And, with utilities company ConEd calling customers to warn it will shut off power lines across Manhattan and Brooklyn, millions more will be affected. The company shut off power in 200,000 homes in the area in last year's Hurricane Irene - but this year's storm packs a much fiercer punch.More than 765,000 people have been left without power as Hurricane Sandy batters the East Coast ahead of her landfall tonight - and authorities have warned they will switch off power across areas of Manhattan, potentially affecting millions more.
Sandy, which forecasters said could be the largest hurricane in U.S. history, has revealed the first signs of her monstrous power, dumping snow, breaching rivers and forcing floodwaters into towns and homes across the East Coast.
Atlantic City, which has already suffered heavy flooding, is expected to take the brunt of the monster storm as Sandy smashes into land tonight, unleashing storm surges, gale force winds and rainfall that could leave millions more without power.
The hurricane strengthened overnight to nearly 1,000 miles wide with winds in excess of 90 miles per hour as it accelerated north at a speed of 28mph. Its pressure has also dropped to record lows, which means the hurricane is strengthening further.
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Making waves: Heavy surf crashes over a seawall during the early stages of Hurricane Sandy in Kennebunk, Maine
Rising: Pieces of the boardwalk float in sections through the flooded streets of Atlantic City - which is expected to get the brunt of the storm tonight
Vicious: Waves crash against a previously damaged pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey before landfall of Hurricane Sandy before flooding communities
Flooding: A truck drives through water pushed over a road by Hurricane Sandy in Southampton, New York on Monday as the storm gathers speed
In their stride: Allen Boyer paddles a kayak in floodwaters caused by Hurricane Sandy as Bobby Carnutte wades through the water at right in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Group work: Pedestrians come to the aid of a motorist stuck on a flooded-out road along the shoreline area of Milford, Connecticut
Deadly: A comparison of Hurricane Irene in 2011 (top) and Hurricane Sandy (bottom) shows the much stronger this year's storm threatens to be
The worst of the Category 1 hurricane is expected to bring a 'life-threatening' surge of seawater up to 11 feet high, coastal hurricane winds and a barrage of heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains.
Already the hurricane is showing its breathtaking power as hundreds of thousands of residents scrambled to higher ground, public transport systems shut down, thousands of homes were without power and thousands of flights across the country were cancelled.
The Hudson River which connects New Jersey and Manhattan's west side has breached - already inflicting more damage than Hurricane Irene last year. The last hurricane in which waters significantly breached the city's riverbanks and caused wide-spread flooding was in September 1821.
CBS reported that wind gusts of 38 mph have been felt in New York City, while winds of 41 mph have rattled Boston.
Across Norfolk, Virginia, residents were knee-deep in floodwaters as they travelled to work or scrambled to stock up on last-minute groceries. In the southeast of the state, tides are expected to run between five and eight feet above normal.
Floodwaters were also seeping into New York, with homes in Gilgo, Long Island becoming quickly submerged.
In Boone, North Carolina, snow began falling at 8am; the Appalachian mountain town is expected to suffer a miserable few days with snow, rain and temperatures struggling to get out of the 30s. Up to eight inches of snow is expected but, in places of higher elevation, there may be as many as 12, while in West Virginia, 2 to 3 feet of snow could fall.
In Oak Orchard, Delaware, rescue efforts by the National Guard and local authorities were already underway for residents who had failed to heed the mandatory evacuation issued over the weekend.
In Ocean City, New Jersey, residents snapped photos of the extreme flooding, as officials added: 'The ocean has met the bay. We have never seen anything like this.'
Off the coast of North Carolina, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued 14 of the 16 crew members who abandoned the replica ship HMS Bounty, using helicopters to lift them from life rafts. The Coast Guard continued to search for the two missing crew members about 160 miles from the storm.
The hurricane could cause a total of $20 billion in economic damage and losses to homes, travellers and retailers forced to close stores.
Insured losses may reach $5 billion to $10 billion, or about half of the total, according to an estimate today by risk model provider Eqecat Inc., Bloomberg reported.
