Weather and emergency experts are urging New England residents to prepare for Hurricane Sandy, which could reach land as an extra-tropical cyclone as early as Monday night.
Mass. Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency on Saturday afternoon for the entire state, according to an alert on the state government’s website.
“This will allow the Commonwealth to use all of our resources, and deploy them in a swift and effective manner,” the alert reads.
The Massachusetts National Guard has been activated, according to the alert.
“Once the storm reaches us, their [the Massachusetts National Guard's] mission will be to assist with evacuations, searches and rescues as well as transporting emergency services personnel, augmenting MEMA Rapid Response Teams and assisting law enforcement with security and traffic control,” the alert states.
In a media teleconference hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, national experts said they are doing everything they can to inform residents before the storm hits.
“A little bit to far out to have specifics for flood warnings, but the two specific areas we’ll be looking for are inland flooding from rivers and power outages,” said Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Those are the big risks but we are preparing for them.”
Fugate said New Englanders need to do their part as well to organize for the storm.
“Now is the time to prepare,” Fugate said. “You have the weekend to get ready.”
The storm is too far out to make an accurate prediction of which area will get the worst surge, said James Franklin, branch chief of the hurricane specialist unit for the National Hurricane Center.
“We can’t say exactly where that’s going be at this point because that’s really tied to the track of the storm,” said Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction.
Sandy could cover about the eastern third of the U.S., and experts expect the intense hurricane to cover a large area and make landfall by Monday night, Uccellini said.
“We expect strong winds greater than or equal to 50 knots from the Eastern Carolinas all the way up toward New England,” he said.
Experts said they expect Sandy to reach extra-tropical cyclone status before landfall, Franklin said.
“Extra-tropical cyclones tend to get more of their energy from the atmosphere,” he said. “They have a broader wind-field than tropical cyclones.”
New England suffered millions of dollars in damages during the 1991 “perfect storm,” which hit as an extra-tropical cyclone, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
Because these storms grow more from the atmosphere, the flow pattern of the storm will be reversed. Instead of the normal west-to-east pattern, Sandy will follow an east-to-west flow pattern, Uccellini said.
“First we have the storm approaching the North Atlantic coast, then go to the Pennsylvania area. It will continue on a Westward progression to the Appalachians and then move Northeast,” he said. “It won’t go back to he water, but it will stay inland.”