All eyes are on the Northeast, but Sandy will bring major effects to our area as well. This is a HUGE storm, with tropical storm-force winds extending nearly 500 miles out from the center. The storm is already bringing large swells, heavy rain and strong winds to parts of the coast... and we won't see landfall until later tonight.
Sandy will likely lose tropical characteristics before making landfall, but that won't cause the storm to weaken. In fact, the storm may strengthen as it approaches the Jersey Shore - with pressure expected to drop and winds forecast to increase. Coastal flooding/erosion, inland flooding due to the heavy rain, and power outages due to strong winds will be a huge story for a very large part of the country over the next few days at least.
Locally, we have seen the cold air move in, and it will stick with us today. Highs will only reach the mid 50s in the Upstate - while WNC highs will only make it to the low 40s. However, the gusty winds will make the temps feel colder. In addition, we won't see much sunshine as clouds hold tough overhead.
Winds will be strong enough to easily take down trees and power lines, and most of the area is under some sort of wind advisory or warning (see image at right). Counties in gold are under a High Wind Warning through 6 AM Wednesday. These counties could see gusts of 60-65 mph. Counties shaded in orange are under a Wind Advisory through 6 AM Wednesday, and gusts in these areas will be between 40 and 50 mph. Outside of the advisories, expect gusts of up to 30 mph.
The other big weather story locally will be the heavy, wet snow that will fall in WNC today and tomorrow. Accumulations are likely across a good chunk of our mountain territory, with a few raindrops mixing in on the valley floors. See the image at right for details on counties. The Winter Storm Warning (pink shading) means we'll be seeing 4-8 inches of snow - with isolated totals as high as a foot. In the Winter Weather Advisory counties (purple shading), expect 1-4 inches of snowfall. The heavy, wet snow will take down tree limbs and power lines, especially in combination with the wind. Plus, keep in mind that the whipping winds will blow the snow around and drastically reduce visibilities at times.
We'll continue to monitor Sandy and provide updates through the next few days.