Although it’s far too early to know the impact Hurricane Sandy will have on the Maritimes early next week, residents are, as always, being warned to remain alert and to monitor weather forecasts.
The impending storm, being dubbed by some as ‘Frankenstorm,’ is grabbing headlines for its immense size and the fact it’s expected to hit the populated east coast of the United States particularly hard.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre’s program manager provided a media briefing on Oct. 26, despite the fact the storm was still several days away from our coast.
“This is kind of early for a briefing here at the hurricane centre for a storm that’s still going to be so far away... But the storm is going to be so large we’ll probably feel some impact from it late Monday into Tuesday,” Bob Robichaud told reporters.
The complexity of the storm and its interaction with other weather features--including a tropical pressure system over the mid-west United States and a blocking area of high pressure over the Maritimes--makes this storm even more difficult to predict than most, Robichaud said.
However, forecast models have started to converge over the last few days. He said they seem to agree on a scenario that would bring the storm and its accompanying strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge into the mid-Atlantic states, somewhere in the New Jersey or New York area.
"If it stays south of New York, we (Canadians) might be looking at just a nasty fall day, but if that storm tracks a little bit further north, then we might be into some stronger winds that may have some additional effects,” Robichaud said.
While Robichaud stressed it was far too early to predict wind speed or rainfall amounts, he did say the chances of any Canadian provinces being impacted by snow was pretty low as we’ll be on the warm side of the storm.
But power outages could be a concern with the remaining tree foliage more apt to cause broken branches in high winds.
When asked to address how Hurricane Sandy compares to the destructive and historic ‘perfect storm’ of October, 1991, Robichaud said while the two are comparable, this storm is actually likely to affect more people.
“That storm was particularly large and this one is certainly on par with the size of that particular storm,” he said. “The only difference is this particular storm is actually going to affect more people on land than the perfect storm did.”
Residents in Yarmouth and along the south shore will likely be closer to the actual centre of the storm. Based on the current scenario, Yarmouth would probably get the strongest winds but not the heaviest rain.
“Again, it’s too early to talk about numbers, but any kind of jog towards the north of where that storm is going to cross the Atlantic coast could mean a big difference for Yarmouth, so especially people in that part of the Maritimes should pay attention to this storm,” Robichaud advised.
As of late Oct. 26, Hurricane Sandy was a Category 1 hurricane. It was expected to turn slightly towards the northwest and then towards the northeast before making a larger northwest turn early next week.
Given the storm’s size and unpredictability, residents throughout the Maritimes and parts of Quebec and Ontario are being urged to keep a close eye on local weather forecasts over the weekend and early into next week.
“I definitely think everyone in the Maritimes, certainly everyone in southern Quebec,and eastern and southern Ontario should be monitoring this storm very, very closely,” Robichaud said. “I know it’s a big area, but it just speaks to the actual size of this storm. This storm is a very huge storm by the time that it gets close to here.”