A “high-impact’’ hurricane that ripped through Cuba this morning is headed for the United States and could leave as much as a billion dollars in damages all the way from the Carolinas through Maine.
Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy is on track to slam the East Coast with a devastating mix of high winds, heavy rains and massive flooding as early as this weekend.
“The potential exists for the unusually moist air from Sandy to collide with this cold air from Canada and unleash the heaviest October rains ever recorded in the Northeast United States,’’ said Dr. Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground forecasting website.
“This Northeast United States scenario would probably cause damages near $100 million.’’
Masters said if the hurricane hits the mid-Atlantic states, it “would likely be a billion-dollar disaster.
“In this scenario, Sandy would be able to bring sustained winds near hurricane force over a wide stretch of heavily-populated coast, causing massive power outages, as trees still in leaf fall and take out power lines.’’
Sandy began picking up strength in Jamaica and rammed southeastern Cuba with punishing 105-mph winds early today. The force of the wind blew down power lines, ripped the roofs off of houses and uprooted countless trees.
The death toll now stands at three, with fatalities in Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti.
If Sandy hits the Northeast, New York and Boston could end up suffering substantial damage.
“It's going to be a high-impact event," Bob Oravec of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hydro-Meteorological Prediction Center in Maryland told Reuters.
"It has the potential to be a very significant storm with respect to coastal flooding, depending on exactly where it comes in. Power outages are definitely a big threat.’’
Florida's Atlantic coast is expected to be hit with high winds and rain beginning tonight.
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