Hurricane Sandy, the third most powerful storm of the 2012 season, continues on its northbound course with an anticipated landfall between Virginia and New England this coming Monday. Its winds are expected to still be near hurricane force when it arrives, partly due to unusually warm water off the East Coast. Due to the approach of a strong cold front, a full moon that will bring high tides on Monday, and already above normal stream flows in much of the Northeast, it could bring heavy rains, flooding, serious shoreline erosion, and considerable wind damage to the region.
Sandy will also affect parks along the East Coast before it arrives in the Northeast. Although the center will be well offshore, it will be close enough to bring winds and high seas and rain from the Outer Banks north.
Parks and regions have activated their hurricane plans and have begun daily phone conferences to coordinate both preparedness and possible emergency responses, if needed. The NPS Eastern IMT is on standby to assist where needed.
Reports from two parks have been received so far:
- Cape Hatteras NS – Due the possibility of a close passage or a landfall on the Outer Banks, Dare County will be activating its emergency operations center on Saturday morning. Gale force winds are expected to begin on Saturday evening and continue through Sunday. Moderate to major overwash is forecast for east facing beaches from Duck to Nags Head and on Hatteras Island. NC-12 will likely be impassable due to both the storm and astronomically high tides; sound side following will also be a threat in some areas. The park is accordingly planning to activate its incident management team.
- Cape Lookout NS – The park is expecting about 30 hours of tropical storm force winds, with maximum sustained winds of from 50 to 70 mph. Vehicle ferries will stop taking visitors to the islands today and will instead focus on removing visitors who wish to leave. Vehicle and passenger ferries are expected to stop operating on Saturday and may not resume operations until further notice. Visitor centers on the islands will close Saturday and will remain closed until Monday. Visitors are advised against heading out to the islands from Saturday through Monday; visitors already staying in the cabins or on the beaches are being advised leave the islands or to seek areas that are protected from overwash.
Updates to this report may be posted over the weekend if warranted by conditions. A full update will appear on Monday.