Four states and the District of Columbia are under states of emergency and forecasters say Hurricane Sandy, blamed for 42 deaths, could become a "superstorm."
In its 11 a.m. EDT update, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sandy -- which has been on a weeklong trek through the Caribbean and past the Bahamas -- was about 190 miles north-northeast of Great Abaco Island and about 355 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C., with top sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm was moving north-northeast at 9 mph.
All tropical storm watches and warnings have been discontinued along the Florida east coast but the storm could affect a 700-mile region from North Carolina to Maine, CNN reported Saturday.
A tropical storm warning was posted for South Santee River, S.C., to Duck, N.C., as well as for Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, and Great Abaco and Bahama islands. A tropical storm watch was in effect for Savannah River to South Santee River and Bermuda. Gale, storm and high wind watches were in effect for areas north of the tropical storm warning areas.
The storm is expected to turn toward the northeast and pick up forward speed Sunday and then turn north Sunday night. On its forecast track, Sandy will move further away from the northwestern Bahamas Saturday and then travel parallel to the U.S southeast coast through the weekend, with little change in strength during the next two days.
Hurricane force winds extend about 105 miles from the center of the storm, and tropical force winds extend as much as 450 miles from the center.
Sandy is expected to merge with a cold front from the west during the weekend. The combined force could force a storm surge into a densely populated region while dumping snow in Appalachia. Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and New York have declared states of emergency.
The White House said President Barack Obama convened a conference call Saturday with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb, and Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan.
"The President reiterated his direction to Administrator Fugate to ensure that federal partners continue to bring all available resources to bear to support state and local responders in potentially affected areas along the Eastern seaboard as they prepare for severe weather," the White House said in a statement.
The White House said FEMA was "proactively deploying Incident Management Assistance Teams to multiple states up and down the Eastern seaboard to ensure they have the support they need as they prepare for the storm."
In addition, the agency is conducting daily briefings with state emergency response teams and sending representatives to state and local emergency operations centers. FEMA is also prepositioning water, meals, blankets and other resources at locations along the East Coast.
New Jersey residents have been stocking up on batteries, bottled water and generators, while bulldozers have been piling mounds of sand around piers along the Jersey shore.
Airlines said they would waive fees for passengers who needed to change flights. Campaign rallies for President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney were canceled in Virginia.
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