Hurricane Sandy is still lumbering toward the Atlantic Coast, where it is expected to make landfall between New Jersey and Long Island, N.Y., sometime in the early morning Tuesday.

But the storm is so massive, with tropical-storm-force winds extending 500 miles in all directions, that Mainers can expect to start feeling increasing winds Sunday night.

“You should wake up to a breezy day Monday,” said Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

The height of the storm will be from 2 p.m. Monday until 2 a.m. Tuesday. Although Maine is expected to miss the worst of the storm’s effects, the southwestern and coastal areas of the state will see flooding from up to 3 inches of rain and a tidal surge that could reach 3 feet above normal high tides.

Hurricane Sandy will slow down and lose its eye when it reaches land and meets up with a west-to-east winter storm that could dump snow in West Virginia. Maine, which will be on the tropical side of the storm, should see only rain and gusts that could reach up to 70 mph, said Curtis.

She said now is the time to bring in barbecue grills, lawn chairs and other items that could blow around.

“Find the flashlights, find the batteries and I would not plan on traveling anywhere from noon on Monday into Tuesday,” said Curtis.

Although the wind will die down by Tuesday night, rain is expected to continue into Thursday, Curtis said.

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