Fierce winds and heavy rain expected to hit New York on Sandy anniversary

NEW YORK — Near hurricane-force wind gusts and heavy rain are set to batter the Northeast on Sunday — the five-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.

Tropical Storm Philippe formed near western Cuba a few days ago and was racing up the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast early Sunday.

“We are in an exceptional season. We saw Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida and then we [had] Maria across Puerto Rico. Now we got another tropical storm,” said CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis.

Philippe was “racing” towards the northeast, the National Hurricane Center said in a Sunday morning advisory. The storm was moving away from Florida at about 31 mph, with sustained winds of about 50 mph.

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Philippe is not expected to become a hurricane but will produce average rainfall totals of 4-6 inches throughout the region, and up to 10 inches in isolated areas of the Northeast and New England, forecasters said. About 45 million people in the Northeast are currently under a Flash Flood Watch.

Wind gusts in some cities could reach 60-65 mph late Sunday.

“We are still looking at a very disorganized system but it would still have a little bit of a punch,” Maginnis said.

The storm’s movement was expected to accelerate Sunday afternoon and continue into Monday, the NHC’s advisory said. While the storm will strengthen slightly, it is expected to be a post-tropical cyclone by Sunday night.

The storm is expected to continue to move northeast and essentially merge with a low pressure system coming from the Great Lakes region. The result will be a nor’easter-type storm producing high wind and rain for parts of eastern New York and New England late Sunday into Monday.

CNN forecasters anticipate Philippe will move into the western Atlantic Ocean by Monday afternoon.

Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey and New York five years ago Sunday.

“This is not going to be the equivalent of Sandy. We would hardly see that or expect anything like that but we are expecting very some very gusty winds, heavy downpours, considerable power outages,” Maginnis said.

The National Hurricane Center says the storm had already been soaking the Bahamas, Cuba and South Florida Saturday and Sunday morning while moving north at nearly 30 mph.

Forecasters said up to 10 inches of rain could fall in areas of the Cayman Islands and Cuba. South Florida might get up to as many as 6 inches of precipitation.