Amid dire forecasts for a cold front combining with Hurricane Sandy, state and Long Island officials urged residents Thursday to prepare for potentially punishing rain and high winds in a "Frankenstorm" that could hit as soon as late Sunday.
The main culprit is Hurricane Sandy, which could potentially "gel" with a cold front and a weather system from the west late Sunday or Monday along the East Coast, resulting in "a once in lifetime storm," said Tom Kines, AccuWeather meteorologist in State College, Pa.
Showers could start as soon as tomorrow night, with wind picking up by Sunday night into Monday, said Samantha Augeri, News 12 meteorologist. If all the elements merge, this storm could be stronger than Tropical Storm Irene, which struck the Island in August 2011, she said.
Coastal flooding is possible by late Sunday on Long Island as the storm's effect combines with higher tides brought on by the full moon, said Michael Silva, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he is directing the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services "to closely monitor the progress of Hurricane Sandy and prepare for potential storm impacts."
"I urge all New Yorkers to closely track the storm's path, using local radio and television or online reports," Cuomo said in a statement. "We will actively monitor the storm's progress and take any steps necessary to protect our state's residents."
Regardless of Sandy's track, Long Islanders are bound to feel some effects, meteorologists said, with both counties having already started to enact emergency management plans.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said the county's emergency preparedness officials are working on a set of procedures, with its emergency operations center to be "staffed up" on Sunday as the storm nears. As a precaution, he said, families living in flood zones -- "those who are north of [Route] 25A and south of Sunrise Highway" -- should review their evacuation plans.
Suffolk County's Office of Emergency Management held a conference call Thursday with emergency managers in towns and villages to discuss the forecast and preparations, said Vanessa Baird-Streeter, the office's director of communications. Friday, the county's emergency operation center in Yaphank opens for planning and coordination among emergency managers and others, such as representatives from LIPA.
The Long Island Power Authority anticipates power outages that could go on for days, spokesman Mark Gross said.
"If the loss of power could threaten your personal health, such as affecting the storage of medication now is the time to prepare for that possibility," Islip Supervisor Tom Croci said in a statement Thursday.
In robocalls to residents and on its website, Long Beach city officials said they had started preparing for the storm and would send out updates through its hotline, social media accounts, Swift911 notifications and longbeachny.org.
"It's a pretty big, dangerous storm," Silva said. "The impact is going to be widespread."