Megastorm could wreak havoc across eastern US - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Megastorm could wreak havoc across eastern US

Tens of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate coastal areas Sunday as big cities and small towns across the U.S. Northeast braced for the onslaught of a superstorm threatening some 60 million people along the most heavily populated corridor in the nation.

As a monstrous Hurricane Sandy made its way up the Atlantic Coast, New York City announced its subways, buses and trains would stop running Sunday night, and its 1.1 million-student school system would be closed on Monday. Mayor Michael Bloomberg also ordered the evacuation of part of lower Manhattan and other low-lying neighborhoods.

"If you don't evacuate, you are not only endangering your life, you are also endangering the lives of the first responders who are going in to rescue you," Bloomberg said. "This is a serious and dangerous storm."

Tens of thousands of people along the coast in Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut and other threatened areas were also under orders to clear out because of the danger of heavy rain, punishing winds and a potentially deadly tidal surge.

Sandy was headed north from the Caribbean, where it left at least 65 people dead, mostly in Haiti, and was expected to hook left toward the mid-Atlantic coast and come ashore late Monday or early Tuesday, most likely along the New Jersey shore, colliding with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic.

Forecasters warned that the resulting megastorm could wreak havoc over 800 miles (1,300 kilometers)from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.

The danger was hardly limited to coastal areas, with worried about inland flooding. They also warned that the rain could saturate the ground, causing trees to topple onto power lines and cause blackouts that could last for several days.

States of emergency were declared from North Carolina, where gusty winds whipped steady rain on Sunday morning, to Connecticut. Delaware ordered 50,000 people in coastal communities to clear out by 8 p.m. Sunday.

Officials in New York City were particularly worried about the possibility of subway flooding. The city closed the subways before Hurricane Irene last year, and a Columbia University study predicted that an Irene surge just 1 foot (30 centimeters) higher would have paralyzed lower Manhattan.

Sandy was at Category 1 strength, packing 75 mph (120 kph) winds, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and moving northeast at 14 mph (22.5 kph) as of 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It was about 575 miles (925 kilometers) south of New York City.

The storm was expected to continue moving parallel to the Southeast coast most of the day and approach the coast of the mid-Atlantic states by Monday night, before reaching southern New England later in the week.

The storm was so big, however, 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.

Amtrak began canceling passenger train service Saturday night to parts of the East Coast, including between Washington and New York. Airlines started moving planes out of airports to avoid damage and added Sunday flights out of New York and Washington in preparation for flight cancellations on Monday.

The Virginia National Guard was authorized to call up to 500 troops to active duty for debris removal and road-clearing, while homeowners stacked sandbags at their front doors in coastal towns.

President Barack Obama was monitoring the storm and working with state and locals governments to make sure they get the resources needed to prepare, administration officials said.

In North Carolina's Outer Banks, there was some scattered, minor flooding at daybreak Sunday on the beach road in Nags Head. The bad weather could pick up there later in the day, with the major concerns being rising tides and pounding waves.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie's emergency declaration will force the shutdown of Atlantic City's 12 casinos for only the fourth time in the 34-year history of legalized gambling there. City officials said they would begin evacuating the gambling hub's 30,000 residents at noon Sunday, busing them to mainland shelters and schools.

"I've been here since 1997, and I never even put my barbecue grill away during a storm," Russ Linke said shortly before he and his wife left the Jersey shore barrier island town of Ship Bottom on Saturday. "But I am taking this one seriously. They say it might hit here. That's about as serious as it can get."

He and his wife secured the patio furniture, packed the bicycles into the pickup truck, and headed off the island.

Witlet Maceno, an emergency room nurse working at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital, was headed home to Staten Island on Sunday morning after his overnight shift. He said he was going home to check on his parents, visiting from Atlanta, before he returned to work Sunday evening.

"I'm making sure they're OK, that they have water and food, and that the windows are shut tight," he said. "And I'm going to remove stuff outside that could go flying into the windows" of his street-level apartment.

The storm also forced the presidential campaign to juggle schedules. Romney scrapped plans to campaign Sunday in Virginia and switched his schedule for the day to Ohio. First lady Michelle Obama canceled an appearance in New Hampshire for Tuesday, and Obama moved a planned Monday departure for Florida to Sunday night to beat the storm. He also canceled appearances in Northern Virginia on Monday and Colorado on Tuesday.

___

Breed reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Contributing to this report were AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington; Emery Dalesio in Nags Head, North Carolina.; Karen Matthews and Samantha Bomkamp in New York; Randall Chase in Lewes, Delaware.; Jessica Gresko in Arlington, Virginia; and Nancy Benac in Washington.

  • FOX 5 Weather AppMore>>

  • FOX 5 Weather App

    FOX 5 Weather App

    Weather App

    We know you have busy schedules and can't always get to a TV, so when you need weather information - and you need it immediately - there's only one place you need to click when you are on the go, the FOX 5 Weather App!!
    We know you have busy schedules and can't always get to a TV, so when you need weather information - and you need it immediately - there's only one place you need to click when you are on the go, the FOX 5 Weather App!!
Powered by WorldNow
Untitled

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices