NEWBURYPORT – Mother Nature must know Halloween is coming, because next week’s weather forecast looks awfully scary.
Hurricane Sandy is tracking north through the Bahamas and is expected to affect the Northeast early next week. Should the storm directly impact New England, it could be more damaging and destructive than Tropical Storm Irene was last year, experts say.
“It could be very powerful and has the potential for loss of life,” Charlie Foley, a spokesman from the National Weather Service, said. “We haven’t seen a storm like this in decades.”
What has meteorologists especially worried is the possibility that a Nor’easter moving in from the west could combine with Sandy, which would greatly intensify what is already a powerful storm.
At this point, it’s too early to predict the exact track of the storm. The latest computer models suggest the storm will make landfall somewhere in New Jersey just south of New York City late this weekend, but Foley said there’s a chance the storm could veer off and make landfall as far north as Maine.
“The consensus is that it’s going to either make landfall or brush very close in the coastal waters,” Foley said. “But this is such a large storm that whether or not it actually makes landfall, it will still have an impact that could be very powerful.”
Yesterday, Sandy was a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, with sustained winds of 105 miles per hour. The storm is expected to weaken as it moves north through the Atlantic, but could still bring hurricane-force winds and heavy flooding to the area, especially if it does merge with the westward-moving Nor’easter.
Foley said the storm could also bring high seas, 25-foot tall waves and widespread power outages. Some experts say the storm has the potential to be a billion-dollar disaster.