Update 12:30 p.m. Saturday - Hurricane Sandy briefly diminished Saturday morning and turned into a tropical storm, but the storm has since picked up speed and is a hurricane once again.
"These subtle upward and downward status changes make no difference in the major, widespread impacts we expect in the next few days," The Weather Channel reported.
Tropical storm-force winds are already hitting the North Carolina coast as Hurricane Sandy moves north-northeast at 9 mph from its current location more than 300 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C. Sustained winds are at 75 mph with higher gusts.
Clouds will increase throughout the afternoon Saturday and scattered showers may start around 1 a.m. Sunday. The weather during the Marine Corps Marathon Sunday morning will be cloudy with scattered showers, temperatures in the mid-50s and wind from the north at 10 to 20 mph.
Temperatures Sunday will remain in the 50s as the rain and wind both intensify.
Gov. Bob McDonnell will be speaking to the media at 1 p.m. today about storm preparations being taken by the Commonwealth. Virginia, D.C. and Maryland officials all declared states of emergency Friday.
As is to be expected ahead of strong storms, many grocery stores are running low on water, batteries and ice.
The City of Alexandria has asked its residents not to rake leaves to the curb ahead of this storm, as those leaves could block storm drains.
Verizon, which experienced massive 911 outages following the June 29 derecho, says it is ready for this storm.
For complete storm coverage, including preparation tips and more, go to the news tab above and click on our Hurricane Sandy section. Also follow Northern Virginia Patch Weather on Facebook.
Original Post - 5:30 a.m. Saturday
Although Hurricane Sandy is likely to weaken into a tropical storm Saturday as it tracks north, forecasters continue to warn that the hurricane hybrid dubbed "Frankenstorm" will deliver a serious punch to Northern Virginia, the District and Maryland as it moves through the area in the coming days.
The hurricane appears to be starting to morph into the much-discussed combined weather system.
"Sandy is showing characteristics of a hybrid cyclone," the National Weather Service noted in its Friday night discussion of the storm posted on its Web site. "That means it has some attributes of a hurricane and some of a nor’easter," the Capital Weather Gang explained in its blog.
Early Saturday morning the hurricane was located about 375 miles south/southeast of Charleston, with winds blowing at 75 miles per hour as it continues its trek north at about 7 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. A turn to the northeast is expected Saturday night or Sunday.
Hurricane-force winds extend out 70 miles from the eye of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extend out 435 miles, according to the National Weather Service.
WJLA's meteorologist Bob Ryan explained it this way on the station's weather blog that as the storm continues to move north, "It will interact with a strong wave in the jet stream and then almost go through a 'metamorphosis' from a weak tropical storm into a monster more classic East Coast winter-like coastal storm."
Gov. Bob McDonnell wasn't taking any chances with potential damage the storm could bring to Virginia. He declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm on Friday.
Rain, Wind to Begin Sunday Night
Starting Saturday, the likely scenario will see winds start to pick up speed in Northern Virginia with 20 mile-per-hour gusts Saturday ramping up to 30 to 35 miles-per-hour Sunday and then 50 to 60 miles per hour on Monday and Tuesday, forecasters say.
If predictions hold Northern Virginia will see the heaviest rain beginning Sunday night, forecasters say, continuing off and on until it tapers off on Wednesday, with several inches of rain before it is over.
Monday and Tuesday will see strong winds up to 60 miles per hour, heavy rain and likely highs of about 50 degrees, forecasters predict.
Rivers could see continued flooding Wednesday through Friday, the National Weather Service warned.
NBC-4 meteorologist Tom Kiernein notes on the station's weather team Facebook page that strongest winds may come Tuesday morning.
For complete coverage of Hurricane Sandy, go the news menu above and click on our Hurricane Sandy special section.