New York and other cities on America’s Atlantic seaboard have shut down in anticipation of a landfall by Hurricane Sandy. All public venues are closed, as is the Big Apple’s subway. Some 9,000 flights have been cancelled.
Sandy is dumping decimeters of rainfall and packing winds of up to 150 kilometers an hour.
President Barack Obama said the U.S. public needs to prepare for Hurricane Sandy to make landfall on Monday evening and predicted millions of people will be affected by the storm.
“This is going to be a big and powerful storm and all across the Eastern Seaboard I think everybody is taking the appropriate preparations,” he told reporters after having a briefing on the storm in the White House Situation Room.
Obama said those in the region affected by the Hurricane should listen to local and state officials on whether or not to evacuate, and expressed confidence that emergency crews are prepared to tackle the storm preparations and clean-up that will be needed in the coming days.
Hurricane Sandy gained strength Monday as it moved north along the Eastern Seaboard, forcing the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds, soaking rain and a surging wall of water up to 11 feet tall.
The monster storm’s impact on some 50 million residents was fueling both apprehension and urgency.
As of 11:00 a.m. ET, maximum sustained winds were measured at 90 mph, which is a strong Category 1 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. Wind gusts were reported as high as 115 mph.
Sandy was finally making the long-promised and unusual turn to the northwest toward the mid-Atlantic, as predicted by weather models almost a week ago. The center of the storm is forecast to make landfall along the New Jersey coast late Monday night or very early Tuesday morning.
Sandy remains a massive storm as tropical-storm-force winds of at least 39-73 mph are being felt all the way from southern Maine to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Sandy is gaining energy from other weather systems and is combining to create a superstorm with the potential for havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes. About 2 to 3 feet of snow were forecast for mountainous parts of West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia.
The worst of the storm surge could be in the northern part of New Jersey and in New York City and on Long Island. Higher tides brought by a full moon compounded the threat to the metropolitan area of about 20 million people.
Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney cancelled campaign events on Monday and Tuesday as a show of sensitivity as millions of Americans cower under the approaching Hurricane Sandy.
The decision, announced by his campaign, means that Romney will not appear in Wisconsin later on Monday and he will also postpone events elsewhere on Tuesday, complicating his bid to maintain momentum a week before election day.
Hurricane Sandy caused cancellations of thousands of flights in the US northeast Monday. Major Russian and British carriers canceled all flights in and out of NY and Washington airports.
The hurricane is expected to reach New Jersey and New York Monday and meteorologists warn of possible destruction in the area from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.
The disaster already hit Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas killing some 60 people.
Russia has offered to help the countries affected.