LEWISTOWN - A hurricane churning up the Atlantic Coast has people on edge as it approaches the mid-Atlantic region of the eastern seaboard where it is predicted to make landfall early next week along the southern New Jersey shore.
Those living on the coast will be especially vulnerable to flooding and tropical storm force winds, while further inland in central Pennsylvania, heavy rain, flooding and wind damage from fallen trees is expected.
National Weather Service Meterologist Greg DeVoir said that over the weekend a cold front will push into Pennsylvania, which will interact with hurricane Sandy as it comes ashore on Monday or Tuesday.
"Unfortunately we are looking at a historic type of storm right now," DeVoir said.
DeVoir expects 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts Monday, Tuesday and/or Wednesday, with several inches of rain.
Accuweather Meterologist Tom Kines said the wind is "worrisome" and most likely will not be like a strong thunderstorm that gusts for 10 minutes and fades away.
Kines said there will be a window, sometime between Monday night and possibly Tuesday night, when prolonged wind gusts will probably cause widespread power outages.
Utility companies servicing customers in central Pennsylvania repor they have been preparing for this storm by mobilizing their current staff and bringing in additional utility crews from other states.
Phil Lucas, Mifflin County Director of Emergency Management, said the county will start to see the storm late Sunday night with "light rain and increased winds. Rain and wind will pick up Tuesday through Thursday."
DeVoir said it only takes a couple of inches of rain to increase the risk of flooding and with this storm, the conservative estimate as of Friday was that three to five inches of rain will fall in central Pennsylvania. In portions of western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the possibility of several inches of snow exists in higher elevations.
Kines said he doesn't expect major flooding in the larger rivers, such as the Juniata, but smaller streams and creeks will most likely crest, so residents along low lying areas should keep a close eye on weather conditions.
Lucas encourages drivers to "be aware of streams and flooding on roadways, especially at night."
DeVoir said this "unprecedented" storm could have an extreme impact on central Pennsylvania if the current track holds true through the beginning of next week.
"We are not trying to sensationalize anything ... we are urging people to be prepared," Devoir said.
Kines encourages those who have generators to make sure they are in proper working order this weekend, adding that it is also a good idea to make sure you have flashlights with fresh batteries.
Alan Weaver, Juniata County Director of Emergency Management, reminds people that a cordless home telephone will not work if a power outage occurs. "Make sure to have a backup phone system."