Hurricane Sandy

Tim Durkan

"Today is the calm before the storm," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

The first big storm of the season will hit the Northwest on Saturday, and it's expected to produce winds strong enough to cause power outages and trigger snowfall in the mountains at elevations low enough to cover the passes.

The weekend after Superstorm Sandy, Kathleen Chaney and her son Patrick stumbled upon a bundle of letters while they were walking along the New Jersey shore near her home.

The letters were tied with a pink ribbon and thoroughly soaked. Some of the beautiful handwriting had blurred. Chaney took the bundle home, dried out the letters and began to read them.

They were written to a man named Lynn Farnham, signed by "your loving Dot." Chaney says the letters speak of true love and devotion.

The heavy rain we saw earlier this week was part of an "atmospheric river" carrying moisture across the Pacific, but it's gone now, and off-and-on showers will be the norm for the next few days, says Cliff Mass, KPLU's weather expert and a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Northwest dampness comes as the rest of the country is drying out, and Mass says that's good news for President Obama. He cites research that shows Republicans do better when it's rainy on Election Day, and Democrats do better when it's dry.

There's word from The Associated Press that the Coast Guard "has ordered a formal investigation into the sinking of a famous tall ship off the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy."

PORTLAND, Ore. — A group of Oregon high school students waited out Superstorm Sandy by reading aloud from "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Since we noted Monday that the sign language interpreter for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) was becoming an Internet sensation, her fan base seems to have kept on growing.

People across the New York metropolitan area confronted scenes of devastation from Superstorm Sandy on Tuesday: widespread flooding, power and transportation outages and a wind-swept fire that tore through dozens of houses in the borough of Queens.

New York City has been experiencing the brunt of Sandy. The New York Times reports that one death has been reported when a tree fell on a man's house in Queens. NPR's Margot Adler reports that the New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services estimates four others are dead. The situation in Lower Manhattan sounds dire: Flooding is now widespread and a good part of the city is in the dark.

Economists will need many days — maybe weeks or months — to assess the financial harm being done by Hurricane Sandy. But whatever the final figure, it will be huge, well into the tens of billions of dollars.

More than 60 million Americans are feeling the impact of the weather monster slamming New York, New Jersey, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and many other states. The howling mix of wind, rain and snow is causing massive direct losses, i.e., the destruction of private homes, stores, boats and cars.

"The time for preparing and talking is about over." That's the message from Craig Fugate, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as Hurricane Sandy, the monstrous superstorm that's churning its way to the U.S. East Coast, threatening millions of people.

The dreaded monster storm aiming for the eastern United States is barely keeping its hurricane status, but weather forecasters continue to sound the alarm: Hurricane Sandy will likely be one of the worst storms to strike in many, many years.

Weather forecaster Bryan Norcross at Wunderground isn't warning - he's shouting:

"The threat from this situation is serious as a heart attack for anybody near the rising water."