oct. 31, the center said.

Rains are soaking the mid-Atlantic states, 3 feet (0.9 meters) of snow may fall in the Appalachians and a record-breaking storm surge may wash over Manhattan’s Battery Park.

Sandy’s winds had stretched to about 1,100 miles from end to end earlier today, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was the largest tropical system on record, forecasters said. A wind gust to 79 mph was reported at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and another to 90 mph was reported at Islip, New York, the center said in the 9 p.m. Eastern time advisory.

Storm Tides

Tides along the coast will be near their peak when the storm goes ashore, which may mean record amounts of water washing onto land, according to Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“These may be the highest storm tides ever recorded going back a century,” Masters said by telephone. “We’re looking, potentially, at a very expensive disaster for New York City.”

Sandy is so large that the storm will be felt along the East Coast from Maine to Virginia, Masters said.

“The timing certainly matters, but the location isn’t that important because some of the strongest winds are quite a ways removed from the center,” Masters said. “It’s a superstorm, it’s aptly named in terms of its size, its low central pressure, the weird angle it’s taking, the lateness of the season.”

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