Hurricane Sandy Coastal Surge Forecast Prompts Mass Evacuations

Hurricane Sandy, nicknamed “Frankenstorm,” is heading full force toward the Eastern seaboard, preparing to dump sheets of rain, high wind, and heavy snow on the East Coast next week.

Sandy is expected to affect up to 60 million people when it meets with two other powerful winter storms early next week, reports The Associated Press.

Officials are saying that it doesn’t matter how strong the hurricane is when it hits land, it will wreak havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes. Graig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, stated:

“This is not a coastal threat alone. This is a very large area.”

In preparation for the massive storm, New Jersey will close its casinos this weekend, while New York’s governor has considered shutting down the subways to avoid possible flooding.

Governors from North Carolina to Connecticut have declared states of emergency over the pending super storm. Voluntary evacuation orders have been sent out for most coastal areas, though they are not required.

Jeff Masters, director of the private service Weather Underground, stated that the storm is so dangerous because it is coming at the end of hurricane season and the beginning of winter storm season, “so it’s kind of taking something from both.”

Masters believes that the storm could be bigger than the 1938 New England hurricane, called the Long Island Express. The massive storm, which killed almost 800 people, is the worst East Coast storm on record.

The New York Times notes that, in preparation for the “Frankenstorm” convergence of Hurricane Sandy and two winter storms, state and local officials are ordering mandatory and voluntary evacuations between Delaware and Connecticut.

Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, spoke to reporters on Saturday afternoon. He stated, “There is no avoiding a significant storm surge event over a large area.”

National Weather Service officials in Mount Holly, New Jersey issued a flood warning Saturday evening, saying that a 10-to-12-foot storm tide is possible along the Atlantic Coast. The flood warning noted that the two high tides on Monday will be the most dangerous. The storm is predicted to bring such high tides in that New Jersey’s barrier islands may be completely cut off from the mainland during them.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell ordered 50,000 residents in Kent, New Castle, and Sussex counties to evacuate by Sunday evening, while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ordered the mandatory evacuation of barrier islands south of Point Pleasant, including Long Beach Island. He also ordered coastal towns from Atlantic City and Wildwood to Cape May to evacuate. Christie stated:

“Everyone’s saying ‘This is crap, it isn’t going to happen. The weathermen always get it wrong, so I’m just going to hang out here.’ Please don’t, O.K.? We have to be prepared for the worst here.”

Evacuations are also underway in Connecticut in preparation for “Frankenstorm” Hurricane Sandy’s landfall.