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October 29, 2012

Confronting Sandy: Worst local hits expected late today

Storm's worst local hits expected late today

The first of Hurricane Sandy’s calling cards — mostly in the form of gusty winds — arrived across Cape Ann Sunday night, more than 400 miles from the massive storm’s center.

Today and tomorrow, however, will determine how memorable the rest of Sandy’s visit will be — with residents and officials preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.

With Gov. Deval Patrick already having declared a state of emergency on Saturday, emergency crews were at the ready and residents across Cape Ann and far beyond prepared for Sandy’s approach and pass, which is expected to peak this afternoon and tonight into Tuesday.

As of late Sunday, Sandy was listed as carrying Category 1 strength, packing 75-80 mph winds, with its center some 260 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

The storm was moving northeast at 10 mph as of Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm’s landfall was expected along the New Jersey coast later today or this evening. But the storm’s immense size — so massive it has led some wags to term it a “Frankenstorm” — means its heavy winds, rain and coastal flooding and storm surge means that its hurricane force winds extended 105 miles from its center as of Sunday, while its lesser tropical storm-force winds reached across more than 700 miles.

A revised tracking of the storm posted by NOAA’s National Weather Service Sunday projected that the core of the storm would likely track inland from New Jersey and west of here, up into New York and even parts of Pennsylvania. In our area, meteorologists were anticipating that Sandy will have transitioned from a hurricane to a tropical storm by the time its outward bands reach New England, with sustained winds of up to 40 miles-per-hour today and into Tuesday, and gusts of up to 70 miles per hour by later today and night.

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