Beginning Sunday, the National Weather Service is predicting severe weather for the north eastern United States, including high wind, heavy rain, extreme tides and possibly snow, from Sunday through Tuesday, as Hurricane Sandy and various weather systems combine to form what forecasters are calling “Frankenstorm,” and which the The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center characterized as a “high impact merging of energetic systems.”

“This thing is going through a metamorphosis as it’s approaching the north eastern U.S.,” said Judah Cohen, Ph.D., director of seasonal forecasting for Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER). “The most likely threat might not be the worst,” he says, adding the caveat that the storm is still likely several days out, and that multiple outcomes are possible, including that the storm heads out to sea. “If it cuts through central to northern New Jersey, that is going to pile up a lot of water into New York Harbor. That could be a really bad scenario for flooding in that northern New Jersey, lower Manhattan, Long Island area.”

Howard Mills, director and chief advisor of Deloitte’s insurance industry group and former New York State Insurance Superintendent estimates potential losses at a billion dollars, or more.

“There are so many variables, but this has the potential to be an extremely significant weather event,” Mills says, considering the concentration of risk on the east coast and in New York and New Jersey specifically. The potential losses could be even higher if the storm lingers, which is a strong possibility, as indicated by several storm models. “It has the meteorological characteristics of a perfect storm,” he adds, noting that the full moon, which significantly raises tides, very heavy rains and a storm surge, could contribute to flooding.

 

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