NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Tri-State Area officials are bracing for what some forecasters are calling a "Frankenstorm" expected to hit most of the East Coast next week with heavy rain, high winds, flooding, coastal surges and potentially widespread power outages.
Forecasters said it is an unusual mix of Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean, an early winter storm in the west and a blast of arctic air from the north. They are all are predicted to collide, sloshing and parking over the country's most populous coastal corridor.
1010 WINS' Stan Brooks reports
Hurricane Sandy already lashed the central Bahamas on Thursday night with violent winds and torrential rains, after raging through the Caribbean, where it caused at least 21 deaths.
Eleven were reported dead in Cuba while nine deaths were reported in Haiti and one in Jamaica. While Hurricane Sandy has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, CBS 2's Lonnie Quinn cautioned people should not "get caught up in semantics."
"Everything's coming together in the worst way possible for us," Quinn said of the storm track.
Forecasters warned that Sandy will likely blend with a winter storm to cause a super storm in the eastern U.S. next week whose effects will be felt along the entire Atlantic Coast from Florida to Maine and inland to Ohio.
The worst of the storm could be focused around New York City and New Jersey and should peak early Tuesday, but it will stretch into midweek. The hurricane part of the storm is likely to come ashore somewhere in New Jersey on Tuesday morning.
Quinn said the "slow-moving" storm could creep into our area late Sunday night with intensifying rain. By Tuesday around 2 p.m., rain, wind and storm surge will be at its heaviest. By Wednesday around 8 a.m., the weather system will ease into light showers and become breezy, Quinn said.
Forecaster Jim Cisco of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, "We don't have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting."
Some meteorologists fear that with some trees still leafy and the potential for snow, power outages could last to Election Day. They say it has all the earmarks of a storm that could cause $1 billion worth of damage.
Some have compared it to the so-called "Perfect Storm" that struck off the coast of New England in 1991, but Cisco said that one didn't hit as populated an area and is not comparable to what the East Coast may be facing.
Officials around the Tri-State Area said they are keeping a close eye on the weather.
"If it seems like it's going to head in our direction, you're going to be seeing a lot of preparedness messaging and information coming out of our office," New Jersey Office of Emergency Management spokesperson Mary Goepfert said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to closely monitor the progress of Hurricane Sandy and prepare for potential storm impacts.
"I have directed state agencies and New York's emergency operations personnel to begin preparations now for the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy," Cuomo said Thursday.
Jersey Central Power & Light, which was criticized for its response to Tropical Storm Irene, said it has placed its employees on alert to be prepared for extended shifts and is monitoring Sandy.
PSE&G said it has also taken a number of steps to ensure crews are ready to respond to any power outages that may occur.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday said the city has opened its Office of Emergency Management situation room and has taken other precautions.
LISTEN: WCBS 880's Rich Lamb With Mayor Bloomberg
"What we are doing is we are taking the kind of precautions you should expect us to do, and I don't think anyone should panic. It's probably not going to be a great weekend for outdoor activity Sunday into Monday, maybe. Saturday should be OK," he said.
The Long Island Power Authority has begun coordinating efforts with state, New York City, county and local emergency management organizations, spokesman Mark Gross said.
"We urge customers not to take this storm lightly and start making preparations as this storm could result in a multi-day outage for parts of our service territory," Gross said.
WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau: Danbury Readies For Sandy
Danbury, Conn. Mayor Mark Boughton said a lot has changed since the area was hit hard by the freak Halloween snowstorm in 2011.
When the storm hit a year ago, the city was left with power outages that lasted for more than two weeks in some areas.
Boughton said he believes Connecticut Light & Power, which was also criticized for its response, is now up to the challenge if another big storm hits.
"They've done a much better job managing power restoration in the few micro-storms that we've had since the big one last year," Boughton told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. "So I'm optimistic that while there will still be a delay, that they'll have a little bit better system to be able to handle it. We'll be able to identify where the work crews are, we'll know where they are, what they're doing, and their next stop will be."
The mayor said residents should begin their own preparations now.
For more information about emergency preparedness, visit www.fema.gov.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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