Weather Channel's Jim Cantore Calls Covering Hurricane Sandy 'Uncharted Territory'

When B&C last saw The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore at the network’s fall social a month ago, he was itching for the next big storm to cover. With Hurricane Sandy currently barreling down the East Coast, he has definitely found it.

“It’s unprecedented. Uncharted territory,” Cantore said by phone from Battery Park City in lower Manhattan, where he has been reporting from since Saturday afternoon.

He says the expected record surge in New York City and the Great Lakes makes the storm about twice as big as Hurricane Irene, which struck the region in August 2011.

“You could probably put two Irenes inside this thing. Maybe two and a half,” he said. “So the size of this enormous.”

The size of the storm means that its effects are already being felt with high winds and rising water in New York even though it is still over 300 miles away, making for long days outside reporting in increasingly brutal conditions on Monday and into Tuesday.

“I’m out here for 20 hours,” Cantore said. “This is like going into a military operation here, you’ve got to have your gear.”

Storm tracking doesn’t leave time for much else for the next few days, with Cantore saying he will sleep “probably on a park bench until the water comes up,” if at all. “Sleeping’s not an option right now.”

Cantore and the rest of the reporters covering the storm also have to deal with viewers who weathered Hurricane Irene about a year ago, and may be feeling complacent when that storm didn’t have the drastic effects in some areas that were predicted. Cantore says he has been focusing on talking about the power outages and strong winds associated with the storm to get viewers to realize the severity of the hurricane.

“At the end of the day, unfortunately, people are going to make up their own mind as to what they’re going to do,” he said. “We can only give them the best information, we can do it with a tone that supports what we’re trying to say. At the end of the day it’s up to each individual to take that information and do with it what they may.”