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Hurricane Sandy transforms into a sub-tropica -

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ELEANOR HALL: Jason Samenow is a meteorologist for The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. He explained to Connie Agius how Hurricane Sandy has transformed into a sub-tropical storm.

JASON SAMENOW: Hurricane Sandy is actually no longer a hurricane. The national hurricane centre in the US has changed its classification to a post-tropical storm. So it no longer has tropical characteristics, in other words, it no longer has the characteristic eye, the thunderstorms around the eye, instead it's become more of an asymmetric swirl.

And so it's more characteristic of a mid-latitude storm now as opposed to a tropical storm.

The intensity hasn't changed that much today, it went up a little bit this morning and it decreased a little bit in intensity this evening. But it remains a very powerful, severe storm for the US.

CONNIE AGIUS: So just how dangerous is this storm system at the moment, as it stands?

JASON SAMENOW: Well it's producing a whole lot of wind and a whole lot of rain and one of the most significant impacts we've felt has been the storm surge, which is the onslaught of water which is pushed ashore when a system like this makes landfall.

So in Battery Park in New York City, water levels are more than 12 feet above normal right now, so you're having just a tremendous amount of water running into these low-lying areas.

CONNIE AGIUS: So how does this compare to Hurricane Katrina?

JASON SAMENOW: Well Hurricane Katrina was a more powerful storm in terms of its peak winds, it was a category three hurricane at landfall and just a day before it was downgraded to category three, it was actually a category five.

So it a monstrous storm in the Gulf of Mexico, with winds over 138 miles an hour. This storm's peak winds are on the order of 80 miles per hour, so it's not as powerful in terms of wind and its storm surge also isn't as big, but it's also impacting, this storm, Sandy, a much more populated area, in other words, the eastern seaboard from Washington D.C., including Baltimore, Philadelphia and all the way up to New York City, are dealing with these severe impacts. That's over 60 million people.

CONNIE AGIUS: And what elements have worked together to make this storm system so dangerous and so unique?

JASON SAMENOW: Well this particular storm is unique in that it's a - it was born in the tropics, and it was as I've spoken about originally a hurricane. But it actually today, merged with a strong cold front that originated from the arctic, so you had this huge collision of cold, arctic air with this juicy, moist, warm tropical system and that really created a sort of an explosive storm and the storm yesterday and today, it intensified quite a bit.

And the storm is remarkable for not only its intensity but its size. (Inaudible) storm force winds with this particular storm extended a thousand miles across which is a huge distance.

ELEANOR HALL: Meteorologist for the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Jason Samenow.