NEW YORK -- Stressing that there's no need to panic, New York officials are bracing for a gale-force storm expected to hit most of the U.S. East Coast next week.
Forecasters say there's a 90 percent chance that the East will get high winds, heavy rain, flooding and maybe snow starting Sunday. While it's too early for precise forecasts, New York City and New Jersey could get the worst of it.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday noted the uncertainty in the forecasts. But he said the city was beginning to take precautions and has opened its emergency management situation room.
"What we are doing is we are taking the kind of precautions you should expect us to do, and I don't think anyone should panic. It's probably not going to be a great weekend for outdoor activity Sunday into Monday, maybe _ Saturday should be OK," he said.
Anxiety is especially high in Northeast areas socked last year by a freak October snow storm that knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers. Denise Van Buren of Central Hudson, a power utility that serves New York's mid-Hudson Valley, said they are monitoring the storm track closely because of the potential for high winds and snow with leaves still lingering on trees.
"Those are the ingredients that give us great cause for concern," Van Buren said. "And we are still raw from last year's October snow storm."
The Long Island Power Authority has begun coordinating efforts with state, New York City, county and local emergency management organizations, said spokesman Mark Gross.
"We urge customers not to take this storm lightly and start making preparations as this storm could result in a multi-day outage for parts of our service territory," Gross said.
Associated Press writer Karen Matthews contributed to this report from New York. AP writer Michael Hill contributed from Albany.