October 29, 2012 — While Hurricane Sandy will not technically make landfall until the evening of October 29, the storm is already battering New Jersey from miles off the coast.
"We are already seeing some coastal flooding even with the storm 200 miles off the coast," said Mark Hoekzema, Chief Meteorologist with Earth Networks/WeatherBug.
WeatherBug's model shows Sandy coming ashore in southern New Jersey on the evening of October 29, either at Atlantic City or slightly to the north of that point.
At this time, many are speculating about where the storm will make landfall, but Hoekzema said exactly where this storm comes ashore is unimportant given its sheer size and power.
"[People] shouldn't focus too much on exactly where this storm will make landfall because it will have such a large footprint," he said. "There is a large area of impact."
Flooding, storm surges, high sustained winds and other effects of the storm will cause millions of outages overnight and into October 30, he said. Roughly 25,000 customers are already without power.
"The major effect of this storm will be the widespread power outages and the longevity of those outages in a highly populated area," he said. "Millions of people will be without power throughout the week, possibly into the weekend."
Storm surges will be a particularly damaging effect of the storm in and around the Long Island area and into New Jersey, he said.
"We have already seen storm surge washing over the boardwalks in Ocean City, New Jersey," he said. On Twitter, photos have surfaced of flooded streets in Atlantic City.
WeatherBug's models predict 9-11 feet of storm surge in this area — an effect made worse by the full moon, he said.
"Lunar high tides from the full moon will add a couple more feet to these surges," he said.
Almost every county from the Carolinas to Boston is under some kind of storm, flooding or blizzard warning, he said.
"Wind gusts of over 50 miles per hour have been seen near Rhode Island and Massachusetts," he said. "We are going to see those wind speeds increasing."
The Delmarva Peninsula and Virginia will see some of the heaviest rains, and the storm will generate "historic" snowfall in the Appalachia region, particularly West Virginia.
"We could see as much as a two feet of very wet snow with possible accumulations," he said. "At elevations of about 2,500 feet, temperatures are already near freezing."