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Nation/World

October 27, 2012

5 reasons why Sandy is expected to be a superstorm

1. A NORTHBOUND HURRICANE

Hurricane Sandy is moving slowly toward the north-northeast and is expected to continue its current path parallel to the Carolinas over the weekend, forecasters say. At some point, it's expected to become what's known as an extratropical storm. Unlike a tropical system like a hurricane, which gets its power from warm ocean waters, extratropical systems are driven by temperature contrasts in the atmosphere. At some point, probably Monday, Sandy will begin to turn back toward the coast and eventually make landfall over Delaware or New Jersey.

Although Sandy is currently a hurricane, it's important not to focus too much on its official category or its precise path. It's a massive system that will affect a huge swath of the eastern U.S., regardless of exactly where it hits or its precise wind speed. For example, tropical storm-force winds can be felt 450 miles away from the storm's center, according to the National Hurricane Center. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has personnel and supplies spread as far west as the Ohio River Valley, said Craig Fugate, the agency's director.

2. EARLY WINTER STORM

Sandy is expected to merge with a wintry system from the west, at which point it will become the powerful superstorm that has forecasters and officials from North Carolina to New England on edge. Winds from that system will pull Sandy back toward the U.S. mainland.

3. ARCTIC AIR FROM THE NORTH

Frigid air coming south from Canada also is expected to collide with Sandy and the wintry storm from the west, creating a megastorm that is expected to park over the northeast for days. Forecasters are expecting residents from Florida to North Carolina to feel the peripheral effects. But the brunt of the storm could hit areas farther inland. Officials are bracing for the worst: nearly a foot of rain, high winds and up to 2 feet of snow.

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