Sandy no longer a hurricane, still packing high winds
Posted: October 29, 2012 at 6:26 a.m.
Updated: October 29, 2012 at 7:14 p.m.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. Forecasters say Sandy, which has been downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone, is still packing heavy rain and high winds as its center barrels into southern New Jersey and surrounding areas Monday evening.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm’s top sustained winds were holding at near 80-90 mph, with higher gusts.
After making landfall about 7 p.m. CDT, Sandy has knocked out power to more than 3.1 million people along the East Coast and is expected to upend life for tens of millions more.
Sandy is on track to collide with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic. The combination superstorm could menace some 50 million people in the most heavily populated corridor in the nation, from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.
In New York City, subways and schools were closed, the floor of the New York Stock Exchange was deserted, and thousands fled inland to await the storm’s fury.
As the storm closed in on the mid-Atlantic coast, it washed away an old section of the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk and left most of the city’s emptied-out streets under water. In New York, emergency crews worked to clear the streets surrounding a construction crane dangling from a luxury high-rise.
The monster hurricane was expected to make a westward lurch and blow ashore in New Jersey on Monday night, combining with two other weather systems — a wintry storm from the west and cold air rushing in from the Arctic — to create an epic superstorm.
Authorities warned that New York City and Long Island could get the worst of the storm surge: an 11-foot onslaught of seawater that could swamp lower Manhattan, flood the subways and cripple the underground network of electrical and communications lines that are vital to the nation’s financial capital.
Because of Sandy’s vast reach, with tropical storm-force winds extending almost 500 miles from its center, other major cities across the Northeast — Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston — also prepared for the worst.
“The days ahead are going to be very difficult,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “There will be people who die and are killed in this storm.”
By late Monday morning, the storm had strengthened to 90 mph and had already knocked out power to tens of thousands of people.
Authorities moved to close the Holland Tunnel, which connects New York and New Jersey, and a tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Street grates above the New York subway were boarded up, but officials worried that seawater would seep in and damage the electrical switches. Two of Maryland's bridges across the Chesapeake Bay, including its main highway bridge which connects Maryland's eastern shore with the Baltimore-Washington area, were also closed early Monday afternoon due to high winds.
Millions of people in the storm’s path stayed home from work. Subways, buses and trains shut down, and more than 9,500 flights in and out of the East were canceled for Monday and Tuesday, snarling travel around the globe. Hundreds of thousands of people were under orders to flee the coast, including 375,000 in lower Manhattan and other parts of New York City, but authorities warned that the time to get out was short or already past.
President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney called off their campaign events at the very height of the presidential race, with just over a week to go before Election Day. And early voting was canceled Monday in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.