Sandy has already killed at least 66 people - including 51 in Haiti - in the Caribbean before pounding U.S. coastal areas with rain.
Nine U.S. states have now declared states of emergency, with Connecticut most recently joining other eastern states and announcing it would shut down all highways at 1pm. The National Guard is poised to swoop into states to help.
Caution: Obama warned the public to remain alert during a press conference in the White House
On its way: Hurricane Sandy is pictured churning off the east coast on Monday morning. The monster storm is expected to hit New Jersey Monday night
State of emergency: New Yorkers in Red Zone A face the highest risk of flooding from storm surges and Mayor Bloomberg ordered their mandatory evacuation
Destruction: Long Island Power Authority personnel view a fallen tree limb suspended on a power line that fell as a result of the powerful winds
Wash out: Debris from a sea wall and a damaged pier litters a parking lot at Avalon Pier in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina after Sandy's wind passed through
Felled: A broken tree is seen during winds as the Path Station starts to get flooded in Hoboken, New Jersey
Flooded: People walk down a submerged street in Atlantic City, where the storm will hit land later on Monday
In deep: A photo uploaded to Twitter shows the catastrophic storm surge underway near Ocean City, New Jersey
On approach: A pedestrian crosses a vacant Market street with winds and rain from the hurricane in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
HURRICANE SANDY BY NUMBERS
50 million People in Sandy's path
66 Deaths already caused by Sandy across the Caribbean
90 Miles per hour of wind gusts forecasted
1,000 Miles wide that storm will reach as it barrels north on land
9 States where state of emergency has been declared
765,000 People already without power
375,000 New Yorkers ordered to evacuate low lying areas of the city
36 Hours Hurricane Sandy could batter the New York City - compared to 12 from Irene last year
27 Years since the New York Stock Exchange closed for a day due to weather
11 Feet of storm surges expected
12 Inches of snow expected in some parts of North Carolina
President Obama warned the nation to brace itself as the hurricane churns north, with 50 million people in its path.
'This is going to be a big storm,' he said in a press conference at the White House on Monday afternoon. 'It's going to be a difficult storm... We are certain this is going to be a slow-moving process through a wide swathe of the country and millions of people will be affected.
'Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. Do not delay, do not pause, do not question. For folks who are not following instructions, you are putting first responders at danger.'
He added: 'The good news is we will clean up and we will get through this.'
Forecasters said Sandy, dubbed 'Frankenstorm', could surge to a 'super storm' as it joins an Arctic jet stream, sparking flash floods and snow storms - and making it unlike anything seen over the eastern United States in decades.
According to CBS News hurricane consultant David Bernard, the pressure is dropping, which means the storm is strengthening. Its pressure is 943 millibars, setting a new lowest pressure north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and beating the previous low set in 1938.
'The last time we saw anything like this was never,' Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said on Sunday. 'I don't know how to say it any clearer than that it is the largest threat to human life our state has experienced in anyone's lifetime.'
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie added: 'Don't be stupid. Get out!'
New York and other cities and towns have closed their transit systems and ordered mass evacuations from low-lying areas ahead of the storm surge.
Airlines canceled flights, bridges and tunnels closed, and national passenger rail operator Amtrak suspended nearly all service on the East Coast.
Classes were cancelled on Monday for more than two million public school students in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore, while universities and government offices in states including Washington and New Jersey were shut down.
Concerned residents in the hurricane's path swarmed grocery stores, searching for generators, flashlights, batteries and food in anticipation of power outages. Nearly 284,000 residential properties valued at $88 billion are at risk for damage, risk analysts at CoreLogic said.
The National Hurricane Center warned that residents in higher floors will be at a greater risk than those nearer ground level when howling winds rattle through.
