East Coast Braces For Impact From Sandy

A major transit system to shut; evacuation orders issued; election campaigns hit – all in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, the monstrous superstorm that’s making its way to the U.S. East Coast.

Sandy was headed north Sunday from the Caribbean, where it left more than 50 people dead. It was expected to come ashore late Monday or early Tuesday after colliding with a wintry storm from the west and cold Arctic air from the north. It’s expected to make landfall along the New Jersey coast.

The Category 1 storm, which packs 75 mph winds, is about 250 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., as of 11 a.m. Sunday. It was moving northeast at 14 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

New York City announced Sunday that its transit system – subway, buses and trains – would stop running Sunday. Subways would stop running at 7 p.m.; buses at 9 p.m. NPR’s Joel Rose filed a spot for our Newcast unit. Here’s what he had to say:

“New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered New York City’s transit system to suspend bus, subway and commuter rail service starting this evening. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that New York City schools will be closed Monday, and ordered residents in some low-lying areas of the city to evacuate their homes.

“New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had already ordered a mandatory evacuation for barrier islands up and down the Jersey Shore.

“Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy is still over the Atlantic Ocean. It’s likely to turn toward land by tomorrow night, bringing the potential for major flooding and hurricane-force winds from Chincoteague Island in Virginia to Massachusetts.”

Bloomberg said New York City’s school system would be closed Monday, affecting 1.1 million students; 375,000 people in the city’s low-lying areas were also ordered to evacuate.

The planning wasn’t restricted to New York City. Here’s more from The Associated Press: “States of emergency were declared from North Carolina, where gusty winds whipped steady rain on Sunday morning, to Connecticut. Delaware ordered 50,000 people in coastal communities to clear out by 8 p.m. Sunday.”

At the National Hurricane Center in Miami, director Rick Knabb told the AP the storm was so big, and the convergence of the three storms so rare, that “we just can’t pinpoint who is going to get the worst of it.”

The approaching storm forced the two presidential campaigns to alter their plans.

President Obama canceled appearances in northern Virginia on Monday and Colorado on Tuesday. His Republican rival, Mitt Romney, canceled plans to campaign Sunday in Virginia. He instead went to Ohio.

We’ll keep this blog updated through the day and chart Sandy’s path.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.