MEMA Storm Update

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
Hurricane Sandy Situational Awareness Statement (SAS) #5

Date: October 26, 2012
Time: 3:30 PM

Hurricane Sandy, currently a Category 1 hurricane, has nearly passed the Bahamas and is projected to move northward off the eastern Florida and Carolina coasts tomorrow into Sunday morning. Current predictions by the National Hurricane Center show Sandy making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near the Delmarva Peninsula sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning, but National Weather Service (NWS) advises that a more northerly track for Sandy with a landfall as far north as New York or Connecticut remains very possible.
Given the large geographic size of Sandy, a landfall well south of New England could bring Massachusetts significant impacts including damaging winds, associated power outages, and freshwater and coastal flooding. A landfall closer to New England will bring even greater impacts to the region, with Massachusetts potentially experiencing a historic degree of freshwater and coastal flooding, significant beach erosion, wind damage, and associated widespread power outages. In this scenario, impact from Sandy could be comparable to or even worse than past events such as Tropical Storm Irene, Hurricane Bob, or the 1991 "Perfect Storm".

Potential impacts of Sandy include:

High Seas: Sandy is predicted to cause unusually high seas (25-30 feet or greater) off the coast of New England beginning Sunday and peaking Monday and Tuesday. Seas will be dangerous and potentially life-threatening, even for large vessels. Winds are expected to be at least gale to storm force with occasional hurricane force gusts.
Winds: Damaging winds and associated widespread power outages lasting several days or more are likely if Sandy makes landfall closer to Massachusetts. Wind damage will be exacerbated in southern New England as most trees still have foliage at this time of year. In a worst case scenario, Massachusetts could experience sustained 40-60 mph winds with gusts of 80mph or more.
Coastal Flooding: Both east- and south-facing coasts in southern New England have a high risk of minor to moderate coastal flooding beginning Monday high tide and lasting through Tuesday. Moderate to major coastal flooding (up to 4 to 6 feet of storm surge over and above normal tide levels) and significant beach erosion is possible if Sandy makes landfall closer to New England.
Rain/Flooding: While it is still too soon to determine where the heaviest rain will fall, confidence is rising that southern New England will see potentially flooding rainfall from Sandy. Rain could begin as early as Sunday and potentially last through mid-week. In a worst-case scenario, southern New England could receive as much as 5 to 8 inches or more of sustained rainfall. Areas at particular risk of flooding include the Worcester Hills and the eastern slope of the Berkshires.