(NEW YORK) — Meteorologists are predicting that Hurricane Sandy, now a category 1 storm, is turning into an “extra-tropical cyclone” that will hit a broad region with 50 mph winds and rain and storm surges as it barrels up the East Coast towards New York, in what some are calling the “storm of the century.”
Forecasters say that up to ten inches of rain turning into two feet of snow in higher altitude could hit the East Coast next week, and are warning that the track could still change as much as 200 miles.
“This storm has — it certainly has the potential to stand on its own. We are dealing with categories we don’t normally see here,” Dr. Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction said.
Uccellini said that it’s still too soon to tell who’s going to get hit — and how hard — as the storm moves back towards the East Coast, and that this storm has “some similarities” to the so-called “perfect storm” of 1991 that hit with massive waves and coastal flooding, killing 13.
[ PHOTO SLIDESHOW: EAST COAST PREPARES FOR HURRICANE SANDY ]
“There will be significant surge with this as the storm moves from the southeast to the northwest towards the coastline, and that’s going to become a very important part of the forecast for us as we near this event at the beginning part of the week,” he said.
By next week Sandy is expected to turn into a winter storm hybrid and could ravage the coast with tropical storm winds.
“This is not being overhyped. I would use the terms devastating and historic,” Accuweather’s Bernie Rayno said. “A one in 30 year storm, or even in the fact the way this storm is going to be tracking east toward the coastline in New Jersey, it could be a once-in-a-lifetime storm.”
New York City and northern regions in the eastern corridor are likely to be hit hard and forecasters are warning that the storm may linger for days as it covers a massive area. There is a 90 percent chance that on Monday the East Coast will take a direct hit, forecasters say.
President Obama directed FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to ensure that all available federal resources will be available to support state and local responders in potentially affected areas along the east coast as they prepare for the storm, according to a readout of the president’s briefing.
The entire system will weaken by the end of next week as is sits over the northeast, but strong winds and rain will remain across the region through next Friday.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Teresa Mull, Teton Valley News
Stephan Rockefeller, EastIdahoNews.com