In his three-plus decades as a meteorologist in the local National Weather Service, erstwhile marine forecaster Jim Eberwine has seen a storm or two.

He is now an emergency manager in Absecon, and this one, he says, scares even him.

He believes it could cause such widespread power outages that some folks could be in the dark all the way into Election Day.

"This could definitely be a multi-day restoration," agreed Karen Muldoon Geus at PECO.

Right now the track of Sandy is following a worst-case course for the Philadelphia region, threatening to make landfall somewhere near the Delmarva Peninsula.

Accu-Weather, which has been generally cautious on this one, is now saying it's the "Storm of the Century" and will become a multi-billion-dollar event.

Under the wrong circumstances, the storm's trajectory would send Delaware Bay waters sloshing toward the Delaware River, and that could mean major flooding.

Regardless, the potential for perhaps "millions" of power outages is there, said Eberwine. PECO already is on full alert.

Our best guess is that Tuesday would be the day to watch.

First, in parts of the region, the fall foliage is peaking spectacularly, and that's not good. When the storm shows up the leaves will be so much unwanted weight on the branches.

Secondly, the rains are going to get started on Sunday with the approach of a front that is going to be one, huge trouble magnet luring in Sandy.

Winds will pick up Monday, and probably get really cranking on Tuesday, which would be the third day of rain. The totals could reach 5 to 10 inches.

The official weather-service forecast for the immediate Philadelphia area is calling for 30 m.p.h. sustained winds throughout the day, with gusts up to 57 m.p.h.

PECO, which also relies on an in-house forecast service, is saying gusts could get as high as 90 m.p.h.

What is particularly troublesome is that the Tuesday winds are forecast to have an easterly component.

That's what the power folks call a "counter wind," especially dangerous when roots are saturated. Trees are used to west winds; winds from the east are harder to handle.

In short, if you're going to be at the store anyway, it's not a bad idea to buy some extra candles this weekend.

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