By Jill Colvin, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer
NEW YORK CITY — Meteorologists are warning the so-called “Frankenstorm” could prove “catastrophic” for the city, producing hurricane-force winds, driving rain, and flooding that could prove far worse than Hurricane Irene.
The storm, dubbed "Frankenstorm" due to it being an amalgam of a large hurricane and a cold front, is expected to begin barreling toward the East Coast Friday afternoon, with the wind beginning to pick up in the city by Sunday evening, and rain starting Sunday night.
But the brunt of the storm is expected to hit Monday night, when the city will be socked with hurricane-force winds, driving rain and potential flooding that could prove far worse than Irene.
“This is going to be a major event, there’s going be catastrophic damage,” said Bob Smerbeck, expert senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.com, who said that, even if Hurricane Sandy shifts its course, it will likely prove devastating for New York.
“This scenario is the worst case scenario,” he said. “It’s going to be an historic storm.”
City and state official began preparing New York City for the worst Friday.
The MTA canceled all weekend construction except on the 7 and J lines, and warned riders to brace for potential subway service shutdowns. The agency added that buses, railroads, bridges and tunnels are being prepped for high winds and heavy rain.
During Hurricane Irene, all subway service was canceled to protect equipment from flooding rain.
The MTA’s Hurricane Plan calls for a mandatory service shutdown before the arrival of a storm with sustained winds of 39 miles per hour or higher. Bridges could be closed with sustained winds of 60 miles per hour or above.
The city's emergency coastal storm plan was activated Wednesday morning and agencies are huddled at the Office of Emergency Management's situation room consulting with weather experts.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg left open the possibility Thursday of a potential mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas, which the city performed for the first time in its history during Hurricane Irene.
“If necessary, we’re prepared to do the same thing,” said the mayor.
Bloomberg also cautioned people to remain calm.
“There’s no reason to panic," he said. "We're going to do what we have to do."
Still, he advised New Yorkers to pay attention to news reports and make sure they have "go bags" with emergency belongings at the ready.
The city advises the bags should include copies of important documents in a waterproof and portable container, an extra set of car and house keys, copies of credit and ATM cards, cash, bottled water, nonperishable food items, a flashlight, radio, extra batteries and a first aid kit.
“It’s going to be just blasting wind, power outages, combined with heavy rains,” said Smerbeck, who said that winds are expected to reach 50 to 60 miles an hour, driving a storm surge as high as 5 to 10 feet.
Thanks to a combination of forces, including a very high tide, officials warn the surge could create “extreme coastal flooding” in low-lying areas, including much of coastal Brooklyn and Battery Park.
The storm also has the potential to down thousands of trees and disrupt power for millions in the region, in addition to causing widespread flight delays and cancellations along the East Coast.
The city’s hurricane guide also advised families to develop a plan about where to find each other and how to communicate during the storm.
Residents are also advised to prepare their homes by securing outdoor objects, such as porch and lawn furniture that could blow away in the wind, secure doors and windows, and move valuable items to upper floors, which are less likely to flood.
BEFORE YOU GO
11/04/2012 12:26 AM EDT
PHOTO: A Marathon Wedding Proposal, Minus The Marathon
HuffPost's Katie Bindley reports:
Like all the competitors who trained for the 2012 NYC Marathon, Hannah Vahaba will not be running the race this year. But she also will never forget her moment at the finish line. After traveling in from Atlanta, Vahaba picked up a marriage proposal in Central Park on Saturday without having to traverse the 26.2-mile course.
"This is my fiance," said Vahaba, 31, who had tears running down her face as she stood in Central Park where the race would have ended, just moments after Martin O'Donoghue had proposed.
Photo by Damon Scheleur
11/04/2012 12:25 AM EDT
Check Donation Lists
Be sure to check donation lists to see what items are needed. For example, at one Staten Island donation center, there is a critical need for batteries batteries batteries, candles, matches, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, pet food, baby supplies, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner. Clothing isn't needed as much at that center.
-Catharine Smith, HuffPost
11/03/2012 10:42 PM EDT
Brooklyn Regions Still Lack Electricity, Heat and Water Days After Storm
HuffPost's Tim Stenovec reports:
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which killed at least 48 people in New York when it battered the Northeast last week, frustrated residents in this corner of South Brooklyn are coping without electricity, heat and running water.
11/03/2012 10:18 PM EDT
On Long Island, Cuomo demands Accountability from Utilities
At a massive food distribution event at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, Cuomo said power has been restored to 60 percent of the New York metropolitan area.
LIPA reported Saturday evening that 460,000 customers remained without power, down from more than 900,000 initially.
"I've warned the utility companies repeatedly they operate under a state charter, essentially," Cuomo said. "The utility companies are not happy with my warning and frankly, I don't care."
"The customers are not happy. The bill payers are not happy and the people without power are not happy," Cuomo said. "People are suffering. It is an issue of safety and if the utilities were not prepared we will hold them accountable."
Read the full story on Huntington Patch.
11/03/2012 9:38 PM EDT
Gasoline Shortage Likely To Last For Several More Days
Even as power returns to parts of the region assailed by Hurricane Sandy, millions of drivers seeking gasoline appear likely to face at least several more days of persistent shortages.
11/03/2012 8:50 PM EDT
Behind @ConEdison: The 27 Year-Old Preventing Panic, One Tweet At A Time
HuffPost's Bianca Bosker:
On Saturday, 27-year-old Kate Frasca was manning Con Edison’s Twitter account, @ConEdison, responding to customers’ frustrations, questions, praise and criticism at an average clip of one tweet every six minutes.
11/03/2012 8:35 PM EDT
Estimate Says 600 Million Gallons Of Water Hit Mass Transit System
@ USACE_HQ :
Roughly 600 M gallons of storm water infiltrated the nation’s busiest and oldest underground mass transit system... http://t.co/5jMXDhRc
11/03/2012 8:15 PM EDT
$12 Million Donated So Far To NYC Mayor's Fund For Recovery
@ MikeBloomberg :
If you would like to donate: visit http://t.co/9w8egqxD So far $12 million has been contributed. 100% of funds go to #Recovery efforts.
11/03/2012 7:52 PM EDT
Don't Touch Downed Power Lines
@ usNWSgov :
Post #Sandy reminders: never touch a downed power line or anything touching one. Washing your hands prevents illness. #NWS #CDC