By Kate Bilo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Friday morning dawns with a clearer consensus about the projected path and impact of Sandy, and as the cone of uncertainty continues to narrow, our region comes into sharper focus.

The models now all agree that the storm makes landfall between coastal Maryland and Long Island, and the National Hurricane Center’s projected path takes the storm into Southern Delaware. I want to reiterate that it’s still too early to focus on the exact track, because even a shift of a 100 miles or so can make a big difference, especially in regards to coastal flooding.

What now appears to be certain is that we’ll be experiencing damaging wind gusts, likely at least tropical storm force, if not hurricane force, and flooding rain from this storm, especially in the Monday to Tuesday time frame. Secondary impacts include major coastal flooding, especially with a southerly track as water piles into the bays and coastlines at high tide, and numerous tree branches and power lines felled, which could lead to major power outages across the area.

For some, this will be a wind-driven rainstorm. For others, the impacts will be much more dangerous and wider-reaching. Our goal as meteorologists is not to scare people, not to create hysteria, and certainly not to create overwrought hype. We pride ourselves on not being “hypesters” and hopefully our reputation has shown that, meaning that when a serious threat emerges, we hope people will stay with us and take this threat seriously. We can still hope the storm will spare us its worst, but it’s clear now that we have to prepare for a Category 1 hurricane making landfall in our area. This will impact people along the coast and in flood-prone areas more drastically, to be certain.

Remember, Irene was also a Category 1 hurricane, but the path took the storm parallel to the coast so it was a relatively quick-hitting system for our area. This storm will come it at more of an angle, almost perpendicular to the coast thanks to that giant left hook, and that means the stormy conditions will last longer, likely creating more of an impact even further inland. Add to that the interaction with the very strong advancing system to the west, and we certainly need to begin preparing for the worst.

I can tell you that I will be stocking up on batteries and water in my own home, and coming up with a plan in case of power outages – gas up the cars in case you need them for charging phones, etc. In this age of social media, many of us have access to wireless devices that can be useful during the storm – as we did with Irene and last year’s “Snowtober”, we will be tweeting and Facebooking constant updates during the storm, and these can come in handy in the case of lost power. You can follow our whole weather team on Twitter at the following handles: @KathyOrrCBS3 @katebilo @katiefehlinger @CarolCBS3 @JustinDrabick @cbs3_wx.

Again, let’s plan for the worst and hope for the best! We’ll be here to help you through it. Please tweet/FB any questions you may have and we’ll try to answer them as best we can.

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