STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - Sandy is coming. Any doubts that the category 1 storm, currently raking the Bahamas with sustained 80 mph winds, will visit us early next week have been all but erased. The National Hurricane Center now expects the powerful storm to make landfall near Cape May, N.J., at about 2 a.m. Tuesday. The odds of that happening are 90 percent or greater, forecasters say.
The storm is now expected to begin veering to the west at about 2 a.m. Monday, after it clears Cape Hatteras, N.C.
Of course the whirling storm, which extends for hundreds of miles, will begin noticeably affecting our weather much earlier on. Monday here is likely to be a blustery day with heavy rain and winds strong enough to topple trees.
There's a 40 percent possibility that Sandy will deliver tropical storm-force surface winds to Staten Island. That is defined as a sustained wind averaging 39 mph for a minute or more. Gusts, of course, may be considerably stronger.
If Sandy lives up to predictions, we can expect some serious rainfall as well. Accumulations of 4 to 6 inches, or even more, are thought to be likely. That will certainly result in local flooding. Tidal surges will be well above normal, and some beach erosion can be expected.
If your home has a history of being flooded or cut off by high water, it may be prudent to batten things down and make sure valuables are stored above the likely water line.
Meanwhile, New York City is busily preparing for the onslaught. Utility crews are being readied and city officials are going over their storm preparedness plans. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there's no need to flee or panic, but prudent precautions are advisable.