Madison residents check in with family on East Coast

Scientists in Madison study storm

Post-tropical storm Sandy doesn’t have to be hitting Madison for people in the area to feel the effects.

Sandy has many people dialing up friends and family on the East Coast, checking in as the storm makes landfall.

Tom and Kay Weidholz are no strangers to different area codes. Three of their seven children live in other states to the east, and they’ve been touching base with them since the storm traveled up the coast.

On the phone with their daughter from New Jersey, they talked over the conditions and how long the electricity would be out. She told her parents about the gallons upon gallons of water they have stocked up and the propane stove she’s ready to fire up.

“If they were not prepared, I would be worried. If it were something that came on suddenly — but they’ve had plenty of time to prepare for this,” Kay Weidholz said.

However, as Kay Weidholz and her husband watched the news and stared at the pictures of the already flooded streets and high-speed winds whipping through trees, they said they hope their confidence in their children prevails.

Oliver Pentinmaki was without electricity in Boston when he talked to the WISC-TV newsroom over Skype. He just moved from Madison to Boston about six months ago, but he doesn’t regret switching from the blizzard conditions to this storm.

“This is exciting for me,” Pentinmaki said.

Pentinmaki is about eight miles away from the Massachusetts coastline, but he said beach erosion is expected to be a significant issue. Waves are supposed to reach around 25 feet there. High winds rip through the trees in Pentinmaki’s backyard.

“The strongest winds you’d see in a Midwest thunderstorm, but just relentless. It just hasn’t stopped,” Pentinmaki said.

Pentinmaki said he and his fiancee didn’t prepare as much as others, but he thinks the infrastructure is in place to protect him and others during this storm.

“We probably have about five gallons of water standing by,” Pentinmaki said. “We also have our propane stove at the ready, so we can heat food if need be.”

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, scientists with the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies filled a small room they call “the cave.” Colorful images played across screens in front of the crowd as they studied Sandy.

“It’s kind of an unprecedented event unfolding here,” Derrick Herndon, with CIMSS, told the crowd.

Advisories reached from Bermuda up to Lake Michigan. Meteorologists said they are seeing wind gusts exceeding 80 mph, heavy rains, potentially record-breaking surges and even blizzard warnings. Scientists are also noting the acceleration and size of the storm.

“It’s a very large, powerful low-pressure system that covers 1,000 miles,” Herndon said.

CIMSS also discussed the almost eerie accuracy of the forecasts of Sandy’s path, with many predicting the direction of the storm despite its unusual movement.