May 22, 2013
Hurricane Sandy threatens havoc on US East Coast
Authorities shut transit systems and ordered some evacuations as tens of millions of people on the US East Coast braced on Sunday for Hurricane Sandy, a gigantic storm forecast to deliver battering winds, dangerous flooding and even heavy snowfall.
Sandy, expected to come ashore late on Monday, could deliver a harsh blow to major cities including New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and Boston. Its center was forecast to strike the New York-New Jersey area and then move inland toward Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania.
The sheer size of the storm meant its effects would be felt from the mid-Atlantic states to New England. Officials warned of widespread power outages that could last for days.
Officials ordered school closures in many locations, New Jersey casinos and Broadway theaters prepared to close, airlines got ready to cease flight activity in the New York area, and residents cleared store shelves of vital supplies and food.
President Barack Obama asked residents to heed the orders of state and local authorities to protect themselves from Sandy.
"This is a serious and big storm," Obama said after a briefing at the federal government's storm response center in Washington. "We don't yet know where it's going to hit, where we're going to see the biggest impacts."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of low-lying areas of New York City, including parts of lower Manhattan, that are home to some 375,000 people.
New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia transit authorities said they would begin shutting down service on Sunday afternoon. Maryland's transit system, serving some suburbs of Washington, said it would not open on Monday.
Amtrak, the U.S. passenger rail service, said it canceled nearly all service on the Eastern seaboard on Monday and would halt its service north of New York along the Northeast corridor beginning at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Transit systems in Washington and Boston said they planned to operate as usual on Monday as long as it was safe to do so.
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 (30 cm) of rain in some areas, as well as up to 2 feet (60 cm) of snowfall in the Appalachian Mountains from West Virginia to Kentucky.
The New York Stock Exchange trading floor will close on Monday for the first time since 1985's Hurricane Gloria, exchange officials said. All stocks listed on the exchange will trade electronically, NYSE Euronext said.
Nasdaq planned to open on Monday despite the transit shutdown and evacuation orders, with big banks putting up key personnel in hotels overnight Sunday so that they would be able to make it in Monday morning.
The CME said it would suspend floor trading on the NYMEX oil market on Monday, as its building is located in the New York City evacuation zone near the Hudson River. It said that electronic trading would go on as usual.