SHREWSBURY, Mass. — Tropical Storm Sandy has graduated to hurricane status, remaining on a track that could hit the Central Massachusetts area just in time for Halloween.
"In my opinion, and this is a low confidence outlook, the most likely scenario looks like the storm will run up the Atlantic coast just offshore and then recurve to the northwest and make landfall near the Connecticut/Rhode Island border with winds likely gusting to about 80 mph and very heavy rain, although there are several other solutions with merit to consider," Shrewsbury weather analyst Jim Arnold said.
This would mark the second year in a row that a hurricane hit New England, after Hurricane Irene last August. Halloween was also disrupted last year when an unseasonable snowstorm dropped 15 inches of snow Oct. 29, 2011, knocking out power in towns throughout Central Mass.
The National Hurricane Center shows Hurricane Sandy sustaining winds up to 80 mph with higher gusts. The storm is expected to intensify and is on course to be in the Bahamas by early Friday.
"Modeling is closing in on a more exact track and my preliminary track brings the storm into our neighborhood in the Monday/Tuesday time frame," Arnold said.
"This is about five days out and a lot can change during that time, but right now, this is what it looks like to me: I think there is a 60 percent chance that landfall will occur somewhere between Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts and Westerly, Rhode Island. I also think there is still a 20 percent chance that Sandy could move further to the west and make landfall on Long Island, and a 20 percent chance she stays a bit more to the east and passes close to Cape Cod, just offshore."
A close pass or a direct hit on New England was looking more likely than a detour out to sea, said the National Weather Service in Taunton. This scenario could produce coastal flooding and power outages.
"It will probably not be until Friday that Sandy’s future and her potential impact on us becomes a bit clearer," Arnold said.