Currently Sandy has not been phased by its interaction with Jamaica, Cuba or the Bahamas. It's a category 2 hurricane, and should hold onto hurricane status as it rolls up the east coast. First, let's talk Carolina/Georgia coast impacts...
It will be far enough off shore that the worst of Sandy will be a good distance from our coastal towns like Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Wilmington. But, tropical storm force winds will be possible, along with off and on rain, beach erosion, high waves and rip currents. Locally, we will only feel the effects of the cold front that will help steer Sandy. The front will cause windy conditions on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and MUCH colder air will filter in. Halloween night is setting up to be our coldest so far this season!
OK, so now for the big deal with Sandy... the northeast threat! This storm will move north, being steered by a blocking high to the northeast and a front/trough to the west. When it meets up with the cold front and upper low associated with it, it will become even stronger than is once was. The "occlusion" process that will happen with the front and extra energy and moisture provided by Sandy, will create a beast of a storm. I included 3 model solutions in this post. Notice how the GFS and Canadian are forecasting a landfall and INTENSE intensification of the hybrid system near New Jersey, while the Euro has it making landfall and blasting Maryland and surrounding areas. Even though Euro is in the minority in this case, I tend to lean toward it since it was the only model to really pick up on the northeast threat a few days ago! But, as Andy Wood mentioned to me earlier, GFS and other hurricane models do a better job with tropical systems and merging systems than Euro. So, the cone of uncertainty is well placed I think.
What could happen in the northeast? Massive storm surge (from the massive size of the system, speed, intensification at landfall, etc.), heavy rain, but mainly devastating WIND. 80-90 mph winds could cause widespread failure of power grids and communication.
Regardless, it looks like this will probably hit some highly populated areas. Therefore, the media attention is well intended and smart! You may here more about Sandy in the next few days than you'd like, but hopefully it will save thousands of lives.