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Hurricane Sandy helping to whip up huge Eastern storm

October 25, 2012|By Joseph Serna

The path of Hurricane Sandy, which is pummeling Cuba, is predicted to collide with a rare set of atmospheric and astronomical conditions and form a "superstorm" that forecasters say could strike along the Eastern Seaboard with ferocity next week.

Call it "Frankenstorm" in honor of Halloween. And like Mary Shelley’s monster, it will be created from disparate elements.

"It's a combination of our most extremes," forecaster Jim Cisco, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s prediction center, told the Los Angeles Times.

The brewing storm, he said, is a "a reversal of fortunes."

"Normally, when a storm comes up the East Coast, you get wintry weather, and it'll be colder [in the North] and the South will be milder. In this case, it’ll be the opposite.”

Sandy will be felt in southeast Florida by Thursday, with strong winds, drenching rain and the likelihood of beach erosion. The storm is predicted to stay over water, but its outer edges will likely be felt up the Carolinas.

Forecasters expect to downgrade Sandy to a tropical storm in the coming days, but that doesn't mean metropolitan New York will get a free pass from flood and wind damage. If Sandy follows Nor'easter patterns, it could make landfall somewhere south of Long Island.

Meanwhile, a channel of cold air is sweeping south over the Great Lakes. This means folks who just experienced record-setting heat will now see a dramatic drop in temperature, bringing snow from Minnesota possibly as far east as the western face of the Appalachians.

Now take this southbound polar cold front, mix it with Hurricane Sandy's wet and windy storm heading northwest from the Atlantic, and throw in a full moon on Monday.

What you get is possibly destructive vortex that could spread drenching rains, wind damage, power outages and road closures across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast by Halloween. The full moon will lift coastal tides, magnifying the damage.

Cisco said  "Frankenstorm," like Frankenstein, may be hard to kill.

A unusual block-like formation of high- and low-pressure systems pockmarking the atmosphere from the Pacific all the way to Europe will keep the vortex from smoothly dissipating across the region as storms usually do, forcing it to spin like a top over one region.

New England could feel the brunt of the vortex's tropical element, while more southern areas, including Pennsylvania and the nation's capital could see snow. The cold front might stretch into the Ohio Valley, Cisco said.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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