A 5 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center shows Hurricane Sandy on a track toward the Delmarva Peninsula, just south of the New Jersey coastline.
Currently a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph, Sandy will move through the northwestern Bahamas on Friday morning.
Forecasters predict the storm will move northward up the Atlantic Ocean and turn toward the East Coast, making landfall as a tropical storm (winds of 39 to 73 mph) with near hurricane-force winds late on Monday (Oct. 29) or early Tuesday (Oct. 30).
The "cone" of possible paths for the storm ranges from Virginia to Long Island.
While the cooler ocean water (62.8 degrees at Atlantic City's Steel Pier on Thursday evening) near New Jersey would weaken the hurricane, forecasters fear it may merge with another low-pressure system moving down from Canada. The marriage of the two systems could create a "perfect storm" similar to the 1991 one that caused damage up and down the East Coast.
As a hurricane, Sandy is expected to dump 6 to 12 inches of rain on the islands it passes with as much as 20 inches possible. If the hurricane merges with the second system, the storm could take on the characteristics of a northeaster with heavy rain over a long period of time.
With tides already expected to be exceptionally high under a full moon on Monday, the storm could hit at the worst possible time.
Sandy could pack "coastal flooding, flooding rainfall, high winds, downed trees, power outages, travel mayhem and even Appalachian snow," according to Accuweather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
The highest winds and greatest potential for coastal flooding will occur on the northeastern edge of the storm — putting New Jersey in the path of potential damage. The greatest rainfall will occur on the southern edge of the storm.
NBC40 meteorologist Dan Skeldon, an authority on local conditions, warned that Sandy will not be like Irene. Instead of moving up from the south, it will likely take a sharp turn and approach land from the east.
"Sunday things will go downhill pretty quickly," Skeldon said in his 5 p.m. forecast.
He said the storm will peak Monday and wind down on Tuesday.
In Ocean City, public work crews were busy Thursday moving sand on the north and south ends of the island to protect dune cuts and shore up eroded stretches of beach.
Emergency management officials met on Thursday, and Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said the city expects to issue an advisory on Friday morning warning residents and property owners to monitor the progress of the storm closely.
Ocean City crews also started work taking down flags, tennis court windbreaks and other equipment that could be damaged by the storm.
Emergency planners throughout Atlantic and Cape May counties are making plans and preparations.
Galloway Township Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Michael Brandenberger warned township residents to learn from the aftermath of the summer’s derecho.
Mainly, that means make sure there is plenty of water and ice available in case of power failure following the storm.
“Anything can be used to store water,” Brandenberger said. “You can use plastic containers, buckets, even trash cans. The important thing is to have plenty of water so you can flush the toilet, take a shower; that’s something people didn’t have after the derecho. They need water so the can survive.”
He said now is the time to begin preparing ice for the coming storm, despite the fact that the storm is set to hit New Jersey Monday night into Tuesday morning. He said the police department, public works, fire department and emergency management are getting ready, but information is changing constantly.
A meeting involving the police department and emergency management in both the township and the county is scheduled for Friday night.
He also said township and county residents should remain tuned in to the following local radio stations:
WAYV 95.1 FM / WAIV 102.3 FM
WTTH 96.1 FM / WDTH 93.1 FM
WFPG 96.9 FM
WXKW 97.3 FM
WTKU-FM 98.3 FM
WZBZ 99.3 FM / WGBZ 105.5 FM
WZXL 100.7 FM
WMGM 103.7 FM
WSJO 104.9 FM
WPUR 107.3 FM
WIBG 1020 AM
WCMC 1230 AM
WMID 1340 AM
WOND 1400 AM
WENJ 1450 AM
WTKU (AM) 1490 AM
WGYM 1580 AM
Township residents can sign up for text message alerts here.
They can also reach the Galloway Township Officer of Emergency Management directly at 609-652-3700, ext. 206.
Atlantic County Emergency Management officials are already stressing the need for residents to make the proper preparations prior to the storm. They are advising residents to replenish their disaster supply kits, and have provided a complete list of items to include at www.ReadyAtlantic.org. Residents will also be able to find evacuation routes, preparedness information for those with special needs, contact information for local emergency management offices and more.
In addition to the website, the county has established an emergency information hotline at 1-866-704-4636 where residents may call to receive preparedness information and storm updates.
Residents are also encouraged to register with the county’s Community Notification System atwww.ReadyAtlantic.org to receive email or text alerts.