The skies above New York begin to blacken as the first signs of the approaching megastorm form
Raging waters: The New York City skyline and Hudson River are seen from Hoboken, New Jersey as Hurricane Sandy approaches
Breaking through: As Hurricane Sandy barreled towards New York on Monday, the Hudson River breached, forcing water into Manhattan walkways and parks
Isolated: Rain falls on a nearly deserted road ahead of Hurricane Sandy in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Fears: Strong winds snapped a crane at the top of a tower in Manhattan, as tweeted by Piers Morgan, left. In Delaware County, Pennsylvania, a tree smashed into a home on Monday morning causing significant damage and destroying the neighbour's deck. A child was also taken to the hospital
Close up: The crane hangs precariously from the side of 157 W. 57th Street after wind has damaged it before the expected landfall
Getting ready: Workers put sand bags out in front of a building in the Financial District as the beginning effects of Hurricane Sandy are felt in New York
On its way: A car plows through a flooded street in Norfolk, Virginia after the impact of Hurricane Sandy
Rising waters: Rain and floodwaters wash through Norfolk, Virginia on Monday morning as a resident battles to get to work
Surveying the storm: Jack Devnew looks at the water covering a dock as he checks on his boat at a marina near downtown Norfolk, Virginia
All U.S. stock markets will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, the operator of the New York Stock Exchange said, reversing an earlier plan that would have kept electronic trading going on.
Sandy forced President Obama and Mitt Romney to cancel some campaign stops and fuelled concern it could disrupt early voting - encouraged by the candidates this year more than ever - before the November 6 election.
The United Nations, Broadway theaters, New Jersey casinos, schools up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and myriad corporate events were also being shut down on Monday.
Residents along the New Jersey coast were warned they may not survive Hurricane Sandy if they do not evacuate low-lying areas.
The National Weather Service issued the stark warning last night as the massive weather front surged closer to the East Coast.
A statement read: 'If you are reluctant [to evacuate], think about your loved ones...think about the rescue/recovery teams who will rescue you if you are injured or recover your remains if you do not survive.'
Advisory: This weather.gov map shows which advisories have been issues in which counties, warning their residents against various hazardous weather
Running for cover: A family braces against ocean spray as waves crash against a seawall in Scituate, Massachusetts on Monday
Soaked: Homes in Ocean City in New Jersey are already submerged - hours ahead of the storm's expected arrival
Damage: Water pushed in by Hurricane Sandy surrounds a house in Southampton, New York
Rocky: Sailboats rock in choppy water at a dock along the Hudson River near Manhattan during the storm
Desperate: Two boys run to dodge high winds and waves from the effects of Hurricane Sandy in Marshfield, Massachusetts
Havoc: A car crushed by a fallen tree sits along Montauk Highway as Hurricane Sandy approaches in Bay Shore, New York
Under a cloud: After canceling his appearance at a campaign rally in Orlando, Florida, President Obama walks to the White House in the rain
GOVT PLEA: AVOID CALLING ON CELL PHONES AND TEXT INSTEAD
As Hurricane Sandy nears the East Coast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency took to Twitter to advise followers on how to use their cell phones in the storm.
'Phone lines may be congested during/after Sandy. Let loved ones know you're OK by sending a text or updating your social networks,' it wrote.
Voice calls use more bandwidth than text messages. By staying off the phone, it will reduce the unavoidable havoc to mobile carriers.
About 50 million people from the Mid-Atlantic to Canada are in the path of the 1,000-mile-wide monster, which is expected to topple trees, damage buildings, cause power outages and trigger heavy flooding.
Many workers planned to stay home on Monday, while thousands of flights into and out of the U.S. northeast were grounded on as airports closed, stranding passengers from Hong Kong to Europe.
The massive storm threatens to bring a near halt to air travel for at least two days in a key region for both domestic and international flights.
More than 11,500 flights have been cancelled so far - already leaving a backlog of tens of thousands.
The storm is also expected to inflict power outages along the east coast, with officials already expressing fears that homes and businesses could be without power for days. 'We could be talking about weeks,' Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy warned.
Officials told residents to head for higher ground as evacuations were ordered on the East Coast including a mandatory one for New York City which saw Mayor Bloomberg advise 375,000 people to leave low-lying areas.
