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CHIEF METEOROLOGIST TONY CAVALIER: Sandy a Triple Threat Locally

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Early Monday evening, Hurricane Sandy roared onshore in South Jersey not far from the casinos in Atlantic City.

The highest wind gust WSAZ.com Chief Meteorologist Tony Cavalier noted was 90 miles per hour, with sustained winds in places of 50 miles per hour. That’s enough to generate power outages in the 2 to 4 million people range over an eight to 10-state area.

The storm surge of rising waters on top of a high astronomical tide are a big story in Jersey, New York and New England.

For our region, the effects from Sandy while “muted” will still be substantial. It is a rare triple threat from a hurricane here at home.

The main risk for power outages overnight will come from strong winds locally. Displaced from Sandy by 300 to 500 miles, our region will experience the strongest winds from 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Cavalier expects most areas will see winds sustained at 25 miles per hour with gusts from to 45 to 50 mph.

Halloween inflatables and candidate signs that are fragile will prove no match for the “mighty” gusts.

To put these winds in perspective, during the derecho of June 29, most areas experienced winds for a half hour sustained at 30 and gusting to 60 miles per hour. Momentary gusts mustered an 80 mile per hour might.

Since we are coming off a dry October, the ground is relatively firm even after rains of the past two days. That means power outages will be more scattered at first light of day.

So far the two-day rain total is generally an inch to 2 inches, enough to bring some small streams up, but nothing close to flood stage. Given the rains expected in the next 24 hours, Cavalier expects many small streams to rise to three-fourths bank full on Tuesday.

His concern for the Ohio River is a major rise by the end of the week when all Sandy’s rain water and melted snows work their way into the mighty river.

Cavalier will watch the latest hydrographs from the NWS to help determine where a risk for high water exists.

As for the wet snows, they fell steadily all day Monday and Monday night in the West Virginia high country. By mid-evening, Snowshoe had measured 8 inches at an elevation of 4,848 feet, and Richwood near the 3,000-foot level had 4 inches.

Cavalier noted that it was still snowing and is expected to snow another 24 hours in those areas.

Given the relentless wind that will blow in the mountains through Tuesday, the NWS continues Blizzard Warnings for most of mountainous West Virginia. Accumulations of 1 to 2 feet will be common, with Snowshoe and Canaan Valley likely to exceed that.

In the river valley towns of the Ohio, Big Sandy and Kanawha Valley, wet snow should slush up the morning hours on Tuesday before melting away in rains on Tuesday afternoon.

The hills around the valley towns climb another 500 to 1,000 feet in spots, which spells a slushy 3 inches of sloppy snow before the melt-off.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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