Storm Watch: Hurricane Sandy

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Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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Storm Watch: Hurricane Sandy

Ready or not, if you live along the US east coast, Mother Nature has just announced a pop quiz. Subject: personal and community resiliency.

By all accounts, Sandy is a big storm. Sandy is expected to be near hurricane force at landfall.  As of 8 a.m. ET, the storm was about 260 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and about 395 miles from New York City, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.  It was moving 10 mph.  Sandy is expected to move parallel along the Southeast coast today and tonight, and approach the mid-Atlantic coast by Monday night.

Our thoughts are with our with our readers, staff, and family living in Sandy's path. We hope you're all able to take appropriate steps to ensure your safety as the storm passes over (and if you haven't, we certainly recommend doing so before Sandy arrives).

And we're setting up this thread for folks to use for sharing preparation guidance, reporting developments, asking advice, and providing emotional support -- in advance of and during the storm.

Many of you have been investing in resiliency for months or years now. Take this experience as an opportunity to identify where the weaker points in your preparations are. When the storm has passed and normal life resumes, you'll know better where to focus your energies.

Also note how your neighbors and community react. Who is well-prepared and who isn't? Which neighbors weather the storm with good attitudes, and which ones panic? Are your city's/town's services well-equipped to respond? Are there breakdowns in responsiveness due to lack of investment/infrastructure/expertise? All of this will provide good insight into what to expect from your community in future emergencies, and how you may need to amend your plans in anticipation of what *not* to count on next time.

And if you're one of those who has yet to begin preparing in earnest, two things:

  • Read our What Should I Do? guide for direction on how best to focus your actions in the remaining time you have before Irene arrives in force. Prioritize securing sufficient water, food, and first-aid stores to last, should the storm knock out your power, for two weeks.
  • Note how quickly store shelves deplete, as people rush to stock up in advance of the storm. Let this be a wake-up call to you. Emergencies, by definition, catch you unaware. As we enter a future where energy is less available to us, shortages of many kinds are likely to occur. When they do, they, too, will often arrive with little to no warning. Reduce your vulnerability by investing in your resiliency while you still have time to do so in a measured manner. And *don't* be one of those who contribute to the risk of panic during an emergency by rushing out to stockpile at the last moment.

Again, we wish all of our East Coast readers safety amidst whatever Mother Nature throws at you over the next few days. We've taken steps to make sure this site remains updated and running, even if the power at Martenson Central goes out for prolonged periods.

As you're able, please let us know in the Comments section below how you're faring.

best,
Adam

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
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Thanks so much, Adam

My nearest neighbors (here in town, where we recently moved) tell me they have not lost water service in the ~12-36 years they've been living here, and only ever lose power for 1-2 hours at most.  We are right around the corner from the hospital, and very close to the police and fire stations.  It will be interesting to see if that holds true in this storm, which is supposed to be fairly epic.

There are many people here who are panicking because so many have only just finished repairing and recovering from Hurricane Irene, which hit us hard last year.  It would -- will? -- be tragic if those same areas experience severe flooding again.  I suppose the good news is that town and regional agencies are taking this storm threat very seriously and issuing detailed cautions and preparations well in advance of the storm's arrival. 

However, we are accustomed here to hearing weathermen over-predict (perhaps even sensationalize) potential storm impacts, and the general attitude I'm feeling from people I talk with in town is that they just don't buy that this storm is going to be as bad as "they" say.  We have been told far too often that we are expecting a foot of snow and then we get just a few inches or even just rain.  I guess my standard response there is the same as it is here:  I'd rather be a year early and overprepared than a day late and underprepared.  I went to the food co-op this morning for more eggs and bread "just in case," and I secured or moved indoors all of the loose things in my yard.  But I'm not panicking, because I've prepared in all the ways I can reasonably manage, and all those preps moved with us. 

My kids are really hoping it won't cancel Halloween for the second year in a row -- last year we had a major early snowstorm on Halloween.  We'll see.  It's not high on my priority list, but it is on theirs!

