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Forecasters Warn Of ‘Huge Weather Event’ On Track To Hit Area This Weekend

Early Reports Predict 5 Inches Of Rain, 65 MPH Wind Gusts For NYC Possible
National Hurricane Center map of hurricane Sandy track,as of 5 p.m. update Oct. 24, 2012 (credit: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov)

National Hurricane Center map of hurricane Sandy track,as of 5 p.m. update Oct. 24, 2012 (credit: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A potentially huge weather event could hit the Tri-State Area as early as Sunday night.

The storm system is forecast to linger in the area through Tuesday and could bring with it severe winds, rains and storm surges.

Forecasters are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Sandy as the storm spins near Jamaica.

The track of the storm is a bit sketchy, but is expected to solidify in the next 24 to 48 hours, CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn reported Wednesday evening.

A cold front was set to advance east from the northern Plains states, and if it arrives in time, the front could push Hurricane Sandy out to sea. But if the front lags behind, the East Coast, including the New York City area, could be in for a direct hit.

The worst case scenario, as displayed in the European model for the storm, had the hurricane slamming the New York City area with 5 inches of rain from Sunday through Tuesday, and wind gusts of 65 mph. A storm surge would also erupt in that model, and some snow could also be seen.

MORE: Keep An Eye On The Forecast 

The weekend is forecast to be a wash-out, Quinn said Wednesday evening.

EXTRA: National Hurricane Center Models

National Hurricane Center Chief Hurricane Specialist James Franklin said a hit on the Northeast was growing more likely, and some other models are beginning to match up to the European model.

“We are starting to see more and more indications that as we go look into the early part of next week that the guidance has been shifting a little bit closer to the northeast, increasing the threat there,” Franklin said in an Associated Press interview broadcast by 1010 WINS.

AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Bowers concurred, forecasting that there is an excellent chance that this storm hits our area.

The system could bring tropical storm-force winds and flooding when it reaches the Tri-State, Bowers said.

Emergency officials in the area were preparing Wednesday.

“We’re carefully monitoring the forecast in cooperation with our partners with the National Weather Service,” said New Jersey Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Mary Goepfert. “We’re in touch with the county Office of Emergency Management, and we’re starting discussions regarding ramping up resources and assets in the event the storm should hit the state.”

Sandy has already caused widespread damage across the Caribbean. On Wednesday evening, it was causing torrential rain, 38-foot waves and winds of 80 mph in Jamaica.

The category 1 storm is being blamed for at least one death in Haiti.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Sandy could hit Florida’s southeastern coastline with tropical storm-force winds by Friday, as the storm tracks north.

Stay with CBSNewYork.com for full coverage of the impending storm