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When the weatherman really wants to be heard

There are almost certainly thousands of residents along the Eastern Seaboard in harm's way right now unlikely to budge, no matter how big Hurricane Sandy gets.

It was probably for those very people that the Sunday afternoon Public Information Statement out of the National Weather Service office in Mt. Holly, N.J., was issued, in all capital letters. New Jersey residents sit directly in the storm's projected path.

"If you are reluctant, think about your loved ones, think about the emergency responders who will be unable to reach you when you make the panicked phone call to be rescued, think about the rescue/recovery teams who will rescue you if you are injured or recover your remains if you do not survive," the statement reads, before adding at the end: "Sandy is an extremely dangerous storm. There will be major property damage, injuries are probably unavoidable, but the goal is zero fatalities."

The warning also focuses on the massive size of the storm, and tells people to "not focus on the exact center of the storm as all areas will have significant impacts. This has the potential to be an historic storm, with widespread wind damage and power outages, inland and coastal flooding, and massive beach erosion."

There is a precedent for warnings like this from government forecasters. Most famously, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit, National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Ricks sent what became a barely noticed but shockingly prescient warning to the general public.

"Hurricane Katrina...a most powerful hurricane with unprecedented strength...rivaling the intensity of Hurricane Camille of 1969. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks...perhaps longer," Ricks wrote. "Airborne debris will be widespread...and may include heavy items such as household appliances and even light vehicles. Sport utility vehicles and light trucks will be moved. The blown debris will create additional destruction. Persons...pets...and livestock exposed to the winds will face certain death if struck."

The warning also predicted widespread building failures and massive, long-lasting power outages.

When asked about the warning afterwards, Ricks told NBC News: "I would much rather have been wrong in this one. I would much rather be talking to you and taking the heat and crying wolf."

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