Eastern US braces for dangerous superstorm

8:02 PM, Oct 29, 2012   |    comments
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NEW YORK - Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy is about 110 miles off the New Jersey coast, and the center of the storm is expected to be near the mid-Atlantic coast on Monday night.

The National Hurricane Center said early Monday that the storm has top sustained winds of 85 mph, with higher gusts. It is moving toward the north-northwest at 20 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 175 miles from the storm's center.

Sandy is on track to collide with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic.

Major metropolitan areas from Washington to Boston are bracing for what is expected to be a superstorm that could menace some 50 million people in the most heavily populated corridor in the nation.

Sandy is threatening to inundate New York with an 11-foot wall of water and has sent coastal residents fleeing for higher ground and shuttered major financial markets. It's expected to collide with two other weather systems, creating the potential for havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.

Many workers planned to stay home as transit systems shut down under the threat of flooding that could inundate tracks and tunnels. Schools and airports closed, and authorities warned that the time for evacuation was running out or already past.

The center of the wide storm was positioned to come ashore Monday night in New Jersey.

Louis Uccellini is environmental prediction chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He says "this is the worst-case scenario."

Here is the current breakdown of how states deadling with Sandy are being impacted:

CAROLINAS

The storm lashed barrier islands off North Carolina and rendered several homes and businesses nearly inaccessible. About 90 miles off the coast, a tall ship carrying 17 people was in distress; the Coast Guard was monitoring.

CONNECTICUT

The number of power outages has increased quickly in a state where utilities' response to past weather-related failures has become a political issue. Connecticut Light & Power says hundreds of customers are without power. Gov. Dannel Malloy has asked a task force to ensure fuel suppliers are fully stocked. Many residents along Long Island Sound heeded warnings and evacuated.

DELAWARE

Hundreds of people have fled to shelters as rough surf pounded the coast. Water covered some roads.

KENTUCKY

Snow is expected in mountainous areas.

MAINE

Officials predict coastal flooding and beach erosion, and utility crews have been brought in from Canada to handle anticipated power failures.

MARYLAND

Baltimore is opening six shelters; several city intersections are closed because of flooding threats. Early voting, which began Saturday and was to run through Thursday, was canceled for Monday.

MASSACHUSETTS

Utilities have brought in crews from as far away as Texas and the Midwest to cope with anticipated power failures. Most schools and colleges have canceled classes. The Boston transit authority says it will continue to operate as long it remains safe.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Gov. John Lynch has put 100 National Guard soldiers on active duty to help with preparations. Two shelters are being set up, and some schools have closed.

NEW JERSEY

Sandy's center is expected to make landfall in New Jersey late Monday. By daybreak, thousands of homes and businesses were without electricity. Thousands of people evacuated low-lying areas, and many inland towns hit by flooding from storm Irene last year issued evacuation orders.

NEW YORK

Many residents left low-lying flood evacuation zones, and the subway system shut down Sunday night. A storm surge of 11 feet is possible, the highest of all coastal areas being hit by Sandy. The New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial markets shut down for at least the day. Thousands of flights were canceled at the city's major airports.

OHIO

Residents of low-lying areas and along Lake Erie were told to watch for flooding; utilities are anticipating high winds that could blow down trees and poles. Snow is forecast in some areas.

PENNSYLVANIA

Many schools closed. Philadelphia has shut down its mass transit system, and hundreds of flights were canceled at the city's airport. Dozens of people took shelter at evacuation centers. Thousands of members of the National Guard have been told to be ready for deployment.

RHODE ISLAND

Several communities have ordered mandatory evacuations and many schools closed for the day. Big waves are expected to cause flooding along Narragansett Bay, which bisects the state. Authorities told people to be prepared for long periods without power.

TENNESSEE

Snow is expected in higher elevations, where a freeze warning has been issued. High winds are expected in many areas.

VIRGINIA

About 2,000 customers lacked power, and a utility said as many as 1 million could ultimately lose electricity. Many residents of Chincoteague Island, popular with tourists, shrugged off the idea of evacuation.

VERMONT

Gov. Peter Shumlin has declared a state of emergency to provide access to National Guard troops in a state still recovering from the devastating effects of the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Culverts and storm drainage basins in some spots have been cleared of debris.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

The capital area's transit system shut down rail service for the first time since 2003, and the Smithsonian Institution closed for the day.

WEST VIRGINIA

As much as 2 to 3 feet of snow was forecast in mountainous areas, and flooding was possible in some areas. Several shelters were put on standby, and power crews were mobilized to handle potential failures.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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