Sandy is now moving northwest at 10 mph. This motion, with an additional decrease in speed, is expected today, but a turn back to the north and northeast is expected to occur tonight and Saturday. This will place the center of the storm approximately 170 miles off the coast of Florida this afternoon.
The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows an increasingly large Sandy paralleling the East Coast of Florida through early Saturday morning, then paralleling the Southeastern U.S. Coast through early Monday before turning back to the northwest and eventually making landfall early Tuesday along the Mid-Atlantic or New England coast.
Maximum sustained winds are near 80 mph, making Sandy a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Wind shear and dry air already interacting with Sandy have displaced most of the strongest thunderstorm activity to the north of the center. Some additional weakening is expected as Sandy continues to interact with increasing wind shear and dry air. Sandy is forecast to remain a hurricane through Tuesday before becoming an extratropical or hybrid storm as it merges with a cold front, but this transition may occur sooner.
No part of Florida is within the 5 day cone of error, but this cone does not display potential impacts.
Tropical storm force winds currently extend up to 275 miles, and this wind field is expected to continue to expand during the next few days.
As a result, a Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for the east coast of Florida from Ocean Reef to Flagler Beach (Volusia County through Miami-Dade County) and for Lake Okeechobee. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Florida east coast from Flagler Beach north to Fernandina Beach (Flagler through Nassau Counties), for the Upper Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to Craig Key, and Florida Bay.
Windy conditions will continue today through Saturday for much of eastern Florida. Winds could gust to 40-50mph in the warning area.
Storm surge values will raise water levels 1-2 feet above normal tide, but large and battering waves will likely result in beach erosion, coastal flooding and a high rip current risk lasting as long as the middle of next week. Breakers as high as 10 feet at the coast and 20-30 feet offshore are forecast.
Up to 1.5 inches of rain has already occurred in the past 24 hours from Sandy. Although the flood risk is expected to be low, additional rainfall amounts may reach 1-3 inches along the East Coast and the high winds may make driving difficult.
More information on Hurricane Sandy can be found at www.nhc.noaa.gov