Hurricane Sandy Threatens US East Coast

Hurricane Sandy destroyed this home in the city of Cueto in eastern Cuba.

Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall along the U.S. East Coast either Monday or Tuesday.

And forecasters say it could combine with another storm that’s expected to move into the Atlantic Ocean from the U.S. mainland around the same time.

The end result could be a powerful one-two punch – a tropical storm combined with a nor’easter.

And according to the experts, it might wind up doing damage all the way from New England to the Carolinas, and possibly as far west as Ohio.

(A nor’easter is similar to a tropical storm, except it’s a cool-weather storm.)

As of Friday morning, The Associated Press reported that Sandy was expected to make landfall along the New Jersey shore.

Other forecasts called for it to come ashore on Long Island in New York.

But all along the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic coasts, people have been advised to get ready.

“Sandy’s impacts will be widespread, no matter the location of landfall,” said hurricane expert Jeff Masters, in an interview with Reuters news service.

“If you live (anywhere) on the East Coast, keep an eye on this storm,” said Craig Fugate, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in an interview with NBC News.

At least 22 Sandy-related deaths were reported in the Caribbean region as of early Friday – mostly in eastern Cuba and Haiti.

Eastern Cuba took a direct hit from Sandy.

And Haiti also got heavy rain and wind – an especially bad combination for a country where hundreds of thousands of people have been living in tents and other temporary shelters since an earthquake nearly three years ago.

Sandy weakened just a little as it moved north across the Bahamas island chain Friday morning.

After clearing the Bahamas, it was expected to continue moving north off the East Coast for two or three days.

Then, it was expected to make a left turn and slam ashore.

The likely results:  wind damage, including power outages and fallen trees, plus dangerous flooding.

Experts say it could do as much as $1 billion in damage – maybe even more.

“(Sandy has) got the potential to rival the great nor’easters of the past, depending on what path it takes,” said Robert Thompson, a National Weather Service meteorologist, in an interview with Boston, Massachusetts, TV station WHDH.

With Sandy on its way, it’s a good time to go over some important terms you’re likely to hear in the next few days – especially if you live along the East Coast.

 

* If there’s a tropical storm watch or a hurricane watch in your area, it means that tropical storm or hurricane conditions are possible within a day and a half.

* If there’s a tropical storm warning or a hurricane warning in your area, it means tropical storm or hurricane conditions are almost certain to develop there within 24 hours.

 

A tropical storm has sustained winds of at least 39 miles an hour.

And a hurricane has sustained winds of at least 74 miles an hour.

If an official tells you to evacuate your home before the storm, do what he or she says.

(To evacuate means to leave.)

The picture above this story shows how damaging Sandy has already been.

You can replace a home.

But you can’t replace a life.