Superstorm Sandy slams into Atlantic coast, sends surge of seawater against NYC
By Erin McClam,Katie Zezima, The Associated Press
October 30, 2012, 1:22 pm TWN
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New Jersey coastline and hurled a record-breaking 13-foot (4-meter) surge of seawater at New York City on Monday, roaring ashore and putting the presidential campaign on hold a week before Election Day. At least 10 deaths were blamed on the storm.
Sandy knocked out power to at least 5.2 million people across the U.S. East, and New York's main utility said large sections of Manhattan had been plunged into darkness by the storm, with 250,000 customers without power as water pressed into the island from three sides, flooding rail yards, subway tracks, tunnels and roads.
Just before its center reached land, the storm was stripped of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature. It still packed hurricane-force wind, and forecasters were careful to say it remained every bit as dangerous to the 50 million people in its path.
The full extent of the storm's damage across the region was unclear, and unlikely to become known until day break. Heavy rain and further flooding remain major threats over the next couple of days as the storm makes its way into Pennsylvania and up into New York State. Near midnight, the centre of the storm was just outside Philadelphia, and its winds were down to 75 mph (120 kph), just barely hurricane strength.
The National Hurricane Center announced at 8 p.m. that Sandy had come ashore near Atlantic City. It smacked the boarded-up big cities of the Northeast corridor, from Washington and Baltimore to Philadelphia, New York and Boston, with stinging rain and gusts of more than 85 mph (135 kph). The sea surged a record of nearly 13 feet (4 metres) at the foot of Manhattan, flooding the financial district and subway tunnels.
The 10 deaths were in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police in Toronto said a woman was killed by a falling sign as high winds closed in on Canada's largest city.
As it made its way toward land, it converged with a cold-weather system that turned into a fearsome superstorm, a monstrous hybrid consisting not only of rain and high wind but of snow. Forecasters warned of 20-foot (6-meter) waves bashing into the Chicago lakefront and up to 3 feet (0.9 metres) of snow in West Virginia.
Storm damage was projected at $10 billion to $20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney suspended their campaigning with just over a week to go before Election Day.
At the White House, Obama made a direct appeal to those in harm's way: "Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Don't delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given, because this is a powerful storm."