Extremes: Snow covers Mountain Lake Road at an elevation of 4000 feet in Giles County, Virginia. About three inches of snow was measured in a snow gauge at a nearby hotel, the first snow fall of the year thanks to Sandy
Violent: Waves from Hurricane Sandy crash onto the damaged Avalon Pier in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina as Sandy churns up the East Coast
Gathering storm: A car sits in a flooded street near the ocean ahead of Hurricane Sandy in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Monday
Seeping in: Ducks swim in waters that have overlapped a sea wall on the Potomac River in Washington on Monday ahead of the hurricane reaching land
Breaking through: Waves wash over the sea wall near high tide at Battery Park in New York on Monday morning
Treacherous: After checking to make sure his boat line is secure, Bob Casseday crosses the flooded street just over the bridge along Savannah Road in Lewes, Delaware on Monday
The New York subway closed at 7pm on Sunday for only the second time in history, meaning that almost 12million people will be prevented from taking their usual route to work.
The MTA said the duration of the service suspension is 'unknown' and that 'service will be restored only when it is safe to do so, after careful inspections of all equipment and tracks.'
Transport officials warned: 'Even with minimal damage this is expected to be a lengthy process.'
The New York Stock Exchange said on Sunday it is putting in place contingency plans and will announce later when the trading floor will reopen. It is the first time in 27 years the NYSE has been forced to close due to the weather.
Deserted: Sand whips up along the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey where the storm was expected to make landfall on Monday night
Battling the storm: Terry and Derek Ballingall make a convenience store run in high waters from Hurricane Sandy in Poquoson, Virginia
Submerged: A resident chains his bike and heads to work near downtown in Norfolk, Virginia after Sandy's rain and floodwaters hit the area
Rising waters: Terry Robinson, left, and Bobby Carnutte wade through floodwater at RV Park in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina where roads are impassable
Ominous: A man watches the ferocious waves on Sunday in Berlin, Maryland
Soaked: Sandy creates waves that pummel the belly of decking in Ocean City, Maryland as the monster storm lumbers north
NEW YORK'S WORST STORMS
1821 Hurricane Without modern technology, the hurricane on September, 1821 caught New Yorkers off guard when, in one hour, the tide rose 13 feet. The East River and Hudson River breached, with their waters meeting across Lower Manhattan. The area was not largely populated then, so there were few deaths
1893 Hurricane A Category 1 hurricane completely destroyed Hog Island, a resort island in southern Queens
1938 Hurricane Nearly 200 people were killed when the Category 3 hurricane swept over Long Island and into New England. It caused millions of dollars of damages in NYC, where it killed 10 people and destroyed hundreds of trees in Central Park
1954, Carol The hurricane, which had sustained winds of more than 100mph, hit eastern Long Island and caused major flooding throughout New York City
1955, Connie and Diane Rain from the two hurricanes caused flooding across the city. There were more than 200 deaths in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey
1960, Donna The hurricane created an 11-foot storm tide in the New York Harbor, inflicting extensive pier damage
1972, Agnes The tropical storm flooded areas from North Caroline to New York and caused 122 deaths and more than $6 billion in damage
1985, Gloria Serious damage was inflicted on Long Island
1996, Bertha The tropical storm washed out the city in July 1966
1999, Floyd The tropical storm hit New Jersey and New York with 60mph winds and dropped up to 15 inches of rain. Flash flooding forced residents from their homes
2011, Irene The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm just before hitting the city, which had issued mandatory evacuation orders for those living along the coast. Up to 7 inches of rain fell as winds reached 65 mph. It inflicted an estimated $100 million in damages
New York City and Nassau County Offices of Emergency Management
A blizzard led to a late start and an early close on January 8, 1996. The NYSE shut down on March 27, 1985 for Hurricane Gloria. Since the Great Depression, the longest suspension in trading at the NYSE occurred after 9/11 when the exchange closed for four days.
The sheer size of the storm meant its effects would be felt from the mid-Atlantic states to New England. Officials issued warnings meant to reduce the risk of mass casualties as the National Guard was deployed to New York City.
All along the U.S. coast worried residents packed into stores, buying generators, candles, food and other supplies in anticipation of power outages.
'They're freaking out,' said Joe Dautel, a clerk at a hardware store in Glenside, Pennsylvania. 'I'm selling people four, five, six packs of batteries - when I had them.'
