News: Hurricane force winds expected in DC area Monday: Impacts already felt; Federal offices closed
WASHINGTON - Hurricane Sandy will make its presence known to the Washington area beginning late tonight and linger into Wednesday according to forecasters.
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling is following the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s guidance and has suggested that all but emergency essential personnel remain at home, off the roads and safe.
The storm’s impact in the D.C. area is expected to be a period of 12 to 14 hours of extremely strong winds, that many residents have never experienced before, according to estimates.
Forecasters expect that Sandy will hit the New Jersey coast on Monday evening, but impacts to the D.C. area will begin later tonight. Sustained winds of 30-55 mph. with hurricane force gusts of 60-70 mph. are predicted from 8 a.m. Monday to 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Throughout tonight and into tomorrow, conditions will progressively get worse. The hurricane force winds are expected in time for the evening rush hour.
The storm’s biggest impact on the D.C. area, including JBAB, is expected to be noon Monday to 2 a.m. Tuesday. Winds are expected to then come from the southwest with high winds through Tuesday evening. While the intensity of the winds are expected to be strong (40-50 mph. gusts), they are not expected to be as severe as on Monday.
Rain is predicted to get stronger in intensity later tonight into dawn tomorrow. Four to eight inches of rain is expected to fall at a rate of between one-half to one-inch per hour. There is only a slight chance that rainfall rates will reach two inches per hour in some areas, forecasters predict.
The rainfall over a long duration, saturating the soil, coupled with the high winds will likely cause extreme tree damage and uprooting of trees in D.C. metropolitan area, officials suggested.
Navy Capt. Anthony T. Calandra, JBAB commander, stated, “The weather forecast indicates that this will be a very serious situation. All but emergency essential personnel at JBAB should stay in their homes, off the roads and allow emergency crews to do their jobs. Plan now for potential power outages and other emergencies.”
North and northwestern winds through Monday night are expected to prevent a tidal surge in the Potomac River and the likelihood of severe flooding. Freshwater runoff from upstream areas is expected to empty into the river Wednesday through Friday.
Tuesday’s winds are expected to be westerly and decrease throughout the day to 30-40 mph. by evening, the forecasters predict. Winds during Halloween morning are forecast to be approximately 15 to 25mph.
Most transit agencies in the area, including MetroBus, MetroRail, MARC and Virginia Railway Express have suspended their service on Monday due to safety concerns for its personnel and riders.
Electric utility providers have called in extra crews to aid in restoration after the storm hits the area, but will be hampered by high winds and the need to abide by federal safety guidelines regarding the use of their bucket trucks in winds higher than 35 mph. In the meantime, other restoration work will continue on the ground, according to one utility official.
Officials in some Maryland and Virginia jurisdictions have prepositioned emergency equipment at shelters, in case they become needed. In two D.C. area Maryland counties, officials plan to open a shelter as early as tonight.
OPM will make a decision after 5 p.m. Monday on whether or not D.C. area federal offices will be open Tuesday.