MIAMI — Hurricane Sandy regained strength Saturday morning after being downgraded to a tropical cyclone, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The hurricane was making a slow path toward the U.S. northeast coast where it threatens to become one of the worst storms in decades.
The late-season storm has been dubbed “Frankenstorm” by some weather watchers because it will combine elements of a tropical cyclone and a winter storm and is forecast to reach the U.S. coast close to Halloween.
Forecast models show it will have all the ingredients to morph into a so-called “super storm”, stirring memories of the 1993 “Storm of the Century,” whose impact in the United States was particularly destructive.
Governors in states along the U.S. East Coast declared emergencies on Friday, with officials urging residents to stock up on food, water and batteries.
The U.S. Navy ordered all ships in the Norfolk, Virginia, area, including a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, out to sea to ride out the approaching storm.
“We’re expecting a large, large storm,” said Louis Uccellini, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Center for Environmental Prediction. “The circulation of this storm as it approaches the coast could cover about the eastern third of the United States.”
Sandy battered the Bahamas southeast of Florida on Friday after causing widespread destruction in eastern Cuba a day earlier. The storm was expected to crawl northward on Saturday and Sunday and then turn toward the U.S. coast.
On its current projected track, Sandy could make landfall on Monday night or Tuesday somewhere between North Carolina and southern New England, forecasters said.
The storm has the potential to cause widespread power outages and to unleash flooding and even dump snow as far inland as Ohio. It also threatens to disrupt air travel along the U.S. East Coast.
Early Saturday morning, Sandy was about 350 miles (565 km) southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, packing sustained winds of 70 miles per hour (110 km per hour), just below hurricane strength according to the Saffir-Simpson scale of storm intensity.
It had picked up a little speed overnight but was still moving slowly over the Atlantic at 10 mph (17 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.