East Coast Takes a Beating as Sandy Nears Landfall
Authorities warned that the nation's biggest city could get hit with a surge of seawater that could swamp parts of lower Manhattan, flood subway tunnels, and cripple the network of electrical and communications lines that are vital to the nation's financial center.
On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York City's Brooklyn Battery and Holland Tunnels would close at 2 p.m., while the Verrazano Bridge and George Washington Bridge would close close at 7 p.m.
Sandy, a Category 1 hurricane, was blamed for 69 deaths in the Caribbean before it began traveling northward, parallel to the Eastern Seaboard. As of 11 a.m., it was moving at 18 mph, with hurricane-force winds extending an extraordinary 175 miles from its center.
It was expected to hook inland during the day Monday, colliding with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic.
Forecasters said Sandy was a rare, hybrid "super storm" created by an Arctic jet stream wrapping itself around a tropical storm, possibly causing up to 12 inches of rain in some areas, as well as up to 3 feet of snowfall in the Appalachian Mountains from West Virginia to Kentucky, and widespread power outages that last for days.
Louis Uccellini of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told The Associated Press that given Sandy's east-to-west track into New Jersey, the worst of the storm surge could be just to the north, in New York City, on Long Island, N.Y., and in northern New Jersey.
"This is the worst-case scenario," Uccellini said.
Forecasters said that because of giant waves and high tides made worse by a full moon, the metropolitan area of about 20 million people could get hit with an 11-foot wall of water.
New York called off school Monday for the city's 1.1 million students and announced it would suspend all train, bus and subway service Sunday night. More than 5 million riders a day depend on the transit system.
Officials also postponed Monday's reopening of the Statue of Liberty, which had been closed for a year for $30 million in renovations.
President Obama also pleaded for neighborliness: "In times like this, one of the things that Americans do is we pull together and we help out one another And so, there may be elderly populations in your area. Check on your neighbor, check on your friend. Make sure that they are prepared. If we do, then we're going to get through this storm just fine."