My thoughts are with those who are further south of us and already being impacted by the storm.  Good luck, everyone.

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westcoastjan
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reminder for west coast preppers too...

Last night there was a big earthquake just off the northern BC coast. Here at the south end of Vancouver Island I did not feel it, and I am thankful that I do not have to put into action my emergency plans. You just never know out here.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/28/b-c-earthquake/

I am also thankful I am not on the east coast with this monster storm bearing down on me. Good luck everyone, my thought are with you.

And Adam, great idea re conducting a post mortem on how things went down and how people reacted. That is definitely good info to take away from a disaster situation in order to fine tune one's personal disaster planning. I look forward to hearing of people's experiences.

Here's to hoping that the storm is not as bad as predicted... Good luck!

Jan

Adam Taggart's picture
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Fairly frightening forecast

Here's a recent dispatch from the Weather Channel explaining why Sandy is such a historic outlier in terms of its size and potential for damage:

http://www.businessinsider.com/whoa-the-weather-channel-meterologist-jus...

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thc0655
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Philly

I'm looking forward to a little bit of a challenge to see how comprehensive our preparations are.  Our major weakness is energy resilience: we have PLANS to get a natgas/propane emergency generator but no actual generator.  In 24 years in Philly our electricity has only been out for more than 2 hours one time and that was on a New Year's Eve when some idiots fired about 200 handgun rounds into a nearby transformer on a pole until it blew up.  That was fixed in 8 hours.  I'd love 24 hours without electricity as a drill and as the final impetus I need to spring for the generator.  (Right now, it's not too cold and not too hot, so the population should be able to weather it just fine without heat/AC.)  Unfortunately, I'm expecting a lot less than 24 hours without electricity.

Like Amanda Witman I'm a little tired of the "weather hype" we are more and more subjected to (probably to generate MSM viewership).

I do have my eye on the large branch of my neighbor's huge maple tree that hangs over our deck and the rear of our house.  

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Not just the east coast, think north coast

Although well inland from the ocean, the Great Lakes are also going to take some pretty severe weather.  They are predicting over 20' waves along the south shore of Lake Ontario and those waves are likely continue to pound the shoreline for quite a while:

http://www.weather.com/weather/videos/news-41/top-stories-169/timing-for-impacts-from-sandy-31851#loc=41/169/31934

A good friend lives on the shoreline.  Although the houses along his stretch are up off the water line and set back, 20' waves will likely hit those houses or at the very least wash out larges pieces of their yards.  Many of those houses belong to snowbirds who have already left for Fla and points south.  We've invited him to bring himself and his cats to our house if he feels like evacuating.

There are also several small port towns that are lower than the houses.  The villages could take a lot of damage.

I doubt people in that area have ever experienced anything like what is coming as the direction of the storm and persistent high waves appear to be unique.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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it's past the Carolinas

Hurricane Sandy passed us 270 miles out to sea, and we still had wind and cloudy weather - 120 miles inland. The thing is immense.

Our thoughts are with our northern East Coast neighbors.

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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So Far, So Good

Just keep the earthquakes and tsunamis on the left coast......

Been raining since early Saturday evening.  Blustery winds but nothing out of the ordinary.  Eye is on track to be due east somewhere around 8:00AM Monday morning which will put the winds out of the north - that's good because it will scoop the piled up water out of the bays and mitigate the full moon tides.  Highest surge near us is forecast to be 6-7 feet which is easily manageable.  I realize things could change - but I'm with thc, given all of the many, valuable things we have learned from the gang here at CM/PP.com over the years, we're set for just about anything Sandy could throw at us and a little challenge would help tweak the game plan.  I started the generator and did a load run yesterday, topped of a few items in the pantry and staged the emergency kits - lanterns, headlamps, three burner camp stove, high capacity water filters.  Unless something drastic occurs in the next 6-12 hours I imagine I'll be putting all of it away this time tomorrow.  I think people north are going to get hit just a touch harder than Tidewater - hope everyone is dug in and ready. 

