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One reason Sandy may have stayed tropical so long was the unusually warm waters of the Gulf Stream, a river of warm water that flows from the Caribbean up into the North Atlantic. It was 5 to 9 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year. And as a tropical system, Sandy fed on those warm waters and kept traveling north, Masters said. That could account for the last-minute boost in speed, too, that Sandy had as it neared shore, accelerating to 28 mph.

But once Sandy speeded up and reached land, it ran into a blocking ridge of air centered over Greenland. That won’t let the hybrid storm go too far too fast. It’s sort of like accelerating on a road to get stuck in a traffic jam. The weakened storm may still be over Maine on Saturday, Masters said.

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Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears