WASHINGTON — Faced with the growing inevitability of the most forceful October storms in at least a generation, people from North Carolina to New England and as far west as Ohio did all they could Friday to get ready.
Emergencies were declared, line crews were summoned, shelters were prepared and command centers opened. People stockpiled food, bought generators and chain saws, taped windows against the wind's blast, and prepared to hunker down as Hurricane Sandy conspired with the jet stream and a nor'easter to deliver several days of misery and destruction to the most populated section of the nation.
The two big weather models that track storms came to a consensus Friday that the storm would turn inland somewhere to the east of the Chesapeake Bay and drench at least eight states as it drives across the Great Lakes into Canada. It is expected to turn into a blizzard before it gets there, dropping up to a foot of snow.
Although Sandy's top winds diminished to 80 mph Friday, that loss of power was seen as temporary.
"That absolutely does not mean the threat to the eastern U.S. has decreased," said Brian McNoldy of The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. "Quite the opposite, in fact. It is forecast to reorganize and strengthen on its inevitable approach to the East Coast."
Rain is expected to spread over much of the region Sunday afternoon as the leading edge of the storm advances toward land, and people with events planned then and in the days to follow said they were pondering canceling them.
The first of it may fall on thousands of runners and hundreds of departing horses, as the annual Marine Corps Marathon flows through the streets of the District of Columbia and, later in the day, the last of more than 500 horses leave Verizon Center in downtown Washington after the Washington International Horse Show. "Right now, we're going on with all of our events as planned. Runners will come rain, wind, whatever," said Tami Faram, the marathon's spokeswoman. "We'll just have to wait and play that by ear."