What makes Sandy a 'superstorm?'

October 29, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Hurricane Sandy remained only a Category 1 as of Monday at 11:30 a.m. CDT, but the slow-moving hurricane is on a collision course with two other weather systems to form an epic superstorm. Those three systems combined will create what meteorologists are calling a life-threatening storm surge with coastal hurricane winds and heavy Appalachian snows.

"This is a superstorm of unprecedented levels," ABC7 Meteorologist Tracy Butler said, "because we just have nothing to compare it to for that region. Record low pressure levels could be set for that area of the country suffering the greatest impact."

Hurricane Sandy will make landfall in Cape May, New Jersey, on Monday evening or night, with wind gusts of up to 90 miles an hour. At landfall, Sandy will combine with those other systems to become Superstorm Sandy.

"Fueled even more so by temperature contrast, this will result in billions of dollars of flooding and damage. This Nor'easter combined with the hurricane is going to cover a massive amount of land over the next several days, possibly as long as Thursday or Friday," Butler said.

That superstorm will affect the weather of cities as many as 1,000 miles away from the center of Sandy, including Chicago and Indiana, where gale and storm warnings are already in effect. According to the National Weather Service, waves on Lake Michigan could be 10 to 18 feet by Monday afternoon, and as much as 20 to 33 feet on Tuesday.

"Rain is not going to be a thing for us, wind and waves will be," ABC7 Meteorologist Tracy Butler said. "The wind will pick up today, but tomorrow we're looking at prolonged, strong, sustained and gusty winds."

A high wind watch will go into effect in the Chicago area overnight at 1 a.m. Tuesday and remain in effect until 7 p.m. A lakeshore flood warning also goes into effect at 1 a.m., but continues until Wednesday afternoon.

Dangerous conditions are expected along piers and breakwalls in southwestern Michigan and northwestern Indiana.

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