The Delaware state climatologist and DEMA held a “bridge call” with municipal officials on Friday evening, in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. Officials said that the latest storm track had Sandy making landfall on the Delaware coastline around Cape Henlopen, likely sometime early Tuesday morning.
Officials said that, although the area was three days away from potential landfall, and could see a lot of change in the forecast, it would still be impacted by the storm.
“There is a pretty good certainty that we will still see major impacts from this storm, no matter if it has a direct hit on our coastline or goes a little to our north or a little to our south. We’re still looking at major impacts here — I want to emphasize that.”
They also said that the offices’ three main concerns are high winds, potentially record-breaking flooding and heavy rainfall, which could exacerbate the tidal flooding, as well as the potential for river and stream flooding.
With a full moon on Oct. 29 and Sandy on the way, the area is already expected to experience astronomical high tides, about a foot higher than average, with a projection of 4 to 6 feet of storm surge on top of the regular tides.
“We’re talking about a lot of water… The tides that will most likely be effected by this will be Monday and potentially the high tide on Tuesday morning,” officials said.
They predicted that the storm’s major effects will be felt Sunday evening into Monday, with the storm making landfall on Tuesday in the early hours. There is a potential for 8 to 10 inches of rain between Monday and Tuesday, they said.
Tropical storm-force winds (40 miles per hour or greater) will begin to be felt in the area, if the storm track stays the same, around Monday afternoon.
“If the storm does make a direct hit, we are talking about 50- to 75-mph winds along the coast… We’re going to have a lot of problems with that, obviously, impacting power lines and trees, amongst a lot of other things. We want to make sure people tie down anything that’s loose that could blow around.”
Officials said the severity of the storm, according to the National Weather Service, could be equivalent to the Mother’s Day storm of 2008 or even the legendary “Storm of ’62,” which changed the face of the coast.
“This is a very serious event that we’re looking at,” said Kelvin Ramsey of the Delaware Geological Survey.
Offshore flows could range over four to six tide cycles, with water backing up in the bays and tributaries running along the coast, as well.
As of Friday evening, evacuations orders had not been issued for the state, but officials said they expected to make an update regarding evacuations on Saturday, likely on Saturday evening at the earliest.
Gov. Jack Markell’s office on Friday was reviewing flood maps and the projected storm track, and was in preliminary talks with DEMA regarding evacuation routes, they said.