Hurricane Sandy strengthens as it heads toward Long Island, NY

Monday, October 29, 2012
By Paul Martin
October 29, 2012

NEW YORK – As Long Islanders hunkered down, Hurricane Sandy grew stronger and faster early Monday, bringing a “life-threatening storm surge” to the East Coast and the risk of hurricane-force winds to Suffolk County, forecasters said. Shortly before dawn, Freeport director of emergency management Richard Holdener said he was concerned that flooding in his South Shore community could be potentially “catastrophic.” Water was already “spilling over the bulkheads” of local canals Monday morning, more than one hour and 40 minutes before high tide at 8:41 a.m., Holdener said. At about 9:30 a.m. Freeport was 2 feet above flood stage. Holdener said he was fearful “tonight’s high tide will be one for the record books.” The National Weather Service warned of winds gusting up to 90 mph in Suffolk County and along a stretch of the Connecticut coast to the north. “Winds will be capable of downing trees and snapping off large tree branches,” a weather service advisory said. Sandy, in the meantime, started to move inland and continued to gain strength. By 8 a.m., Sandy was 265 miles southeast of Atlantic City and 310 miles south southeast of New York City, the National Weather Service said. Its maximum sustained winds had increased to 85 mph, up 10 mph from 2 a.m., and was moving inland north northwest toward south central New Jersey at 20 mph, an increase of 5 mph from its 5 a.m. speed, the National Weather Service said. And more strengthening is possible as Sandy transitions into “a wintertime low-pressure system” before landfall, the hurricane center said. The potentially historic storm is sure to bring significant coastal flooding, bursts of heavy rain and powerful winds that may reach hurricane strength on Long Island, forecasters said. President Barack Obama declared emergencies in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, authorizing federal relief work to begin well ahead of time, The Associated Pressreported. He promised the government would “respond big and respond fast” after the storm hits. Meteorologist David Stark of the National Weather Service said the hurricane’s increased force early Monday was expected, as the storm pushed inland and interacted with other systems. Stark said the combination of high winds, gusting to 85 mph in some instances, and coastal flooding made the hurricane a life-threatening event. One of the meteorologists on staff even provided his contact information, issuing a personal plea urging those who think the storm is “overhyped” to call and yell at him on Friday if it ends up not being as bad as they think. –Newsday

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