Statement From President Obama: TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY.
“So my main message to everybody involved is that we have to take this seriously. The federal government is working effectively with the state and local governments. It’s going to be very important that populations in all the impacted states take this seriously, listen to your state and local elected officials. My message to the governors, as well as to the mayors, is anything they need, we will be there. And we’re going to cut through red tape. We’re not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules. We want to make sure that we are anticipating and leaning forward into making sure that we’ve got the best possible response to what is going to be a big and messy system.” Remarks made by the President at the FEMA Headquarters, 10/28/12, 1:55 p.m. (published by the Wall Street Journal here)
Current Conditions/What To Expect
(From The Weather Channel) The light rain we’re getting now in the central Baltimore area will continue to increase over the next 12 hours, with it really picking up after 1 a.m. Temperatures will stay in the 50s, with winds increasing up to 30 mph by early morning.
Tomorrow (Monday) is when we will really begin to feel the effects of Sandy, with driving heavy rains with sustained winds between 30 and 50 mph. At 10 a.m., we will begin getting rain squalls with increased winds; then, by 4 p.m., the heavy rains really move into the area with sustained winds at 40+ mph. The forecast won’t change for the next 18 hours until mid-day Tuesday, when the winds begin to subside and the rain begins to lose a little of its intensity. The temperatures will be falling gradually into the mid- to low 40s.
After that, who knows? It is not out of the realm of possibility that a heavy, non-accumulating snow could creep east and wrap things up for us late Tuesday into Wednesday morning (Garrett County is under a blizzard warning through Tuesday night).
The bottom line is this: Whatever Sandy throws at us, it is going to be historic. The power of this storm is greater than Katrina, Andrew, and every other storm to hit the United States. New York (zone A) is being evacuated, and they could very well see the absolute worst-case scenario with storm surges and flooding. The potential for loss of life is too great to imagine, and we must all do everything possible to ensure the safety of our family members, our neighbors, and ourselves.
Here is the latest projected path of the storm, as of 8:00 p.m. today. In just a few hours, the storm is going to begin to make that sharp turn west toward the Mid-Atlantic shores. At that time, predictions of where exactly it will make landfall will be much more precise.
This will be my last update this evening. Amy and I plan on staying up tonight to see how the weather intensifies. I will post another update on Monday by 10:15 a.m., power permitting. If we do lose power before the next update, I hope everybody stays smart and supportive through this storm. We’ll get through this together!
Warnings In Effect
The following watches and warnings are currently in effect (National Weather Service):
- Coastal Flood Warning (Inland Worchester, Maryland Beaches): Exp. 10/30 @12 a.m.
- Flood Watch (Statewide): Exp. 10/30 @8 p.m.
- Coastal Flood Advisory and Watch (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Harford, Kent, Prince Georges, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Southern Baltimore, St. Marys, Talbot, Wicomico): Exp. 10/30 @12 a.m.
- High Wind Warning (Statewide): Exp. 10/30 @8 p.m.
- BLIZZARD Warning (Garrett): Exp. 10/30 @8 p.m.
The truth is, though, there are just too many to list. You can get the latest warnings and alerts specifically for your area from the National Weather Service here.
Update on School Closings
As of 8:00 p.m., all of the main school systems and universities have announced that they will be closed for at least tomorrow. Common sense tells us that, with the most intense segment of the storm to hit us Monday night into Tuesday, we can expect the same school systems and universities to be closed then as well. However, with the exception of Cecil County and Washington College (who have already canceled classes for Tuesday), we will just have to wait for confirmation from those individual school systems.
This is not your typical “snow day” by any means. Keep your phones charged and remember to stay in touch with loved ones at all times, especially during the height of the storm tomorrow.
You can get school closing updates from WBALTV.com, if you aren’t connected to any text-alert system for your your school or university.
The following locations have received evacuation notices:
Ocean City, MD has evacuated from 17th Street to the Inlet. All residents and business owners should already be evacuated. You can read the full evacuation notice here.
Delaware beaches have been evacuated, but some of the evacuation routes are already closed because of breaches in the sand dunes. You can read the full update here.
Havre de Grace residents should have evacuated by 7 p.m. You can read the full update here.
The threat of power outages will continue to increase as the storm moves into our area, primarily for three reasons:
- the winds will be unrelenting for at least 24 hours;
- the ground is already saturated; and
- trees will carry more weight with leaves still attached; in addition, the leaves act as wind-catchers and will cause more trees to become uprooted.
This is just one of the many reasons why the MVA is urging drivers to stay off Maryland roads during this storm. There is great unpredictability in where or when trees might come down, and whether they will be bringing power lines down with them. Downed wires do NOT need to be sparking to be live and deadly. Take no chances if you see downed wires in the road or in your yard.
