East Coast Awaits Deadly 'Frankenstorm'

Unprecedented confluence of two severe weather storms, a hurricane and a nor'easter, expected.

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Frankenstorm. S'noreastercane. Snowicane. The October Surprise. Hurricane Sandy. Whatever you want to call the rare weather phenomenon menacing the East Coast, know that it means business.

Among all the speculation about where it'll hit and how powerful it'll be, one thing's for sure about the impending U.S. landfall of Hurricane Sandy, it's a killer.

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After sweeping through Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas, Sandy has killed at least 21 so far. Forecasters say Sandy will continue along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. before taking a sharp left turn and hitting the mid-Atlantic states Monday, where it could collide with the second component of the storm, a cold front that has left a frozen scar on weather maps that stretches from New Mexico to Indiana.

Florida has already begun feeling Sandy's effects. The National Hurricane center has reported sustained winds of 47 mph near Miami, as well as storm surges and pounding waves up the eastern coastline. The conditions have canceled school across most of southern Florida. But those effects pale in comparison to the ones felt in the Caribbean. In Cuba, Sandy's winds reached 115 mph, high enough to smash windows and flatten power lines, knocking out power for thousands and destroying crops. The storm also delayed the court proceedings at Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

The National Weather Service predicts Sandy will sustain much of its strength, saying "winds as high as hurricane-force are expected to lash exposed areas of the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic states," to go along with as much as 10 inches of rainfall. To make matters worse, next week's full moon will mean high tides that could exacerbate the coastal flooding, it said. That combined with record low pressures forecasted for the region, and the northeastern cold front, could cause serious damage and loss of power.

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"The hope we have is that the computer models are not handling this unusual situation well, and are predicting a stronger storm than we get," said Bryan Norcross on a post about the storm at the Weather Underground web site. "But, we can't bet on it. Even a weaker version will likely mean a nightmare for millions."

Utility companies across the East Coast are responding accordingly by amassing equipment and manpower ahead of time. Pepco, which services Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., requested an additional 2,500 power line personnel, according to its Twitter account.

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Seth Cline is a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at scline@usnews.com.