Emergency service workers met at the Rockland County Fire Training Center in Pomona Saturday afternoon for a conference call with Gary Conte, a warning and coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, to talk about upcoming Hurricane Sandy.
Conte said he thinks the heavy rainfall could head a bit west of the storm and expects the rain to come on Sunday. Winds are expected to be in the 15-25 miles per hour range on Sunday. Conte said the wind will then pick up Sunday night into Monday, and said Rockland could see sustained winds of 50 miles on hour throughout Monday, with gusts getting up to 60 miles an hour.
“That means we’ll have a lot of down wires, down trees,” said Rockland County Emergency Services Coordinator Gordon Wren.
The biggest risks in the storm, Conte said, are the high winds, coastal flooding and heavy surf and beach erosion.
“Use today to prepare,” Conte said.
He added that the Hudson River could see a surge that’s as high as it was during last year’s Hurricane Irene, and possible a foot higher. Conte said it could lead to tidal piling, or “unusually high water levels occur as the result of an accumulation of successive incoming tides that do not completely drain due to opposing strong winds and/or waves,” according to the National Weather Service’s website. With tidal piling, flooding could come up onto pavement and disappear, leading people to think the worst is over, only for another tide to come on land a few hours later.
On the conference call, Conte made multiple references to Irene, but someone asked him if the storm might be comparable to nor’easter of 1992. Conte said during that storm, he remembers measuring water levels as high as six or seven feet above ground level.
“This could definitely rival that,” he said.
Wren warned that areas in Stony Point and Piermont could be hit hard by flooding issues. He said Nyack might as well, but Nyack is a bit raised from the water.
While Wren added he’s hoping the storm isn’t as strong as some think it’s going to be, he told everyone to start preparing for the worst.
“Right now is the time to get prepared,” Wren said. “Take the storm seriously.”
Wren also said he’s encouraging each town and village to “take care of their own” in regards to setting up shelters. He said that the Rockland Community College Fieldhouse is available, but it’d be probably be easier for people to get to shelters in their town or village. School superintendents are expected to wait until Sunday’s weather report to decide on what to do about classes on Monday.
Wren also asked for people to stay off the roads during the storm for their own safety, as well as make it easier for emergency vehicles to travel around.