Hurricane Sandy slowly moves up the East Coast - Tucson News Now

East Coast braces for Hurricane Sandy

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Hurricane Sandy churns out in the Atlantic Ocean, worrying forecasters about the possible storm surge. (Source: WECT) Hurricane Sandy churns out in the Atlantic Ocean, worrying forecasters about the possible storm surge. (Source: WECT)
Residents of Annapolis, MD prepare sandbags. Annapolis is located right on the water of the Chesapeake Bay. (Source: CNN) Residents of Annapolis, MD prepare sandbags. Annapolis is located right on the water of the Chesapeake Bay. (Source: CNN)
According to the National Weather Service, Sandy is expected to bring strong winds and a significant storm surge to the mid-Atlantic states and Southern New England. (Source: NHC) According to the National Weather Service, Sandy is expected to bring strong winds and a significant storm surge to the mid-Atlantic states and Southern New England. (Source: NHC)
Residents of Ocean City, MD, boarded up homes and businesses in preparation of Hurricane Sandy on Sunday. (Source: CNN) Residents of Ocean City, MD, boarded up homes and businesses in preparation of Hurricane Sandy on Sunday. (Source: CNN)
Residents in Washington empty store shelves of water and other supplies in advance of Hurricane Sandy. (Source: CNN) Residents in Washington empty store shelves of water and other supplies in advance of Hurricane Sandy. (Source: CNN)

(RNN) – From North Carolina to Maine, Hurricane Sandy has forced millions to evacuate, closed businesses and mass transit systems and has grounded thousands of flights.

Although the center of the storm is off the coast of North Carolina, winds are already picking up in New York and Connecticut.

"Hurricane-force winds are expected along the coast from Chincoteague, Virginia, to Chatham, Massachusetts. This includes the tidal Potomac from Cobb Island to Smith Point, the middle and upper Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, the coast of the northern Delmarva Peninsula, New Jersey, the New York City area, Long Island, Connecticut and Rhode Island," said a statement from the National Hurricane Center.

A Category 1 storm, Sandy is currently moving past North Carolina is currently moving north at 14 mph with 75 mph winds, and is expected to make landfall somewhere over New Jersey.

The NHC forecasts total rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches, with isolated 8 inch amounts possible over far eastern North Carolina. Amounts of 4 to 8 inches, with isolated 12 inch amounts, are possible over portions of the mid-Atlantic States, including the Delmarva Peninsula. Amounts of 1 to 3 inches, with isolated 5 inch amounts, are possible across southern New York through New England.

What concerns forecasters is the possible storm surge with Sandy. With Sandy moving from east-to-west, the storm surge is expected to be particularly high – 6 to 11 feet - in northern New Jersey, New York City and Long Island environmental prediction chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Louis Uccellini, told The Associated Press.

But if the full moon and the strong storm surge wasn't enough to make Sandy a destructive storm, the hurricane is running into two winter storm systems that will bring snow to states as far away as Ohio.

Ice and snow on power lines means power could be knocked out for millions of people.

"I've been really frightened about it. My husband is taking it with a grain of salt, but I'm filled with anxiety not knowing what's going to happen," said Terry Monroe, of Toms River, NJ.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency and has mandatory evacuation for coastal areas - even closing the casinos in Atlantic City.

"Don't be stupid, get out. Go to higher ground," Christie urged in a news conference.

Monroe lives nine miles from the Jersey coastline, but is outside of the evacuation zone, but she and her husband are prepared, having brought in lawn chairs, placed duct tape on the sliding glass doors and even filling their bathtub with water in case their supply runs out.

President Obama signed federal emergency declarations on Sunday for Maryland, New York and Massachusetts. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has requested a pre-landfall declaration as well.

FEMA released information on its website letting people in the targeted areas know they should prepare for the worst.

"It's clear the impacts of the storm will be felt across a wide area," FEMA spokesman Lars Anderson stated. "These impacts could include heavy rains and snowfall, flooding, high winds, storm surge and power outages … forecasters are calling for significant rainfall, which may result in flooding in some areas. We recommend you check the items in your family emergency kit and make sure you have supplies that can sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours."

