FEMA Leader: 'Time to Act is Now' for Residents in Path of 'Frankenstorm'
National Hurricane Center forecasters warn against underestimating Hurricane Sandy. In Western PA, residents now are under a high wind warning as well as a flood watch.
Federal emergency management and weather officials on Sunday said the time for preparing for Hurricane Sandy is rapidly coming to an end.
"The time for preparing and talking is about over," said Craig Fugate, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "People need to be acting about now."
Hurricane Sandy is expected to affect as many as 50 million people as it makes its westward turn toward the East Coast. As of Sunday afternoon, Western Pennsylvania residents remain under a high wind warning through noon Tuesday as well as a flood watch through Tuesday night.
While the most recent maps show the center of the storm tracking toward New Jersey, forecasters are hesitant to pinpoint a specific area for landfall.
Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, said forecasters are still looking for the storm to come ashore somewhere between the Delmarva coastline and Rhode Island.
Knabb cautioned the public not to focus on the track of the center of the storm or that it is a Category One hurricane.
"I don't want folks to focus on the time of arrival because conditions are already starting to go downhill in coastal areas," said Knabb. "The system is large and of long duration...it could be a two-day event in many locations including inland locations."
Heavy winds are expected from the Carolinas to New England through the middle of the week. Those winds are expected to cause massive power outages. from the mid-Atlantic to the New England states.
Storm and tidal surges will combine along the coast and could produce flooding as much as 11 feet above ground level. By late afternoon Sunday, the hurricane center was posting warnings "of life-threatening storm surge" and flooding along the mid-Atlantic coast.
Knabb said forecasters predict inland flooding will become a problem early, especially in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Flooding could also be a problem in upstate New York, southern portions of Massachusetts and elsewhere, he said Sunday.
For details about the high wind warning and flood watch affecting the Pittsburgh region—Plum-Oakmont area included—see this article.