Mark Palazzolo, who has boarded up his bait-and-tackle shop in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J with the same wood he used in past storms, crossing out the names of Hurricanes Isaac and Irene, said: 'I think this one's going to do us in.
'I got a call from a friend of mine from Florida last night who said, "Mark, get out! If it's not the storm, it'll be the aftermath. People are going to be fighting in the streets over gasoline and food."'
Obama met with federal emergency officials for an update on the Category 1 storm's path and the danger it poses to the Mid-Atlantic and New England.
'My main message to everybody involved is that we have to take this seriously,' said Obama. He urged people to 'listen to your local officials.'
The President said emergency officials were confident that staging for the storm was in place.
Obama traveled the nearly three miles from the White House to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's headquarters in his motorcade. As part of the briefing, the president also met with FEMA workers and thanked them.
'My message to the governors as well as to the mayors is anything they need, we will be there, and we will cut through red tape.
'We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules,' he said. 'We want to make sure we are anticipating and leaning forward into making sure that we have the best possible response to what is going to be a big and messy system.'
The storm surge could be higher than the Manhattan flood walls and pour into subway tunnels.
Mayor Bloomberg said he ordered an evacuation of the low-lying areas along the edges of the city including parts of lower Manhattan, sections of Brooklyn and Staten Island, and the Rockaways in Queens.
He said 72 evacuation centres had been created around the city and he also ordered the closure of schools.
Mayor Bloomberg said: 'If you don’t evacuate, you are not only endangering your life, you are also endangering the lives of the first responders who are going in to rescue you,' he said at a news conference Sunday. 'This is a serious and dangerous storm.'
He added that those who didn’t leave wouldn’t be arrested. New York City police officers went door-to-door this evening to take down the names of those who had decided not to leave.
To help direct any response to the damage caused by Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed the New York Army and Air National Guard to mobilize in response to Hurricane Sandy.
Cuomo said the Guard will deploy up to 1,175 troops starting on Sunday. They'll help local authorities respond to storm damage in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier.
On Sunday, 200 New York Army National Guard soldiers were deployed to New York City. By 6pm Monday, Cuomo said 250 soldiers and 150 airmen would be in place on Long Island.
Another 200 soldiers will go on duty Monday at armories in Binghamton, Walton, and Horseheads in the Southern Tier. Statewide, another 150 soldiers and airmen will be mobilized to provide command and control and logistical support.
Not a foam party: A brave news crew wades through sea foam blown onto Jeanette's Pier in Nags Head, N.C. as wind and rain from Hurricane Sandy move into the area
Going for shelter: High winds blow sea foam into the air as a person walks across Jeanette's Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina on Sunday
Wrapped up: The sea foam blows across the walkway. The state is also expected to experience up to 12 inches of snow in some areas
Protection: A woman arrives at an evacuation center in New York City this evening as hundreds of thousands of residents were told to evacuate by the Mayor
Facing the storm: Andy Becica, left, and Peter Wilson stand in rough surf along the Atlantic Ocean Monday morning in Cape May, New Jersey
Powerful: A woman takes a photograph of the Hudson River as gusty winds bend trees in Hoboken, New Jersey
Rising waters: Angelique Hionis cleans up after flooding occurred at Bubba's Seafood Restaurant and Crabhouse from Hurricane Sandy in Virginia Beach, Virginia
If forecasts hold, and especially if the storm surge coincides with high tide, the effects should be much more severe for the city said Klaus Jacob, a Columbia University researcher who has advised the city on coastal risks.
While the storm may not be the worst-case scenario, Jacob said he expected the subway system, as well as underground electrical systems and neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan, to be at least partially flooded.
Governor Cuomo said: 'The transportation system is the lifeblood of the New York City region, and suspending all service is not a step I take lightly.
'But keeping New Yorkers safe is the first priority, and the best way to do that is to make sure they are out of harm's way before gale-force winds can start wreaking havoc on trains and buses.'
The service is expected to resume operations about 12 hours after the storm ends, officials said at the news conference - which would put services on track to resume for Tuesday afternoon.