If residents waited too long to get supplies, it might be too late. Store shelves are bare with people stocking up on water, bread, butter, milk, non-perishable food and generators.

Ann Takseraas, of Darien, CT, went to the store on Sunday because she realized she had forgotten to purchase bread.

"The shelves for the bread were completely empty, I just got two loaves. There's no more water. All the nonperishable food is gone. The cereal aisle is empty, the canned food aisle is mostly empty," she said. "You can really tell people are packing up on things."

Which also includes gas. Takseraas said that the gas station near her house is completely dry - and she didn't fill up her car, but she's not worried about it.

"My car is a very old car, a '92 Chevy, if a tree that falls on it, what good is to have a full tank of gas? I'd rather keep my money to buy food if we need to," she said. "We have a truck, and it's filled with gas, we don't need two cars filled gas."

In a news conference Sunday afternoon, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged in both English and Spanish residents living in low-lying and coastal areas to evacuate and that more than 70 shelters have been set up.

"If you refuse to evacuate you're not only putting yourself at risk but the first responders who will have to rescue you," Bloomberg said.

For safety and to discourage people from staying in the affected areas, Bloomberg announced and that utilities to these areas will be cut off for safety, including water and heat.

Schools in Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland have canceled school for Monday.

Subway service in New York City - the largest mass transit system in the U.S. - suspended subway service at 7 p.m. ET Sunday, including commuter trains, and bus service will stop at 9 p.m.

Washington's subway system also has suspended service for Monday.

Airlines are also feeling Sandy's wrath. More than 5,000 flights have been grounded up and down the East Coast

Its combination with a pair of winter storms could intensify Sandy as it hits land, creating conditions similar to the 1991 "Perfect Storm" that hit the northeast. Some weather forecasters called the potentially devastating mix of the hurricane and weather coming from the Midwest a "Frankenstorm."

The danger is that residents could be experiencing hurricane force winds, flooding, and snow. Takseraas said that she has been told to expect all three. States inland, such as Ohio and western Pennsylvania, as well as northern states, like Main and Connecticut, could also see snow and ice.

The storm is so large, the National Hurricane Center said Sandy's hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 520 miles. Gale-force winds should reach the mid-Atlantic coast later today, and reach Long Island and southern New England by Monday morning.

"We're looking at impact of greater than 50 to 60 million people," said Louis Uccellini, head of environmental prediction for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told the Associated Press.

Both private and federal meteorologists called it a storm that would likely go down in the history books.

"We don't have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting," NOAA forecaster Jim Cisco told the Associated Press.

Power crews from other states are headed to the East Coast to help with possible power outages. CNN reports ComEd is sending more than 240 crews to help in Philadelphia and Baltimore.

The storm is being blamed for at least 60 deaths in Puerto Rico, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Panama and Dominican Republic.

An increase in speed is expected Sunday, and a turn to the north is expected by Sunday night. CNN Weather estimated wind damage, not including flooding, from Sandy could reach $3.2 billion.

Creating a different kind of October Surprise, Sandy has also sidelined the campaign trail for both candidates.

President Obama and Mitt Romney canceled campaign trips to Virginia due to the weather; however both are scheduled to visit the important swing state of Florida, which Sandy missed.

States inland will experience both wind and rain from the storm as well as snow.

According to the NHC, snow accumulations of 2 to 3 feet are expected in the West Virginia tonight through Tuesday Night. The southwestern Virginia mountains are forecast to see 12 t o18 inches of snow.

Beth Finch Parker, of Mechanicsburg, PA, lives near the Susquehanna River and is expecting rain and possibly snow, but is prepared.

"We have an emergency kit that is always stocked; lots of water, bleach in case we have to disinfect our own water and MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) because they more compact than canned goods," she said.

Parker admits she may roll with emergencies a bit better having lived in Virginia, Florida and Rhode Island, but being prepared takes away the stress of impending storm.

Sandy is the rain and possibly snow 18th named tropical storm or hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, and Tropical Storm Tony, spinning harmlessly in the Atlantic, makes 19. An average season sees about 12 named storms and hurricanes

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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