Cat and I did make 4 quarts of chili this morning.  27 different kinds of homegrown peppers.  Two batches - one mild: Green bell, Carolina Gold bell, Chocolate bell, Red bell, Orange bell, Red Marconi, Yellow Marconi, Sweet banana, Anaheim, Poblano, Red Corno di Toro, Purple Beauty bell.

The other represents a high water mark for me. 

Hot batch: All of the peppers in the mild batch PLUS Hot banana, Ghost, Trinidad Butch "T", Trinidad Scorpion Tail, Carribean Red, Yellow Fatali, Orange habanero, Scotch Bonnet habanero, Red Savina habanero, White habanero, Chocolate habanero, Willy pepper, Lantern pepper, Thai Dragon pepper, Chinese 5 Color Aji.

Fukushima ain't got nothing on me.....

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RNcarl
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35 miles or so inland

Well,

We are ~35 miles inland along the southern outer banks. 

All we have gotten is some wind and rain. Not even as much rain as predicted. 

As the eye wall of the storm passes to our north, we will have an interesting thing happen, water will actually be pushed OUT of the rivers and toward the sound side with flooding of the barrier islands and outer sound from the "backside" of the storm. The view is rather eerie seeing the pilings of the bridges more exposed than usual just after having been covered more than usual by the storm surge.

I guess I have become accustomed to the wind, I didn't even strap down the lawn furniture on the back deck.

I am more worried about the family back home in New England.

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Arthur Robey
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IZulu

iZulu leDuma iQuaniso

The Heavens Thunder the Truth.

Rector's picture
Rector
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Never underestimate a hurricane

Not likely that anyone in this group needs a note of caution, but I thought I would say it:  NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A HURRICANE'S POTENTIAL.  I live  in South Texas on the coast and we get hit all the time with hurricanes and tropical storms.  When Hurricane Dolly came through (CAT 2-3) I think, I can distinctly remember laughing at the "idiots" that were boarding up their windows as the forecasts were understated.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Once the storm came ashore after strengthening, I can distinctly remember the two oak trees in my front yard coming down as I watched them crash toward the house, windows straining against the storm's wind pressure to the point of cracking, and large fish swimming in the flood waters that completely surrounded my house.  Lots of lessons there in the 5 days that followed, but I will never forget and I will NEVER let that happen to me or my family again.  We were lucky, and I was a dumbass for not taking it more seriously.

Now, when I get a reasonable forecast for a hurricane landfall, I go 100% of the way.  I ALWAYS BOARD UP MY WINDOWS.  My other preparations have put us in good position since then, but you should assume that the storm will be a little worse than you think.  Trust me on this one. . .

If you have any questions about hurricane defenses I will be checking till the lights go out.

Rector

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thatchmo
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tsunami side note

After apparently feeling the Queen Charlotte Quake here on Kauai- 40 minutes after it hit QC, I checked in with my SE Alaska friends- they were prepared and dealt with it, or didn't know about it 'till I called them!  Then we got the warning for Hawaii.  Drove down to the shop.  Packed up the generators, pumps, chainsaws, and computers from the business- elevation 6'- and schlepped them and the boat to higher ground.  Got to play with my newly aquired Ham radio on the emergency net.  Appreciated having the security of my go bag already in the truck.  Waited 3 hours.  Undid previous preps- continuing this morning.  Thanks for a non-event for us.  Hope all you east-coasters fare as well.  Aloha, Steve.

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RJE
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Barb's and my prayers are

Barb's and my prayers are with all effected folks. Much can be learned from this and I wish you all well..

