Monday and Tuesday are going to be difficult days
Bus and subway service in New York City will shut down Sunday night as the Big Apple braced for Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
President Barack Obama Sunday signed a declaration of a state of emergency in Maryland and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response to the storm.
In its 2 p.m. EDT update, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sandy could generate life-threatening storm surge flooding along the mid-Atlantic Coast, including Long Island Sound and New York Harbor.
The NHC said Sandy was 575 miles south of New York and 270 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., with top sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm was moving northeast at 14 mph.
That general motion was expected to continue Sunday, followed by a turn to the northwest Sunday night and early Monday. On its forecast track, the center of the storm is expected to be near the mid-Atlantic coast Monday night.
Hurricane-force winds extended outward as much as 175 miles from the storm's center and tropical storm-force winds extended as much as 520 miles.
Forecasters said winds could be at hurricane force when Sandy makes landfall, and then weaken as it moves inland.
Commuter rail service in New York will be suspended as the huge storm lumbers along the U.S. Atlantic coast on a path to bring it ashore in northern New Jersey overnight.
"I do think Monday and Tuesday are going to be difficult days," said Joseph Lhota, chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Neighboring New Jersey evacuated coastal areas and ordered casinos along the Atlantic City boardwalk to close Sunday afternoon. The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger said toll booths on the Jersey turnpike were shut down to speed up the flow of traffic away from the shore.
The suspension of public transportation was only part of the hurried preparations under way along the East Coast. The New York Times said hardware stores and supermarkets were mobbed this weekend and states of emergency were declared in six states and the District of Columbia.
Utilities were on full alert and warned coastal residents to expect lengthy power outages during and after the storm. Airlines grounded scores of flights in advance, leaving travelers to rearrange or cancel their trips.
Sandy is expected to plow headlong into a chilly east-bound winter weather system at some point, which forecasters fear will mean a long stretch of stormy weather stretching well inland.
"This is not just going to be a coastal event," said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center.
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