All afternoon, the number of outages was very low (below 100); however, in the last 90 minutes, that number has started to increase, largely due to outages in Howard County. Currently, BGE is reporting 2,181 outages, with 2,302 restored since 10 a.m.:
- Anne Arundel: 3
- Baltimore: 32
- Baltimore City: 1
- Calvert: 0
- Carroll: 4
- Harford: 99
- Howard: 1,748
- Montgomery: 0
- Prince George’s: 292
You can check for power outage updates here; BGE does a great job of keeping these numbers updated every 15 minutes or so.
From Update #5: Is This The Worst Storm To Ever Hit The East Coast?
There is considerable discussion about the storm surge that will happen in the Chesapeake Bay region. Even without the storm heading straight up the Bay, the surge will be dangerous.
Massive and dangerous Hurricane Sandy has grown to record size as it barrels northeastwards along the North Carolina coast at 10 mph. At 8 am EDT, Sandy’s tropical storm-force winds extended northeastwards 520 miles from the center, and twelve-foot high seas covered a diameter of ocean 1,030 miles across. Since records of storm size began in 1988, only one tropical storm or hurricane has been larger–Tropical Storm Olga of 2001, which had a 690 mile radius of tropical storm-force winds when it was near Bermuda (note: I earlier reported this was a subtropical storm, as per the original NHC advisory, but it was later re-analyzed as a tropical storm.)
Sandy has put a colossal volume of ocean water in motion with its widespread and powerful winds, and the hurricane’s massive storm surge is already impacting the coast. A 2′ storm surge has been recorded at numerous locations this morning from Virginia to Connecticut, including a 3′ surge at Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and Sewells Point at 9 am EDT. Huge, 10 – 15 foot-high battering waves on top of the storm surge have washed over Highway 12 connecting North Carolina’s Outer Banks to the mainland at South Nags Head this morning. The highway is now impassable, and has been closed. The coast guard station on Cape Hatteras, NC, recorded sustained winds of 50 mph, gusting to 61 mph, at 5:53 am EDT this morning. In Delaware, the coastal highway Route 1 between Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach has been closed due to high water. Even though Sandy is a minimal Category 1 hurricane, its storm surge is extremely dangerous, and if you are in a low-lying area that is asked to evacuate, I strongly recommend that you leave.
Interesting stuff… Also:
WAMU 88.5 FM is reporting that the National Hurricane Center believes Sandy could be the worst storm to ever hit the east coast. You can read the full article here.
The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the National Weather Service believes every creek, stream, and river in Baltimore City and Baltimore County will be “out of its banks.” You can read the full article here.
Also From Update #5: Important Safety Reminders from Baltimore County Emergency Management Director Mark Hubbard
The following reminders, offered by Hubbard, were published in the Towson Patch:
- Citizens who live in flood-prone areas along the coast or along inland creeks and streams should consider relocating. Coastal flooding is predicted, but the severity is not known and emergency responders may not be able to rescue those living in these areas.
- Roads will flood. Officials are asking drivers to stay off the roads once the storm starts, but if you must drive, avoid driving through standing water.
- When traffic signals go out, the intersection should be treated as a four-way stop.
- Plans should be made immediately for family members who use power-dependent life-sustaining equipment.
- Generators should be placed outside, at least 15 feet from the house.
- Trees that fall on private property are the owner’s responsibility. Trees that fall on public property and roads are the county’s responsibility.
- Baltimore does not provide dry ice or sand bags. See the post from Oct. 26 about information about where to obtain dry ice.
Baltimore County officials will provide updates from Twitter at @BACOemergency.
You can read my piece, “Preparations Without The Panic,” Published in the Towson Patch here.
Important Numbers, Websites, And Social Media Sites To Know:
WBAL 1090 AM and wbal.com
— State road conditions: 511
— Bay Bridge: 877-BAYSPAN
— Emergency Operations Center to fully activate at noon Sunday
— Shelter: Annapolis High School (2700 Riva Road, Annapolis), opens 3 p.m. Sunday
— Annapolis Call Center: 410-260-2211 non-emergencies (to fully activate at noon Sunday)
— All four city garages will open at 3 p.m. free of charge to city residents during the storm: Hillman, Gotts, Knighton and Park Place.
— Emergency Operations Center to open at 7 a.m. Sunday
— Harford County “Hot-Line:” 410-838-5800 (Opens Sunday at 7 a.m.) non-emergencies
— Emergency Shelter: Patterson Mill High School (85 Patterson Mill Road, Bel Air) to open at 7 p.m. Sunday as a last resort for residents who have nowhere else to go
— Queen Anne’s County — Residents encouraged to voluntarily evacuate.
— Ocean City — Emergency Management: 410-723-6646