Tropical Storm Sandy regained hurricane-force winds on Saturday as it headed for the U.S. northeast, where for preparations continue for one of the worst storms in decades along the U.S. East Coast.
Sandy had been downgraded to tropical storm status early Saturday morning, but the National Hurricane Center reported that U.S. Air Force aircraft recorded hurricane-force winds only a couple of hours later.
A state of emergency was declared in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C.. and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press conference that the city may have to evacuate up to 375,000 people before Sandy makes landfall.
“We are taking all the steps that we need to take,” Bloomberg said at a press conference on Friday. “But the storm is moving at a rate that we’re still not going to have a good sense of when and where it’s going to hit land.”
Officials in states along the U.S. East Coast urged residents to stock up on food, water, batteries and other emergency supplies.
"We're expecting a large, large storm," said Louis Uccellini, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Center for Environmental Prediction. "The circulation of this storm as it approaches the coast could cover about the eastern third of the United States."
The storm has been dubbed "Frankenstorm" by the media because it could combine elements of a tropical cyclone with a winter storm to morph into a so-called "super storm."
Sandy ravaged the Bahamas on Friday and inflicted heavy damage on Cuba on Thursday. So far, 41 deaths have been attributed to Sandy in the Caribbean, with 11 deaths reported in Cuba, mostly caused by falling trees and collapsed buildings, Reuters said on Saturday.
The following are a list of developments related to Hurricane Sandy as of Saturday morning:
- Sandy could make landfall on Monday night or Tuesday anywhere from North Carolina to Delaware to Southern New England. Newsday reported that the storm is projected to make landfall Tuesday morning over Maryland.
- The storm could cause flooding, power outages and snow as far inland as Ohio.
- It threatens to disrupt air travel along the entire U.S. East Coast.
- At 8 a.m. EDT Saturday, Hurricane Sandy was approximately 335 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C.
- The U.S. Navy ordered all ships in the Norfolk, Va., area out to sea, including a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, to ride out the storm.
- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney canceled a rally scheduled for Sunday evening in Virginia Beach, Va.
- President Barack Obama's campaign announced that Vice President Joe Biden canceled a trip to Virginia Beach that was scheduled for Saturday.
- Officials in some states are putting in place contingency plans in the event Sandy causes power outages that disrupt early voting.
- In New York, the MTA is considering a total shutdown of subways and buses. If it occurs, it will be only the second shutdown of all buses and subways in MTA history. That will happen if winds reach 39 mph. The last time the MTA shut down subways was during Hurricane Irene last year.
- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will make a decision to evacuate low-lying areas in the city as early as some time on Saturday.
- Hurricane Sandy could cause $3.2 billion in damage, according to CNN Weather; that estimate does not include damage from flooding.
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for every county in the state, and he put the National Guard on alert, freeing up reserve personnel and equipment. A state of emergency allows the state to have additional ability to assist cities, towns, and counties.
- Long Island, N.Y., expects major beach erosion and coastal flooding, Newsday reported. Islip, N.Y., ordered a mandatory evacuation for Fire Island to be completed by 2 p.m. Sunday. The super storm could have winds of up to 80 mph, with 1 to 2 inches of rain an hour, when the hurricane peaks on Monday night or Tuesday morning.
Brett Forman is a writer, editor and musician living in New York.