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October 26, 2012

'Historical' storm warnings

Sandy, other systems remind forecasters of 'Perfect Storm'

Hurricane Sandy blew out of Cuba Thursday, rushing toward Gloucester and Cape Ann — and ready to deliver a potential hit to this region on Tuesday’s 21st anniversary of the 1991 “Perfect Storm.”

And with predicted winds of 74 miles per hour and waves expected to reach 25 feet, the storm blowing in could be comparable to the storm that slammed Cape Ann and other parts of New England, and claimed the fishing vessel Andrea Gail in 1991, meteorologists said Thursday.

”Right now, this is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening storm ... If it strikes, this is going to be similar to the Perfect Storm,” said meteorologist Charlie Foley of the National Weather Service.

The storm now commonly referred to as the Perfect Storm blew in on Oct. 30,1991, swallowing the Andrea Gail and the lives of the six men aboard. That so-called “storm of the century” was a deadly combination of three weather fronts composed of southward-moving arctic energy which collided with a northward-moving tropical storm combined with an offshore Atlantic storm. The meteorological phenomena began developing over the western Atlantic on Oct. 26, 1991, hitting its peak on Oct. 30, and finally passing through by Nov. 1.

This type of storm rarely strikes southern New England in October, according to Tom Kines, senior meteorologist at Accuweather. But Tuesday’s storm package, fueled by Hurricane Sandy, would be an almost copycat of that storm, according to Kines.

Kines said that, in addition to Hurricane Sandy headed toward Gloucester, another front in the central U.S. is pushing northeastward, and a third disturbance should be shifting in this direction today — meaning that all three storm systems could meet up in or just off Massachusetts Tuesday, with the two storm systems luring the hurricane inward.

”All three of those will join forces early in the week and those are all going to be key ingredients in producing what looks like a once in a lifetime storm,” Kines said.

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