The Northeast is now bracing for a potentially dangerous northeaster expected to bring rain, punishing winds and high tides that could add to the misery of residents still reeling from Hurricane Sandy and set back the restoration of power.
Forecasters are tracking a storm developing off the Southeast coast that is expected to make a turn northward and intensify on Tuesday before hitting the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern States by Wednesday, and continuing into Thursday.
The National Weather Service is predicting that the storm could produce sustained winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour and gusts of up to 60 m.p.h. in the New York region by Wednesday afternoon. The storm could cause more power failures and minor to moderate flooding along the coastal areas that were devastated by the hurricane last week, said David Stark, a meteorologist with the Weather Service.
Mr. Stark said that tidal surges of 2 1/2 feet to 4 1/2 feet at the peak of high tide on Wednesday night could behave unpredictably along the South Shore of Long Island and western Long Island Sound, landscapes altered by Hurricane Sandy.
“Some of the dunes are gone, so there is some definite uncertainty there on what the impacts will be with a moderate coastal storm surge,” he said.
Temperatures along the coast are expected to dip into the 30s on Wednesday night but should climb into the 50s on Thursday. The system is expected to move out by the afternoon.
Inland areas in the lower Hudson Valley, northeastern New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut could see a mix of sleet and snow early on Wednesday, changing to rain later.
The storm and its damage are not expected to approach the hurricane’s devastation. But given the harm last week to homes, businesses, coastlines, the electric grid and the spirits of people without power for a week, a second storm seems certain to compound the damage.
The utilities worked on Monday to prepare for the storm while still battling to restore power lost during the hurricane.
Ralph LaRossa, president of Public Service Electric and Gas, which still has 375,000 customers without power in New Jersey, said a storm with winds of 55 m.p.h., if it hits, could knock down more overhead wires and halt the restoration.
“Many of the repairs that we’ve made to the system will be challenged,” Mr. LaRossa said.
Michael Clendenin, a spokesman for Consolidated Edison, said it was quite likely that some people who had lost power and had it restored could lose it again. He said 150,000 customers in New York City and Westchester County remained without power, down from 950,000. Out-of-state utility workers are still arriving from as far away as California, he said, but it is very likely that the workload is about to get worse.
"All those 2,500 utility workers from around the country are never going to be able to leave,” he said. “They’re here permanently.”