State and federal officials have warned Pennsylvania residents to prepare for widespread flooding and power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.
The storm, which is expected to come ashore along northern New Jersey late Sunday into early Monday, is expected to affect 50 to 60 million people along the East Coast.
States of emergency have been declared in Maryland, New York, Virginia, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Corbett declared the emergency Friday after forecasters predicted the storm will put Pennsylvania in the flood zone.
Flooding is the main focus of forecasters and federal disaster response agencies for now, according to Louis Uccellini, director the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center For Environmental Prediction.
Uccellini said the "extent of heavy rainfall has a danger of flooding for Pennsylvania and Maryland and into northern Virginia."
Sandy is expected to merge with a nor'easter to create a "Frankenstorm" hundreds of miles wide, bringing damaging winds and rain.
"Given the amount of rainfall and the period of time that it's falling over, we expect river flooding to be significant from about 48 hours from now on," Uccellini said. "We're looking at the river valleys in Pennsylvania and Maryland then into New Jersey very carefully."
Officials in Bucks County and Montgomery County on Friday called for residents to prepare for the storm by having three days of supplies at home — including batteries, water and food — in case of widespread power outages.
"Every storm is different," said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, "so if you were not impacted by a past storm that doesn't mean it will be exactly the same for you this time."
Federal forecasters said that the "Frankenstorm" involving Hurricane Sandy is expected to smash into the East Coast harder than Hurricane Irene, which left hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians without power and led to historic flooding in late August 2011.
"So, there's going to be an inland flood potential," Knabb said. "This is not just going to be a coastal event, although the hazards do start at the coast with the storm surge and exactly who gets the worst of the storm surge is difficult to pinpoint right now."
Also of concern to officials are the strong winds that are expected to cause extended power outages.
"Based upon the wind speeds, we don't expect substantial structural damages," Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said. "What we think the primary impact is going to be is trees and tree limbs down and whatever roof damage from trees coming down as well as power lines. The primary concern with wind is going to be extensive, perhaps widespread power outages due to trees coming down, limbs coming down."
The large size of the storm, which could potentially cover the eastern third of the country, will cause multiple weather-related issues that will vary from region to region.
Once the storm makes landfall, it is expected to track east to west before heading north and being taken up by a storm system coming out of Canada.
If you live in a low-lying area and are concerned about flooding, you may want to consider evacuating before Hurricane Sandy makes her way here.
In Montgomery County, the following American Red Cross shelters are slated to open on Sunday at 7 p.m.:
- Norristown Area High School, 1900 Eagle Dr., Norristown 19403
- Cheltenham High School, 500 Rices Mill Road, Wyncote 19095
- Pottstown High School, 750 North Washington St., Pottstown 19464
Come back to Patch for live updates on the storm as it comes through the area. Let us know what you are doing to prepare.