NEW YORK -- The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season has been very quiet this year—until now.
Hurricane Sandy is lashing the Caribbean, and has the potential to become a super storm for the eastern United States next week.
Sandy made landfall in Cuba overnight as a Category 2 storm with top winds of 114 miles an hour. The hurricane is blamed for at least two deaths in the region.
The hurricane slammed directly into the island of Jamaica, crashing a boulder into a man’s clapboard house and taking his life. Skirting past Haiti, the heavy downpour swelled a river, sweeping away a woman as she tried to cross it.
High winds and rough surf are already pressing the South Florida coast, but if Sandy continues to grow, the Sunshine State may see tropical storm winds as early as Thursday night.
David Bernard, chief meteorologist for CBS News’ Miami station CBS 4, is watching Sandy. He said on “CBS This Morning,” “Overnight this storm got really strong. The pictures from the Caribbean and Cuba just prove that. ... We’re talking about a Category 2 storm. It’s emerging from the Cuban coastline now. It’s about 185 miles south of the Central Bahamas and the thinking is today, tonight and tomorrow the storm is going to maintain hurricane intensity as it moves through the Bahamas. That’s why we could see these tropical storm force conditions in South Florida, but beyond that as we go into the weekend, we’ll look for this storm to continue to parallel the East Coast, and possibly be somewhere off of the New England or northeast coastline maybe just east of the Delmarva (Peninsula) as well, Sunday night into Monday and that’s when things could definitely get tricky.”
“We’re talking about a confluence of events,” Bernard said. “We have a powerful hurricane ... in the Bahamas. That’s a lot of warm air, a lot of heat, a lot of energy and of course we’re deep into fall now and we have an unusual strong jet stream dip with winter-like cold air, and you put those two things together, that’s the possibility that is on the weather maps right now and that could lead to a powerhouse low pressure forming Sunday and Monday. So you would have storm-force winds, coastal flooding, very heavy inland snows could be possible through parts of Appalachians into western Pennsylvania and with that heavy snow and strong winds at the coast we could be looking at significant power outages as well. So it’s kind of the worst of everything coming together, winter and what the tropical season has to offer. There is still the possibility this low stays out to sea, but right now we’re thinking there’s a pretty good chance there could be some impact.”
The worst-case scenario would be if the storm sits off the coast and then backs from the ocean into land. He said, “We saw a similar thing with a perfect storm in 1991 how it moved from east to west into portions of New England, we could see something similar with this.”