There is still wide variation among models predicting how Tropical Storm Sandy could affect the East Coast, but regardless of how the storm tracks, Maryland could be in for some wind and rain early next week -- potentially at heavy, damaging levels.
If Sandy is swept out to sea as many models predict, another area of low pressure is likely to form over the northeast, according to the likes of AccuWeather's Henry Margusity and local meteorologist Eric the Red. Of course, it's still possible that Sandy strikes somewhere along the East Coast, too, they predict. Any outcome could bring rain between late Sunday and Tuesday.
The confusion among the scenarios being put out by the many forecasting models meteorologists use is, of course, prompting diverse types of warnings and disclaimers from weather watchers.
"I think at this point with the divergence of the models, anyone talking about historic storms or epic storms based on one model is foolishness," Margusity wrote in a blog post Tuesday. "When we start seeing agreement in the modeling, which by the way will take a few more days, we can start talking about impacts."
Still, there is enough to worry about in the models to keep forecasters worked up for now.
Eric the Red suggests many forecasts would bring wind and rain, but nothing as heavy and severe as possible in the worst-case scenario of a Sandy strike. But he cautions that the hurricane models showing Sandy turning out to sea may not be the most appropriate to use, and that there is "still a very real chance that "Sandy" may get scooped up and drawn in closer to the coast by energy aloft."
National Weather Service forecasters are also recognizing the possibility of a big storm. The weather service forecast office in Mount Holly, N.J., which oversees the Philadelphia area including much of Maryland's Eastern Shore, cautions of a "potentially high impact event" with high winds, heavy rain and flooding.
The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center cautions of the possibility that pressure systems across the Atlantic basin form blocking patterns that would make it difficult for Sandy to avoid interacting with an expected oncoming front of polar air -- making a major storm more likely along the East Coast.
It's all still largely a guessing game for a few more days, but it's enough of a risk that Eric the Red, for one, says he is doing what he can to prepare.
"I'll put it to you this way: I ordered a generator last night to be (hopefully) delivered Friday," he wrote in an e-mail. Just in case.