US superstorm threat looms

20:51, Oct 28 2012
A wave crashes over the protecting sandbags in front of the houses on the east side of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina.
A wave crashes over the protecting sandbags in front of the houses on the east side of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. The area has been ravaged by several storms over the years and has suffered severe erosions problems.
US Route 30, the White Horse Pike, one of three major approaches to Atlantic City, New Jersey, is covered with water from Absecon Bay in this view looking west, during the approach of Hurricane Sandy.
US Route 30, the White Horse Pike, one of three major approaches to Atlantic City, New Jersey, is covered with water from Absecon Bay in this view looking west, during the approach of Hurricane Sandy.
A truck drives through water pushed over a road by Hurricane Sandy in Southampton, New York.
A truck drives through water pushed over a road by Hurricane Sandy in Southampton, New York.
An Army vehicle makes its way down a flooded street in Ocean City, Maryland, as Hurricane Sandy intensifies.
An Army vehicle makes its way down a flooded street in Ocean City, Maryland, as Hurricane Sandy intensifies.
Bracing against the wind, a man wades through a street flooded during Hurricane Sandy in Ocean City, Maryland.
Bracing against the wind, a man wades through a street flooded during Hurricane Sandy in Ocean City, Maryland.
A wall of water batters what remains of the fishing pier in Ocean City, Maryland as Hurricane Sandy intensifies.
A wall of water batters what remains of the fishing pier in Ocean City, Maryland as Hurricane Sandy intensifies.
A marina floods onto the road as Hurricane Sandy hits Ocean City, Maryland.
A marina floods onto the road as Hurricane Sandy hits Ocean City, Maryland.
Two boys run down Foster Avenue while dodging high winds and waves from the effects of Hurricane Sandy in Marshfield, Massachusetts.
Two boys run down Foster Avenue while dodging high winds and waves from the effects of Hurricane Sandy in Marshfield, Massachusetts.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Siding was ripped off of this house in high winds from Hurricane Sandy in Scituate, Massachusetts.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
A man walks into the wind across the Hudson River from the skyline of New York in Hoboken, New Jersey.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Streets are deserted as Hurricane Sandy comes ashore in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Men try to save a boat which became unmoored and washed up on shore due to high winds from Hurricane Sandy in Scituate, Massachusetts.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Kiwi Dave Turner, who's studying at Harvard, took this photo of some of the storm damage in his street in Cambridge.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Kiwi Dave Turner said the tree took out power to his street. He said it was pretty wet and windy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the moment, just "like Wellington on a bad day".
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
A construction vehicle drives through the flooded streets of Brooklyn, New York.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
A local resident navigates the flooded streets of Brooklyn.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Storm surf kicked up by the high winds from Hurricane Sandy floods through a home in Southampton, New York.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Young boys play video games while in the sleeping area of a Red Cross shelter in Hampton Bays, New York.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
A driver stops to watch storm surf kicked up by the high winds from Hurricane Sandy in Southampton, New York.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Fire fighters gather in front of a partially collapsed four-storey apartment building in Manhattan. The building's facade collapsed after high winds hit New York City.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Floodwaters surround a car parked on a street in Hoboken, New Jersey.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
A man stands in front of a flooded building in Manhattan.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
A deluge of water floods the Battery Tunnel in Manhattan.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Floodwaters from super storm Sandy rush into the Port Authority Trans-Hudson's Hoboken, New Jersey station through an elevator shaft.
A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in winds from Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Fire and rescue crews lead a boat of power workers through flood waters after their power station was over run by flood waters in New York.
Residents, including a young child, are rescued by emergency personnel from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little Ferry, New Jersey.
Residents, including a child, are rescued by emergency personnel from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little Ferry, New Jersey.
A New York carpark is submerged.
A New York carpark is submerged.
Sandy flooding
Damage along the shoreline caused by Hurricane Sandy in Milford, Connecticut.
The Bounty
The Bounty replica is submerged off the US's East Coast.
Residents walk along Broadway Avenue as they inspect damage from Hurricane Sandy in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey.
Residents walk along Broadway Avenue as they inspect damage from Hurricane Sandy in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey.
Water pushed up by Hurricane Sandy splashes into the window of a building standing by the shore in Bellport, New York.
Water pushed up by Hurricane Sandy splashes into the window of a building standing by the shore in Bellport, New York.
Residents of Rockaways, New York, survey the devastation caused by a fire which broke out during Hurricane Sandy.
Residents of Rockaways, New York, survey the devastation caused by a fire which broke out during Hurricane Sandy.

Weather forecasters worked to pinpoint the likely landfall of the monstrous Hurricane Sandy as it closed in on the United States’ East Coast with the potential to be the biggest storm to hit the mainland.

Government officials faced tough decisions on emergency plans as residents scrambled to purchase supplies. Governors of several states in the hurricane's path declared emergencies and ordered mandatory evacuations of vulnerable coastal areas.

On its current projected track, Sandy is most likely to make US landfall on Monday night (local time) between Delaware and the New York/New Jersey area, forecasters said.

While Sandy's winds were not overwhelming for a hurricane, its width was what made it exceptional. The storm's hurricane force winds extended 170 kilometres from its centre while its lesser tropical storm-force winds reached across 1100 kilometres.

Sandy could have a brutal impact on major cities in the target zone. In New York, city officials discussed whether to shut the subway system in advance of the storm, which could bring the county's financial nerve center to a standstill.

The storm could cause the worst flooding Connecticut has seen in more than 70 years, said the state's governor, Dannel P Malloy.

Government forecasters at the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said as the storm approached land it became increasingly pointless to predict the precise landfall.

"It is still too soon to focus on the exact track ... both because of forecast uncertainty and because the impacts are going to cover such a large area away from the center," the NHC said in an advisory.

The storm was moving over the Atlantic parallel to the US coast at 22kph, but was forecast to make a tight westerly turn toward the US coast on Sunday night (Monday NZT).

RECORD BREAKER

Sandy could be the largest storm to hit the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website.

"The size of this alone, affecting a heavily populated area, is going to be history making," said Jeff Masters, a hurricane specialist who writes a blog posted on the Weather Underground.

Sandy could impact the cities of Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington, DC and Philadelphia, one of the most densely populated regions of the country home to tens of millions of people.

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 30cm of rain in some areas, as well as heavy snowfall inland.

Sandy killed at least 66 people as it made its way through the Caribbean islands, including 51 in Haiti, mostly from flash flooding and mudslides, according to authorities.

ELECTION LOOMS

The approaching storm forced a change of plans for both presidential candidates ahead of the November 6 election. The White House said President Obama canceled a campaign appearance in Virginia on Monday and another stop in Colorado on Tuesday, and will instead monitor the storm from Washington.

Republican challenger Mitt Romney rescheduled campaign events planned for Virginia on Sunday and was flying to Ohio instead.

All along the US coast worried residents packed stores, buying generators, candles, food and other supplies in anticipation of power outages. Some local governments announced schools would be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

"They're freaking out," said Joe Dautel, a clerk at a hardware store in Glenside, Pennsylvania. "I'm selling people four, five, six packs of batteries - when I had them."

Advertisement

Reuters