Hurricane Sandy, which could become the largest storm ever to hit the United States, is set to bring much of the East Coast, including New York and Washington, to a virtual standstill in the next few days with battering winds, flooding and the risk of widespread power outages.
About 50 million people are in the path of the massive storm, which has already killed 66 people in the Caribbean and is expected to hit the U.S. Eastern Seaboard on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, Canadian Hurricane Centre said Sunday that in addition to rain and high winds, Sandy could also bring snow to parts of Ontario.
Spokesman Bob Robichaud said southern and eastern Ontario and western Quebec could see between 50 and 100 millimetres of rain late Monday and early Tuesday.
“Snow is another thing we’re going to have to consider with this thing, just because it’s drawing in some cold air from the north,” said Robichaud from Halifax during a media teleconference on Sunday.
While the storm does not pack the punch of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005, forecasters said it could be the largest in size when it strikes land. At the moment, Sandy’s winds stretched some 830 km and churned up 3.6-metre seas spanning more than 1,600 km, meteorologists said.
New York and other cities and towns closed their transit systems and schools and ordered residents of low-lying areas to evacuate before a storm surge that could reach as high as 11 feet.
The New York Stock Exchange said it will close its trading floor on Monday for the first time since Hurricane Gloria in 1985, though stocks will still trade electronically. In addition, the United Nations, Broadway theaters, New Jersey casinos, schools up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and a myriad corporate events are all being shut by the storm.
Sandy also blew the presidential race off course, forcing President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to cancel some campaign stops. It fuelled fears that the storm could disrupt early voting before the November 6 election.
Officials ordered people in coastal towns and low-lying areas to evacuate, often telling them they were putting emergency workers’ lives at risk if they stay.
“Don’t be stupid, get out, and go to higher, safer ground,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told a news conference.
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.
Worried residents in the hurricane’s path packed stores, searching for generators, flashlights, batteries, food and other supplies in anticipation of power outages. Nearly 284,000 residential properties valued at $88 billion are at risk for damage, risk analysts at CoreLogic said.Tags : Hurricane Sandy, United States,