Despite Internet buzz that Hurricane Sandy could equal another Perfect Storm, experts say it's too soon to tell if the weather tracking toward Long Island will be as devastating as that deadly 1991 event.
According to David Stark, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office at Upton, experts are now "confident that Long Island will see some impacts from Sandy."
The new official forecast track, Stark said, has the storm hitting 100 miles southwest of Riverhead on Tuesday at 8 a.m.
The Perfect Storm, in 1991, was a lethal combination of a low-pressure system, a high-pressure system, and Hurricane Grace, that came together to wreak widespread havoc on the Northeast, resulting in 13 deaths.
Hurricane Sandy slammed Jamaica on Wednesday and unleashed her wrath on eastern Cuba on Thursday. NWS sources said the official track indicates the hurricane first moving northward across the Bahamas, and then, eventually, turning northeast out over the western Atlantic and toward Long Island.
The storm will run "well to the east of the mid-Atlantic, North Carolina area" over the weekend, NWS meteorologist Peter Wichrowski said. By Monday or Tuesday, it is expected to make a turn toward Long Island, or just east of the area, near Montauk.
On Thursday, Stark said the hurricane could transition to a post-tropical storm but could still be a "significant event," impacting Long Island.
"The biggest uncertainty we have is in the details," Stark said. "If the track does pan out, we can expect heavy rains, strong winds, coastal flooding and strong waves."
Downed trees and power lines are also a strong possibility.
The storm, however, is still five days out, Stark said. "It does appear that, rather than the storm going out to sea, there is a growing confidence that we will be impacted. We just don't how bad it could be."
Forecaster Jim Cisco of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prediction center in College Park, Maryland, told the Huffington Post, "We don't have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting."
The storm, Huffington Post reports, is likely to hit during a full moon when tides are near their highest, increasing coastal flooding potential, according to NOAA forecasts — with all the earmarks of a billion-dollar storm.
Internet speculation is rampant that the Sandy could rival the Perfect Storm of 1991 — haunting scores of residents scared of Halloween devastation.
When asked about the Perfect Storm comparison, Stark said it's too soon to tell. "A Perfect Storm — making those comparisons right now is a little premature. This far in the game, to make a comparison like that, is not a good idea," he said. "We don’t really know how it’s going to evolve."
Stark said that Sandy has the potential to be a "significant storm. We'll have to see how the forecast scenario pans out," he said.