A major storm is gathering strength and heading northward on a track toward the East Coast of the United States.
Forecasters say it's still far too early to predict the exact path of the storm and the potential impact, but because some models suggest a "perfect storm" is possible, they are urging residents to monitor the progress of the system.
Hurricane Sandy hit Jamaica on Wednesday evening and is on a course that will carry it across the Bahamas and up the Atlantic Ocean.
National Weather Service forecasters say it's possible that the storm could remain over the open water of the ocean and create minor tidal flooding, big surf and some wind. But it's also possible that a weakening hurricane or tropical storm could merge with cold air and strong upper level winds moving down from Canada. The marriage of the two weather systems — as in the October 1991 "perfect storm" that inspired a book and movie of the same name — could create flooding rain and gusty winds lingering over the region for two or three days during exeptionally high full-moon tides.
In any scenario, the storm will be passing Ocean City early next week — likely on Monday or Tuesday. The region could feel the first effects of the storm on Sunday.
"A major storm with damaging consequences is still on the table from Norfolk to New York City and Boston," Accuweather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski predicts. "However, multiple components have to come together for the perfect storm.The realm of possibilities continues to range from Sandy escaping out to sea, with nothing more than blustery, much cooler air sweeping in, to a dynamic storm turning inland packing coastal flooding, flooding rainfall, high winds, downed trees, power outages, travel mayhem and even Appalachian snow."
If the storm turns inland, the greatest impact would be felt from the center of the system toward the northeast.