Hurricane Sandy is coming with its wind and rain, but the biggest problem it's likely to inflict is an indirect one - power outages, according to an National Weather Service meteorologist.
With gusts up to 60 mph Monday, leaves on the trees to create drag and 3 to 5 inches of rain to soften the ground, whole trees are likely to topple, taking power lines, according to Kevin Fitzgerald and the National Weather Service website, which posted flood and wind watches.
Because the ground is dry now, it can handle about 3 inches of rain, so if it goes over a little, there will be nothing more than mild to moderate flooding, Fitzgerald predicted.
"But if the power is out for a few days, that's a big deal," he said.
There may be rain this weekend from an "old frontal boundary," but that will be only scattered showers, he said.
Sandy is the big problem, and it's heading our way with an unusual movement - a left turn toward New Jersey from out in the Atlantic, according to Fitzgerald.
Normally, "upper level steering" winds guide hurricanes like Sandy in another direction, farther out to sea, Fitzgerald said.
This time, though, an upper-level low-pressure system that is "diving into the Ohio Valley," will absorb the hurricane, pulling it into Pennsylvania, he said.
The flood watch takes effect late today and runs through Tuesday for the Mirror coverage area, according to the NWS website.
More than 6 inches of rain could fall in some locations, the site predicted.
The high wind watch takes effect from Monday morning and runs through Tuesday, according to the website.
There will be sustained winds of about 30 mph, Fitzgerald said.
City workers were planning to take down the big Gospel Hill flag to protect it from ripping in the wind, according to City Clerk Linda Rickens Schellhammer.
The city may activate its emergency operations center. Its number is 949-2550.
The city provides emergency updates by email and text for those who register for that service at www.altoonapa.gov. The city also posts public safety alerts on the left column of the front page on its website.
Phoenix Fire Department in Hollidaysburg will begin staffing its fire station at 10 p.m. today.