As Sandy surges toward Philly area, National Weather Service says prepare for worst

A serious storm heading this way just before Halloween has been dubbed the “Frankenstorm” for the monstrous mix of high winds, heavy rains and surging tides it could unleash in the region.

Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy could combine with a second storm, bringing the East Coast high wind and heavy rain. Valerie Meola, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., said people should prepare for the worst-case scenario.

“We’re looking at 30- to 50-mph winds in the Philadelphia area with hurricane-force gusts, which would be around 75 miles or greater,” Meola said. “We’re looking at storm surges up the Delaware Bay which would impact the Delaware River. Everyone should be prepared for three to six inches of rain or more as the storm moves through.”

Meola said that with a full moon on Monday, the tides already will be higher than normal, so tidal concerns will be a big issue along the shore.

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“Along the Jersey coastline, we’re expecting 50- to 70-mph sustained winds. There could be some higher gusts in there as well,” she said.

Those powerful winds are expected to accompany a tidal surge that could be four to six feet above normal coming up the Delaware Bay and along the South Jersey coast.

Track the storm and predicted flooding areas online.

Preparations in New Jersey

On Friday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie directed his cabinet to get ready for a coordinated response to the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy.

Meanwhile those who live and work near the Jersey Shore were busy Friday preparing for the storm.

While some boats were still going out into the Atlantic from the Manasquan Inlet, others were heading for land.

Jim Matthews, who owns the fishing trawler “Jamie Mae,” tied the boat up to the dock in Point Pleasant Beach until the storm goes by Monday or Tuesday.

“The surge is what breaks things, you know, the back and forth. As long as you got enough ropes to keep the boats from moving you should be all right,” Matthews said. “We have been in other good storms. So I’m not really concerned about it right now.”

Point Pleasant Beach municipal workers were installing silt fences on the beach to prevent sand from washing up on the boardwalk.

“We did get off pretty easy for Irene,” said Jim Trout, superintendent of public works. “And my gut tells me, and I suspect, we’ll get off just as easy this time. But there’s nothing wrong with being over prepared.”

Residents who live near the ocean were securing outside furniture and decorations — and are hoping the storm won’t force them to leave home.

Sue Kellers, who has lived less than a block from the ocean in Point Pleasant Beach for more than 60 years, says storms are part of the allure of living at the shore.

“As beautiful as it is, you can hear the waves crashing and it’s just a force of nature that can’t be controlled,” she said. “So living through that, hopefully, is exciting.”

Meola said it’s too early to project flooding from creeks and rivers. The worst of the storm will arrive in the Philadelphia area Monday and Tuesday. 

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