I have a question for those near this beast. I hear that the land fall is to be later on Monday, with high tide time and a full moon could be quite the mix. Is this the current track and estimated land fall or has this changed? I think your boots on the ground is better than any reports frankly. I live minutes from Lake Huron and I'm told the waters are churning pretty good and somehow is being effected by this storm. Inland we have heavy gusts, and consistant winds and is quite cold from the track of the jet stream. No big deal compared to what the east coast is experiencing.

Be careful

BOB

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I have learned to fear these storms but cityfolk are nervous too

I was in the big city today for a conference and people were joking, nervous and edgy. They are not used to losing transit service like this. It incapacitates a lot of people who don't have cars.  We are being told landfall will be tomorrow night but there will be plenty of rain starting tonite into tomorrow with the winds picking up speed tomorrow night and Tuesday.  I cleared off my terrace and brought my garden indoors.  I know lots of people with vastly overgrown trees thanks to the abundance of rain and warmth we had this year. It looks great until they start falling and they certainly will. I hope everyone is safe and sound.

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joesxm2011
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Grocery Store?

I guess it's too late to go to the grocery store.  Darn, I probably should have gotten a loaf of bread.  Maybe I will get to try out my dutch oven.

I did pick up an extra 15 gallons of gasoline.  The first gas station was sold out and the second one was down to 500 gallons as I was pumping.

Even the sheeple at work were talking about looking for D batteries as early as last Thursday.

Our governor says that the last time we had a storm this bad was NEVER.  Looks like a fun ride ahead tomorrow.

I never got around to sharpening the chain on my chain saw since last year's storms.  Luckily I have a couple of spares to put on if I continue to be lazy.

Prayers for everyone, especially the power repair crews and emergency responders.

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robie robinson
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tidewater VA folk

or anyone else, PM me if you might need anything. we're prepped for any of "MaMa's" efforts. The solar freezers w/batteryb/u keep ice for my scotch and the milch coos enjoy the rain. the robinsons

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Spare a thought....

Best wishes and batten down the hatches for all those along the east coast, including much of my own family.

For those wanting to keep track of storm surge potential and other factors, here is an interactive site at NOAA's National Hurricane Center (site).

Although not specific to the storm, an excellent way of seeing the population, number of homes and area affected by 1-10ft of storm surge is the interactive tool Surging Seas (site), You can see which areas will flood for differing levels of storm surge and get statistics by state, county or city. You can zoom in and perhaps even pick out your own house.

Lastly, spare a thought or say a prayer for those mariners caught at sea during this storm. I've ridden out a hurricane with 40+ft seas, Sandy is forecast to produce 50+ft waves. My sympathies to all involved.

Mark

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Woodman
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backup power

I rigged up power cables in my car today to feed a 1KW inverter for backup power, and tested it on my largest critical load: a small chest freezer.  Running off my Prius should minimize fuel consumption since the Prius engine will cycle on and off automatically to keep the battery charged and not have to continuously idle.  Other than refrigeration I'm pretty resilient without electricity, but it's nice not be worrying about losing a bunch of frozen food.

The other prep today was to harvest the fall beet and carrot crops before the garden got a soaking.  A hard frost could hit anyday now anway.

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Ready

Hey gang --

Topped off the hi-test stored gas.  Checked genny.  Plenty of food (and,  ehrm...martini fixins) and water set aside (can bust out the Berkey if need be).  Teaching one client at in-apartment Pilates studio, then free to face what comes.  Good opp to see where my preps and resilience are.  

All in all, I don't think it's going to be too hairy where I am (near Danbury, CT).  If you check storm path maps, Sandy is courteously screwballing all over the NE but cutting CT out of her path.  Attagirl.  Having said that, my good thoughts will go out to any/all who are going to feel the full brunt (incl my bro & his fam, just W of Philly).

Sorry about your Tigers, Bob.  But the Giants morphed into an utter juggernaut starting in Game 3 of the NLDS...

Good luck to all of us!

Magnify -- Sager

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joemanc
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thc0655 wrote: I'm looking

thc0655 wrote:

I'm looking forward to a little bit of a challenge to see how comprehensive our preparations are.

