MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Now to a storm that's already been dubbed Frankenstorm. Hurricane Sandy has been barreling across the Caribbean, where it killed more than 20 people. Now, it's headed toward the East Coast. It's big. It's powerful, and it's expected to stick around for a long time. High winds and heavy rain are forecast in the Carolinas to Maine, along with snow in higher elevations and storm surge and massive flooding along the coast. Henry Margusity is a meteorologist with AccuWeather. He joins me to explain what's so rare about this storm. And, Henry, this has been called an unprecedented convergence of weather systems. What's going on? What's headed our way?
HENRY MARGUSITY: Well, what's happening is that Sandy now is coming north. And at the same time, the jet stream is now dipping down into the center part of our country, and it's going to all merge together. And you're going to have all this warm air merging with cold air. And when those two mix together, bad things happen. You know, a thunderstorm happens when you have cold air aloft and warm air at the surface, you get a big thunderstorm.
And so think of Sandy as this gigantic thunderstorm developing because it's going to be cold aloft, tropical air at the surface, and a storm that's actually going to become stronger as it comes in. And the wind field is going to spread out. So people up in New England, New York City, Baltimore, Washington, all the way back to Ohio are going to deal with this massive windstorm that's going to develop when this thing comes in. And that is the big problem with power outages, trees being blown down and a lot of heavy rain coming with it as well.
BLOCK: We should also mention another factor and that's that there's a full moon on Monday, which means even higher tides.
MARGUSITY: Yeah, when the storm surge starts to come in, you know, the waves out there right now are actually 20 to 30 feet. And that wave action is already started to come northward. You're going to start seeing these, what we call spring tides, whether in not in fall we call them spring tides as well during the full moon. And these spring tides are actually higher than normal. Then you got the storm coming in. You got the wave action coming in. I would imagine that places like Atlantic City all the way down to Cape May, even up into Long Island, are going to have lots of flooding problems when it's all said and done.
BLOCK: We mentioned snow, Henry. Where are you projecting snow?
MARGUSITY: Snow is going to be at the higher elevations of West Virginia towards Snowshoe, West Virginia, then back into the Southwestern Pa. Maybe some of the Smoky Mountains might get a little bit of snow. But the biggest snows will be in West Virginia. And they could see up to a foot of white snow there, which is going to cause all kinds of power outages for them across that state.
BLOCK: And Sandy, the storm is moving slowly, right? It's going be here for some time.
MARGUSITY: Yeah. Oh, it's going to stick around through Wednesday and Thursday. It's not going to be as strong though. The strongest part is when she is coming in. During that time, there's going to be tremendous high winds. I mean, New York City, I think the wind is going to gust probably at least 60, if not 70 miles an hour. The wind field is going to be moving out away from the center, so those high winds are going to be coming well-ahead of the storm. And so places like New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, those winds are picking up Monday afternoon and Monday night before it even comes ashore.
BLOCK: What are you telling people to do to get ready as best they can?
MARGUSITY: Well, I've been telling people, you got, look, the weekend to get yourself prepared for this storm. It's coming Monday and Tuesday. Go check your trees out there. Don't park your cars under trees when the storm comes because if trees fall down or branches fall down, they fall on your cars. You know, take your screens off the window. Anything that can fly around with those high winds, take care of that.
BLOCK: That's Henry Margusity, a meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, Pennsylvania. Henry, thank you and good luck.
MARGUSITY: All right. Thank you.