The Atlantic City Rail Line also suspended operations at 4pm Sunday due to the rapidly deteriorating weather conditions and the continued evacuation of Atlantic City.
Swamped: The Hudson River swells and rises over its banks flooding the Lackawanna train station as Hurricane Sandy approaches, in Hoboken, New Jersey
Closing in: A storm surge hits a small tree as winds from Hurricane Sandy reach Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut as the state declared a state of emergency
Chaos: Waves crash over Winthrop Shore Drive in Massachusetts as Hurricane Sandy comes up the coast
Monster: Waves crash over Eric Mongirdas as the storm surge caused by Hurricane Sandy pummels the coastline in Milford, Connecticut
The measures announced in New York City come as governors from North Carolina to Connecticut declared states of emergency ahead of Sandy's arrival
As Hurricane Sandy trekked north from the Caribbean to meet two other powerful winter storms, experts said it didn't matter how strong the storm was when it hit land.
'This storm that is going to be impacting the mid-Atlantic and parts of the Northeast...is going to be destructive, historic, and unfortunately life threatening,' AccuWeather's Bernie Rayno said to ABC News.
Insurers also prepared for the storm's arrival, activating claims teams, staging adjusters near the locations most likely to be affected and generally getting ready to pay for a potentially huge volume of losses.
At high tide, it could bring a surge of seawater up to 11 feet above ground level to Long Island Sound and New York Harbor, forecasters said.
Gusts: A woman tries to take cover from rain in Hoboken while Sandy approaches New Jersey with top sustained winds of 90mph
Empty: A woman walks past a boarded up Saks Fifth Avenue as New Yorkers prepare for Hurricane Sandy which hits the city tonight
Staying positive: Visitors hold umbrellas while taking photos during rainfall at Times Square in New York
Setting in: Water floods a street in Atlantic City, New Jersey ahead of the hurricane's arrival in the early hours of Tuesday. Around 30,000 residents have been forced to evacuate
'Given the large wind field associated with Sandy, elevated water levels could span multiple tide cycles, resulting in repeated and extended periods of coastal and bayside flooding,' the forecasters said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was criticised for not interrupting a vacation in Florida while a snowstorm pummeled the state in 2010, broke off campaigning for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in North Carolina on Friday to return home.
'I can be as cynical as anyone,' said Christie, who declared a state of emergency Saturday. 'But when the storm comes, if it's as bad as they're predicting, you're going to wish you weren't as cynical as you otherwise might have been.'
'Don't be stupid. Get out and go to higher, safer ground,' New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on Sunday. 'Let's get to work on this. We know how to do this. We've been through this before.'
Eighty-five-year-old former sailor Ray Leonard agreed. And he knows to heed warnings.
Empty: A lone pedestrian walks through an empty Times Square early on Monday, just hours ahead of when Sandy is expected to strike the city
Eerie: Grand Central Station, in New York City, is near empty as the city's transport systems ground to a halt ahead of the hurricane
Abandoned: The floor of the New York Stock Exchange is empty of traders on Monday - the first time in 27 years it has closed for a day due to the weather
Long wait: Travellers from South Korea search for information on their mobile phones on Monday after arriving to an empty terminal as flights at LaGuardia airport in New York were cancelled
No escape: A traveller takes pictures of a flight monitor showing cancelled flights at LaGuardia airport in New York on Sunday night
Preparations: Sand bags protect an entrance of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday morning. It will be closed Monday and possibly Tuesday
Leonard and two crewmates in his 32-foot sailboat, Satori, rode out 1991's infamous 'perfect storm,' made famous by the Sebastian Junger best-selling book of the same name, before being plucked from the Atlantic off Martha's Vineyard, Mass., by a Coast Guard helicopter.
'Don't be rash,' Leonard said Saturday from his home in Fort Myers, Fla. 'Because if this does hit, you're going to lose all those little things you've spent the last 20 years feeling good about.'
Sandy killed at least 66 people as it made its way through the Caribbean islands, including 51 in Haiti, mostly from flash flooding and mudslides, according to authorities.
The approaching storm forced a change of plans for both presidential candidates ahead of the November 6 election.