Believe it or not, a power outage is a good test for your resiliency. I lost power during last year's freak October snowstorm for a week and I learned a lot of lessons/tips/tricks from it: Charge up all of your rechargeable batteries/cellphone beforehand; fire up your generator to make sure it is running fine - this turned to be an issue for me as the generator battery had discharged; stock up on candles for light; have plenty of extra dry firewood around; try walking around your house in the dark so you know where everything is; or you can get one of these solar powered cap lights. My neighbors thought I looked a miner wearing one of these last year.

I have a gas generator, which I didn't quite fill up all the way this time. My thinking is the leaves are off the trees and we are not getting flooding rain, hardly any rain in fact, so I'm expecting much less power loss than last year. I was sharing my generator with my neighbor last year so I had him get some gas too, just in case.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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well i thought i was prepped

raised by my depression era G-parents we've always lived a "prepped" life, however, this am. the windshield wiper blade,drivers side,decompensated on my way into the office. I got soaked putting the passenger side where it would be useful.  robie  

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RJE
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Sager, hat tip to the Giants.

Sager, hat tip to the Giants. How's this for resiliency: GoooOOO Lions!

Seriously now, I have been glued to this storm, I wish all well, and have mentally gone through all possible scenario's and the preps are done, duplicated and backed up. The greatest comfort I can think of is having installed a tri-fuel carburetor to my whole house generator. Gasoline, propane and natural gas can be used, are stored, and the system is portable.

Good Luck Folks

BOB 

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Adam Taggart
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Red Cross shelters

Google has posted an interactive map with all sorts of data on Hurriance Sandy. The red pins on the map represent Red Cross shelters where you/loved ones can ride out the storm if your current location becomes endangered.

Click on the map to zoom in/pull up information about a location:

The map also has a toggle that shows where the worst of the storm surge is expected to take place. If you live in a coastal area, play it safe.

Don't wait until things look bad to leave. If you wait to do so, beyond your own life, you end up endangering those who may be called in to help you (I am having this issue right now with an elderly family member who is resisting leaving her seaside home).

RJE's picture
RJE
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Very responsible Adam, and

Very responsible Adam, and the best this community can offer. I pray your family member is moved to safety.

I can help (financially), would like to help, and if I can do this directly just let me know. Are there any PP members directly volunteering where I might be able to send a donation?

BOB

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So far so good...just had 1

So far so good...just had 1 quick power outage, power came right back on. Definitely not as bad as Irene last year, so far. I think it has a lot to do with the lack of leaves on the trees - they are all blowing around my backyardfrown.
I think landfall has been moved up to 5PM now. Since the storm has turned towards New Jersey and is probably at it's closest to point to me in West-Central CT, it may not get much worse than this...fingers crossed.

Doug's picture
Doug
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Great Lakes

In the final analysis, the Great Lakes may be affected as badly as anywhere.  I mentioned earlier a friend who lives on Lake Ontario.  He has talked to a lot of people up there who are lifetime residents.  None remember anything like the confluence of a tropical hurricane and a system coming in from the west.  I did some searching online and found a study done by the Corps of Engineers around 1990 looking at historical weather events on L. Ontario.  The summary mentioned a number of storm types, the directions they came from and the seasons when these types of storms occurred.  There was nothing indicating a storm like this had occurred in the historical record.  Then I called a friend who works for the Corps and has access to buoy readings.  Wave heights on Ontario are now about 5 ft, but forecasts are predicting over 20 ft waves some time tonight.  There are supposed to be 25 ft waves at the south end of Lake Michigan (Chicago).  The houses along the stretch of shoreline where friend #1 lives are generally no more than 10 ft above the waterline.

The bottom line is that the Great Lakes may be very unprepared for what is currently brewing.  Give a thought to friends and relatives who live near the Lakes, particularly the south sides/ends of those lakes.

Doug

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It's starting to blow pretty good here...

