Flooding hits coastal residents and inland communities today as Hurricane Sandy dumps more rain.
Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy is a packing a dangerous double–punch: flooding from both a massive storm surge along the coastline and inland where rivers are quickly filling with rainwater draining from parking lots, backyards and small streams.
"This is a real dangerous situation right along the coast," said New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson. "There is a threat of record tidal flooding. There has been water from the high tide this morning on roads along the (New Jersey) barrier islands. And it's only going to get worse."
Landfall for Hurricane Sandy is expected around 6 p.m. EDT Monday near Atlantic City, N.J. Robinson and other forecasters say the storm is speeding up slightly, which offers a shred of good news. That means it should move out faster as well.
The worst flooding is expected to occur along the coast, from Ocean City, Md., north along Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut where a surge of 6 to 11 feet is expected in Raritan Bay, New York Harbor and Long Island Sound, according to a statement by the National Weather Service at 2 p.m. EDT Monday.
Chesapeake Bay is also being hit hard. The National Weather Service recorded winds of 61 miles per hour on Maryland's Eastern Shore, prompting the closure of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Monday afternoon. A historic pier in Ocean City, Md., snapped in the waves on Monday morning hours before the storm is expected to hit land.
"This surge will be of historic nature," said Brian McCallum, who is coordinating Hurricane Sandy response for the U.S. Geological Survey, the agency responsible for collecting streamflow data throughout the country.
As if that weren't bad enough, McCallum says that the threat from Sandy will continue for days even after the storm has moved on and diminished in strength. That's because inland flooding is just as serious.
"What a lot of folks forget about is that inland flooding can be just as bad or worse than coastal effects," McCallum told Discovery News. "Since this is a slow moving storm, it has potential to drop a lot of rain in Appalachian mountains and in New England."
That's exactly why Barbara Miller and others like her are so concerned. Miller is director of the Office of Emergency Management in Jefferson County, West Virginia. The county is home to 53,000 residents living near the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and sits in a valley between the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains.
"We're under a flood watch," Miller said. "We're not looking at main streams right now, but small streams and road ponding. We have a lot of boots on the ground to let us know what's happening."