I'll be honest, I had a lot of personal investment in Snor'eastercane as the name for the incoming storm Sandy. The NWS and everyone else seem to be committed to the admittedly more elegant Frankenstorm. Oh well.
If you're in the path of the storm then your time to start preparing is now, and there are approximately 66,549,869 in the "cone of uncertainty," which means people with a reasonable chance of experiencing the center of circulation of the storm. You could easily experience severe conditions if you're outside this cone given the size of the system.
Don't panic, prepare. There's still a chance the system weakens or changes direction. Preparing now gives you a jump on everyone, but don't freak out if you don't have time to do anything today. We still have a few days.
Here's where to start based on our experience with hurricanes, although this is such a novel experience we're sort of winging it.
- Determine your risk: Obviously, it's still a few days out so forecasters have a harder time determining exactly where this thing will land, though for most people actually doesn't matter. The storm is gigantic. The wind field of tropical storm force winds is roughly the size of Georgia and South Carolina combined… and it's probably going to get bigger. The biggest risk to life, initially, will be the storm surge, so if you live along the coast from North Carolina to Cape Cod consult local officials and state emergency management agencies (find them here). If they say evacuate you should probably evacuate, but you'll have to judge for yourself.
- Get gas soon: As pointed out this morning, much of the East Coast's refining capability is right in the center of the storm's projected path. Fuel shortages are common when you have refining disruptions, prolonged power outages (can't pump without power), and extreme blockages of roadways. Given the number of trees with their leaves still on them and the potential wind, it's possible we'll have all three of these conditions simultaneously. At some point there will likely be a run on fuel and it'll be tougher to get, fill up now and you don't have to worry about a line.
- Kit yourself out: Here's ready.gov's basic list, but adjust as you need it. If you need (or someone you care for needs) prescriptions, get them today. It's a fun after-work activity. You should already have one of these, but supplies will dwindle as we get closer to the event.
- You don't have the power: Trees + wind + power lines = no power. Unless you're a hospital, don't expect to get power back immediately. If this storm is as bad as forecast this could be one of the biggest power outages in recent memory. If you need power for some reason now is the time to make plans for that. If you just like power it's probably best to just stock up on batteries.
- May the spam be with you: Now is the time to stock up on food you don't need a refrigerator to store or an oven to cook (camping stoves, used properly, are great for this). I'd recommend finding foods you won't get sick of after a few days (crackers + tuna and crackers + pbj gets old fast). Be creative. You can make a great salad with mayo packets, canned corn, canned black beans, and canned pico or salsa (Rotel). Best case scenario we don't get the worst of it and you'll have a kit for the next one.
- Get some bored games: A board game is what you use to kill an hour with friends. A bored game is something you can play for hours on end when you're stuck at home with no power. Bored games on the iPad don't count when you don't have power. Scrabble, RISK, Settlers of Catan, and Monopoly are good for this as they tend to run a little long.
Don't get Sorry! unless you want to get stabbed.
- Stay tuned to reliable news sources If we're stuck inside all weekend we'll probably update you here, but Jalopnik is not the ideal news source for weather-related information. In addition to the TV news, stay tuned to WXUnderground and Weather.com. Obviously, no power=no internet, so find a good radio station and make sure you've got an old school AM/FM/NOAA radio that takes batteries. There's a lot about this storm we don't know yet.
Any other steps we missed? Share them in Kinja below.