We're having our first 30+ mph gusts here in central MA.  I've already had a power flicker event so I am not terribly sanguine about our chances of keeping it on over the next 48 hours (!!) while the storm is going to chug around in our region.  

Yet another Halloween shaped by mother nature, last year's being affected by the freak snowstorm that took our power for 6 days.

I topped off our gasoline jugs because I do not like how Sandy is pointed right at a significant portion of our east coast refining capacity.  All that has to happen to create real shortages around here is for one of those refineries to go off line for a couple of weeks.

Given that they are already going to be (at best) essentially off line for a few days because they went into preventative shut down in anticipation, I think fuel stands a decent chance of going in short supply as a result of this storm.

The early pictures out of NJ and lower NYC already tell a tale of significant flooding and damage and the main portion of the storm has yet to arrive right at high tide.  I am certainly glad I am not 100% reliant on the NYC subway system as that might be offline for a while if it gets flooded as now seems likely.

I do tend to take such storms with a grain of salt because of all the hoopla that the media likes to generate, but this one...I don't know...it's that central pressure of only 940 mb ... that's really, really low. I know she's not very well formed, which is an oddity given that central pressure, but I think the chance of organizing and strengthening is there given the fuel she's got and the low pressure reading.

At any rate, I will post this while I can using my main systems, but am prepared to have to switch over to my cell phone and laptop backup system.  After that I have to resort to my local wifi coffee shop 'system' and if that's not working the library in the next large town system.  :)

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jtwalsh
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storm watch

Sitting in my office in southeastern New England watching through the patio doors as the rain and wind pummel the trees below and on the ridge across the valley.  Nothing too bad so far, just a little more intense than a normal fall or spirng rain noreaster. Schools are canceled and most everything is shut down.  Very few calls or emails all day. Lights have flickered several times but so far so good.  We are worried after last year, living through Irene, which didn't come withing 150 miles of here, but left downed trees, damaged builidngs and no electricity for a week.

Left our retreat in the northern New England woods yesterday to return to town home to be with kids, grandkids, elderly parents and to batten down the hatches.  Place up there should be out of range.  It felt strange looking for flashlights and going to the emptied market last night.  In the woods we are all set for these events.  Wood stove heats whole house (and can be used to cook) (Three cords piled up behind house, another cord on porch.)  Propane cook stove for meals and hot water.  Dug well and buckets provide water when drilled well's pump goes down.  Battery backup to run computer, small lights,cd and dvd players, or to charge cell phones (has hand crank for use if stored charge runs down.) Enough canned and boxed food to last a week or two without problem.  When we were going over our list of "to do" things for final preparations this morning I told my wife that next event we should stay up north where we are good to go when disaster hits.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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meanwhile, in NYC

...where I used to work as a safety manager, a tower crane is dangling off of the soon-to-be tallest residential building in Manhattan - 157 West 57th Street. Imagine trying to deal with a partially collapsed crane in this weather.

New York City officials have order evacuation of the upper floors of several nearby buildings. Those things can be lethal. Click on the link for another photo and the full story.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57542164/crane-dangles-from-nyc-high-rise-as-hurricane-sandy-bears-down-on-city/

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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Philly

6:30 pm.  So far, so good in Philly.  Not as much rain (yet) as I expected.  Didn't like the way the tree in our sidewalk out front was flapping against the power line that comes into the house, so we did some trimming this morning in the 25 mph gusts.  Problem solved.  Neighbor's massive maple out back (overhanging our deck and rear of house) doesn't seem to mind the wind at all.  Wind is 32 mph steady with gusts above 40 mph.  Electrical power hasn't even flickered.  City was closed today and will be so again tomorrow.

"May the odds be ever in your favor."

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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Posts: 1656
NYC getting hit hard

Sobering photos as Sandy storm surge hits Manhattan:

Apparently, the surge will hit its zenith during the night. To those in the northeast: stay safe and good luck tonight. Our thoughts are with you.

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