Sandy weakened briefly to a tropical storm Saturday but was soon back up to Category 1 strength, packing 75 mph winds. It was about 260 miles (420 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and moving northeast at 13 mph as of 5am Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
STORM SURGE: HOW TO PREPARE FOR A NATURAL DISASTER
New York City’s Office of Emergency Management offers advice for what to do in case disaster strikes:
- Residents should construct an emergency supply kit, complete with a gallon of water per person per day for drinking, as well as non-perishable foods, first aid kids, and flashlights
- In case drinking water becomes polluted, iodine tablets are recommended, and supplies for personal hygiene such as toothbrush, tooth paste, soap, and any medications needed
- People should designate two meeting places – one near the home, and the other place in the neighborhood, like a library or place of worship
- It is also extremely helpful to keep a list of emergency contacts, both in the area, and out-of-town in case those in the city cannot be reached
- Those living around bodies of water have the greatest risk of flooding from Sandy’s storm surge and are now subject to mandatory evacuations ordered by Mayor Bloomberg. Those further inland have less of a danger
No go: Yellow caution is wrapped around the turnstiles at Wall St station in anticipation of the hurricane
Only a few bread items remain on the shelves at the Waldbaums grocery store as Hurricane Sandy approaches on October 28, 2012 in Long Beach, New York
Customers rush to buy groceries at the Fairway super market in New York City today as forecasters claim that Hurricane Sandy could be the biggest storm to ever hit the United States
Heading home: People walk by a closed New York subway station in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn after the system shut down on Sunday night
PICKING UP PACE: FIVE REASONS WHY SANDY IS EXPECTED TO BE A SUPERSTORM
1. It is a Northbound Hurricane
Hurricane Sandy is moving slowly toward the north-northeast but is expected to turn to the north and west later Sunday and Monday, forecasters say. At some point, it's expected to become what's known as an extratropical storm. Unlike a tropical system like a hurricane, which gets its power from warm ocean waters, extratropical systems are driven by temperature contrasts in the atmosphere.
Although Sandy is currently a hurricane, it's important not to focus too much on its official category or its precise path (current models show it making landfall over New Jersey or Delaware sometime early Tuesday). It's a massive system that will affect a huge swath of the eastern U.S., regardless of exactly where it hits or its precise wind speed. For example, tropical storm-force winds can be felt more than 500 miles from the storm's center, according to the National Hurricane Center. It's already caused some minor flooding in North Carolina's Outer Banks and has prompted evacuations elsewhere. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has personnel and supplies spread as far west as the Ohio River Valley, said Craig Fugate, the agency's director.
2. Early Winter Storm
Sandy is expected to merge with a wintry system from the west, at which point it will become the powerful superstorm that has forecasters and officials across the eastern U.S. Winds from that system will pull Sandy back toward the U.S. mainland.
3. Arctic Air from the North
Frigid air coming south from Canada also is expected to collide with Sandy and the wintry storm from the west, creating a megastorm that is expected to park over the northeast for days. The brunt of the storm could hit areas farther inland. Officials are bracing for the worst: nearly a foot of rain, high winds and up to 2 feet of snow.
4. High Tides could Worsen Flooding
Further complicating matters is the possibility for dangerous storm surges: A full moon means the tides will be higher than usual, which will make it easier for the storm's powerful winds to push water into low-lying areas. That, coupled with the threat of several inches of rain, has officials working to shore up flood defenses.
Storm surge could reach anywhere from 2 to 11 feet along the northeastern coast, forecasters say. Inland river flooding also is a serious concern.
5. Combo of Snow, Wind Increase Risk for Widespread Power Outages
Storms in recent years have left hundreds of thousands of people in the eastern U.S. without power, sometimes for days at a time. Utilities have been bringing in extra crews and lining up tree trimmers so they're prepared, and with good reason. The superstorm brings two possibilities for knocking out electricity. For one, hurricane-force winds of at 74 mph could send tree branches into power lines, or even topple entire trees and power poles. Those left standing could succumb to snow, which could weigh down still-leafy branches enough to also topple trees.