ALBANY - High winds pose a greater threat than rain in upstate New York as Hurricane Sandy approaches and converges with other storm systems in the Northeast, according to the National Weather Service.
The agency has posted high wind warnings and flood watches across the state, effective Monday morning through Tuesday. Forecasters said widespread power outages are likely when wind gusts topple trees and power lines.
Meteorologist Hugh Johnson said Sunday that less than two inches of rain is predicted between Monday and Tuesday in the Albany area. He said widespread power outages are likely with wind gusts reaching up to 60 mph by Monday evening.
Sandy was expected to come ashore late Monday or early Tuesday, most likely in New Jersey, colliding with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic. Forecasters warned that the resulting megastorm could wreak havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes
As of Sunday afternoon, forecasters predicted one to two inches of rain in the Mohawk and Hudson valleys, one to three inches in the Southern Tier, two to three inches in western New York, two to four in the Adirondacks and as much as six inches in parts of the Catskills.
The wind is expected to whip up starting Monday morning or afternoon with sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph and gusts of 50 to 60 mph - up to 75 mph on higher terrain. Lakeshore flooding along lakes Erie and Ontario is predicted due to wind-whipped waves.
Officials are keeping an eye on the Hudson River, which is tidal up to Troy and is likely to rise with the Atlantic storm surge. Johnson said the river was already rising in Poughkeepsie on Sunday as the hurricane churned toward the Delaware and New Jersey coasts.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the New York Army and Air National Guard will deploy up to 1,175 troops starting Sunday to help local authorities respond to storm damage in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an open letter Sunday to vendors in the storm's path warning against price gouging for necessities that are in high demand as people prepare for the storm.
Amtrak canceled Northeast Corridor train service north of New York City starting Sunday evening and virtually all service on the Eastern Seaboard on Monday. An exception is the Maple Leaf, which will operate only between Toronto and Albany-Rensselaer.
Residents, especially in areas hardest hit by Tropical Storm Irene flooding last fall, nervously made preparations and stocked up on emergency supplies.
"People are very nervous especially after Irene," said Carol Slater of Prattsville, a Catskill Mountain village that was all but obliterated by seven feet of floodwater during the tropical storm. "A lot of people have just gotten back on their feet from rebuilding from Irene . To think they might have to rebuild again is really hard."
Slater said residents of flood-prone areas are talking about going to stay with friends or relatives who live on higher ground. She lives on high ground and expects some relatives staying with her if heavy rain arrives.
Stores are selling out of generators, flashlights, batteries and other emergency supplies.
"You can't find water anywhere, people are buying it all up," Slater said.