NEWPORT CITY – Gov. Peter Shumlin has declared a state of emergency for Vermont following reports from the National Weather Service that Hurricane Sandy, which has now merged with two other storms to create what's being called a "superstorm," is headed up the coast.
Forecasters say Sandy will continue to travel up the eastern part of the United States today.
During a telephone press conference yesterday, Shumlin said the “serious storm” is nothing like Tropical Storm Irene that hit Vermont last year. “We do not expect this storm, from what we have been told so far, to lead to massive flooding,” said Shumlin. “That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to have water. We expect to have two to four inches of rain.”
The heaviest rain will likely be in southern Vermont and there are possibilities of some localize flooding in all areas. The state’s swift water teams are ready if flooding is worse than predicted. High winds could last at least 12 hours.
As of late Sunday morning, the National Weather Service (NWS) Office in Burlington predicted Sandy would make landfall in New Jersey sometime early today. Some areas of the Northeast Kingdom could experience guests of 70 to 80 miles per hour. The Rutland area will also see high winds.
Utility companies and emergency responders are worried about power outages, downed lines and falling trees.
“Right now we have a high wind warning for the entire area,” said Jason Neilson, a forecaster with the NWS Office in Burlington, referring to the entire state late Sunday morning.
“We’re preparing for the worse and hoping for the best,” said Shumlin. “I am doing that simply to allow us to deploy National Guard and other military personnel if necessary.”
A state of emergency also helps Vermont receive reimbursements from the federal government.
The storm will hit the state today with winds peaking during the evening hours until midnight before decreasing in the next day or so, when winds could reach 20 to 30 mph and maybe guest up to 40 mph.
When talking about Sandy, forecasters have used the term hybrid storm.
“It started out as a hurricane, but it’s interacting as well with a cold front that’s just off to our west,” said Neilson. Once Sandy hits shore, it will dissipate and lose the characteristics of a hurricane. “Once it goes to shore to the mid-Atlantic region it’s expected to change the characteristics.”
The storm will not have enough cold weather to have snow in this region, however some parts of West Virginia could see about two feet of snow in localized areas.
Everyone should bring indoors anything that could become flying obstacles, including lawn furniture, toys and political signs. State officials ask Vermonters to check on their friends, neighbors and family members who are homebound or vulnerable. Stay tuned for any possible school cancellations.