Eastern US Braces for ‘Superstorm’

Posted October 29th, 2012 at 3:45 am (UTC-5)
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Forecasters say conditions along the east coast of the United States will deteriorate Monday as one of the biggest storms ever to hit the mainland brings heavy rain and wind to a large section of the nation's most populated region.

Hurricane Sandy has been moving up the coast and is expected to join with two winter storm systems, creating a hybrid “superstorm” that could affect up to 60 million residents. It is expected to make landfall late Monday.

Forecasters expect the storm to bring hurricane-force winds to portions of the coast from Virginia to Massachusetts. The National Weather Service is predicting a “life-threatening” storm surge that could reach more than 3 meters in New York Harbor.

The storm has forced major cities including Washington, Philadelphia and New York to close schools and shut down their public transit systems. U.S. stock markets are closed Monday, and the United Nations has canceled meetings and closed its offices.

The storm has affected rail and air travel in the region, with long-distance train routes suspended and airlines scrapping thousands of flights.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who attended a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Sunday, called on residents to take the storm “very seriously” and to listen to orders from state and local authorities.

The hurricane had winds early Monday of 120 kilometers per hour with higher gusts of up to 165 kilometers per hour extending outward from the center.

Authorities have urged 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, have declared states of emergency. Authorities in Delaware have ordered some mandatory evacuations.

Mr. 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 canceled 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.