Despite Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials trying to keep everyone cool, calm and collected, weatherman, websites and weather aficionados are freaking out about Frankenstorm, the hybrid hurricane/winter storm that is due to hit the city in the next few days. “Be prepared for this storm,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Bob Smerbeck, who says winds could rise above 75 MPH. “We are looking at it as a historic storm that will cause catastrophic damage over a large area.” And forecasters are now predicting that if Sandy maintains its strength, the city could be in for at least three days of nonstop rain, winds and snow.

Hurricane Sandy tried to pull a fast one on everyone this morning: Sandy was briefly downgraded to a tropical storm (when winds dipped below 70 MPH) earlier today...only to pick right back up and retake its hurricane moniker hours later. “[The storm’s initial loss of power] absolutely does not mean the threat to the eastern U.S. has decreased,” said Brian McNoldy of The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. “Quite the opposite, in fact. It is forecast to reorganize and strengthen on its inevitable approach to the East Coast.”

So far, Sandy's winds and rains have been blamed for 41 deaths in several Caribbean countries—most people were killed by falling trees and building collapses. Here's some of the possible scenarios for Frankenstorm in our area, according to Smerbeck: if the storm comes in from the southeast directly off the ocean, it will bring a "huge disaster" by pushing storm surges directly into the Jersey Shore and New York Harbor. If it hits closer to Long Island first, it will probably have less of an impact on the city.

As Bloomberg discussed during his press conference yesterday, the city has begun preparations for the storm, although they're not going to jump ahead just yet: "Whenever or whatever or wherever this storm comes ashore, our city is very likely to feel its effects in the form of high tide, high wind, and heavy rainful lasting for several days." He added that the next update will likely occur late Saturday afternoon: "There's no evacuation order now, but if that changes, we'll make an announcment giving further details. This is done for your safety." The MTA has also begun preparing, but have not shut down service yet.

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency late yesterday, and things are starting to move along more briskly in other nearby areas. Already, a mandatory evacuation order has been issued for Fire Island. “We are getting ready, as always,” said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano. “We are preparing for the worst. We will hope for the best. But rest assured, we have many dedicated emergency management professionals working to secure our county and your public safety.”