The east coast of the United States is preparing for what weather forecasters expect to be one of the biggest storms ever to hit the mainland.
Hurricane Sandy is moving up the Atlantic coast and is expected to join with two winter storm systems. Forecasters are calling this a hybrid “superstorm,” bringing damaging winds, heavy rains, flooding and snow in some areas. They expect it to span some 1,200 kilometers and affect up to 60 million residents starting late Monday.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who attended a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Sunday, called on affected residents to take the storm “very seriously” and to listen to orders from state and local authorities.
The hurricane already has winds of 120 kilometers per hour with higher gusts of up to 165 kilometers per hour extending outward from the center.
Authorities are urging citizens to make sure they stock up on drinkable water, canned food and batteries, and be prepared to spend days without power.
New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., have declared states of emergency. Authorities in Delaware have ordered some mandatory evacuations. New York City has braced for a near total shutdown of transit systems and schools, the New York Stock Exchange has closed its trading floor for Monday, and the United Nations has canceled meetings and closed its offices.
Obama has told federal emergency workers to get ready to move into action when storm-battered states call for help. He has canceled some campaign stops to remain at the White House and monitor the storm.
His Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, also cancelled campaign events in the critical battleground state of Virginia because of the storm.
Hurricane Sandy tore through the Caribbean region days ago, killing some 60 people in the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti.