"I can be as cynical as anyone," the pugnacious chief executive said in a bit of understatement 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."
The storm forced the presidential campaign to juggle schedules. Romney scrapped plans to campaign Sunday in the swing state of Virginia and switched his schedule for the day to Ohio. First lady Michelle Obama canceled an appearance in New Hampshire for Tuesday, and President Barack Obama moved a planned Monday departure for Florida to Sunday night to beat the storm.
In Ship Bottom, just north of Atlantic City, Alice and Giovanni Stockton-Rossini spent Saturday packing clothing in the backyard of their home, a few hundred yards from the ocean on Long Beach Island. Their neighborhood was under a voluntary evacuation order, but they didn't need to be forced.
People across much of the Northeast have just one day left to prepare for "serious and life-threatening weather conditions," NBC meteorologist Bill Karins warned as Hurricane Sandy headed north.
Serious and life-threatening weather conditions are expected from Outer Banks to New England," Karins said. "People in the high impact zone from Virginia to Southern New England have one day left to make preparations and plans before Sandy significantly impacts their lives," he said.
For those who aren't taking the warnings seriously, the threat was described in blog posted on Weather Underground on Saturday by veteran weather forecaster Bryan Norcross as "serious as a heart attack for anybody near the rising water."
(Track the Storm Here From The Weather Channel)
"It's really frightening," Alice Stockton-Rossi said. "But you know how many times they tell you, `This is it, it's really coming and it's really the big one' and then it turns out not to be? I'm afraid people will tune it out because of all the false alarms before ... (but) this one might be the one."
A few blocks away, Russ Linke was taking no chances. He and his wife secured the patio furniture, packed the bicycles into the pickup truck, and headed off the island.
What makes the storm so dangerous and unusual is that it is coming at the tail end of hurricane season and the beginning of winter storm season, "so it's kind of taking something from both," said Jeff Masters, director of the private service Weather Underground.
Masters said the storm could be bigger than the worst East Coast storm on record — the 1938 New England hurricane known as the Long Island Express, which killed nearly 800 people. "Part hurricane, part nor'easter — all trouble," he said. Experts said to expect high winds over 800 miles and up to 2 feet of snow as far inland as West Virginia.
And the storm was so big, and the convergence of the three storms so rare, that "we just can't pinpoint who is going to get the worst of it," said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Officials are particularly worried about the possibility of subway flooding in New York City, said Uccellini.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to prepare to shut the city's subways, buses and suburban trains by Sunday, but delayed making a final decision. The city shut the subways down before last year's Hurricane Irene, and a Columbia University study predicted that an Irene surge just 1 foot higher would have paralyzed lower Manhattan.