Hurricane Sandy, now a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mile per hour winds according to the National Hurricane Center, could impact the Northern Virginia area beginning Sunday, according to local forecasters.
If the hurricane shifts close to the D.C. region, the area can expect to begin seeing showers and gusty winds beginning Sunday afternoon, says NBC4 meteorologist Tom Kierein. He notes the most severe weather could hit Monday into Tuesday when the area could see potential flooding, strong winds and possible power outages.
Dominion Virginia Power's Twitter account this morning, responding to a customer asking if they were prepared for the possible storm: "don't worry, we've got our eye on it and we're preparing now!"
UPDATE Wednesday 11:45 p.m.:
Now-Hurricane Sandy, a Category 1 hurricane with winds blowing at about 90 miles per hour Wednesday night, could affect the Northern Virginia area Sunday night into Monday if certain weather models hold, said NBC-4 chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer, in the station's newscast Wednesday night.
There is a "high threat of wind and rain around the DC metro area," he said. "We're going to be watching this very closely."
Kammerer said on the newscast that the worst of it would likely be power outages across the area.
WJLA reported that top officials met Wednesday at Dominion Virginia Power's operations center in Herndon to plan for the storm. They expect many of their 900,000 area customers may be impacted, WJLA said.
“We make sure we have the right material, our trucks are ready to go, our employees are aware…” Rodney Blevins, VP of operations, told the station.
The National Hurricane Center issued a Tropical Storm Watch Wednesday night for portions of eastern Florida. "Interests elsewhere along the southeastern coast of the United States should monitor the progress of Sandy," the National Hurricane Center advised.
Forecasters are keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Sandy, which was kicking up 50 mile-per-hour winds Tuesday in the Atlantic and headed toward hurricane status, according to forecasters.
"One of the scenarios is actually quite threatening to the northeastern U.S.," said the Weather Channel's hurricane specialist Bryan Norcross.
Once the storm's winds ramp up to 80 miles per hour Wednesday and Thursday heading through Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas, one scenario has it turning toward the Mid-Atlantic.
Climate Central's Andrew Freedman said it's what happens after passing the Bahamas that may be concerning: "...think if a hurricane and nor'easter mated, possibly spawning a very rare and powerful hybrid storm, slamming into the Boston-to-Washington corridor early next week, with rain, snow, damaging winds, and potential storm surge flooding."
The Capital Weather Gang's Brian McNoldy explained that the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) model has the storm coming up the mid-Atlantic coast "as a hurricane or possibly a hybrid tropical/nor’easter storm. It simulates flooding rain, strong wind, and destructive storm surge and coastal erosion affecting every state in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The model also would suggest snow at higher elevations in the interior. This simulation is also a bit of an outlier, but since the ECWMF is historically one of the better models, it should not be dismissed."
Northern Virginians won't soon forget Hurricane Irene, which blew into town in August 2011 as a tropical storm, bringing down trees all over the state that knocked out power and resulted in five deaths. The next month, Tropical Storm Lee hit the area, causing major flooding in Reston.
Hurricane Irene was retired from the official list of Atlantic Basin tropical storm names by the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) hurricane committee because of the fatalities and damage it caused and was replaced by Irma.
This year's hurricane season still has another five weeks to go until it's officially over on Nov. 30.