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    The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers tips on how to prepare for Hurricane Sandy and other tropical storms. Sandy is expected to be especially disastrous when it merges with a winter storm system, bringing powerful winds, rain, snow and storm surge along the Eastern Seaboard.

    Before the hurricane:

    - Know your surroundings and whether your home is in a flood prone area. Determine where you would go - and how you would get there - if you were ordered to evacuate

    - Cover your home's windows, either with permanent storm shutters or marine plywood at least 5/8 of an inch thick

    - Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well-trimmed

    - Clear clogged rain gutters

    - Secure all outdoor furniture, decorations, trash cans and anything else that could blow away.

    - Install a generator for emergencies

    During:

    - Listen to the radio or TV for information

    - Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors

    - Turn off propane tanks

    - Avoid using the phone except for serious emergencies

    - Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water

    - Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors

    Do not:

    - Drive into low-lying areas or over roads and bridges that are already under water

    If evacuating, bring:

    - Checkbooks

    - Driver's license

    - Credit card information

    - Birth certificates

    - Social Security cards

    ___

    Source: FEMA.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks up Waves, Threatens Coast

     

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    Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers cover subway ventilation grates with plywood to help prevent flooding at South Ferry, Friday in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

    NEW YORK (AP) - New York City's subways, buses and commuter trains, which make up the nation's largest transit system, are shutting down Sunday night in advance of the massive storm expected to hit the eastern third of the United States.

    "A situation like this, you don't want to be overly panicked and overly prepared, but you want to be prudent, you want to do what's necessary," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday in announcing the suspension.

    Hurricane Sandy was headed north from the Caribbean, and was expected to meet a winter storm and a cold front to create a megastorm expected to cause chaos over 800 miles.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Megastorm Could Wreak Havoc Across 800 Miles of U.S.

    "As the storm has not changed course, the storm is still heading to this general area. ... We think it's prudent now to take additional action," Cuomo said.

    With a daily ridership of more than 5 million, New York City's subway system is by far the nation's largest. Many New Yorkers do not have cars and depend on subways and buses to get to work, school and around town.

    Cuomo says the system will be suspended starting at 7 p.m. Sunday, when the last subways and final Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road commuter trains would run. The last buses will run at 9 p.m. He said the decision to shut down the area's bridges and tunnels would be made on a case-by-case basis.

    It was the second time in two years that a weather-related suspension has taken place. Service was also suspended during Tropical Storm Irene last year.

    Witlet Maceno, an emergency room nurse working at Manhattan's Mount Sinai Hospital, was headed home to Staten Island on Sunday morning after his overnight shift.

    He said he was going home to check on his parents, visiting from Atlanta, before he returns to work Sunday evening.

    "I'm making sure they're OK, that they have water and food, and that the windows are shut tight," he said. "And I'm going to remove stuff outside that could go flying into the windows" of his street-level apartment.

    He said he's counting on the security guard at his gated community to respond to any emergency his parents might have, since the house telephone is linked to a combined TV and Internet line that could be knocked out.

    "I don't have a regular landline," he said. "But I think they'll be OK."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast

     

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    Updated Oct. 29, 2012, 11:43 a.m. ET

    Passengers wait for their flight at at New York's LaGuardia airport on Sunday. (AP)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Hurricane Sandy grounded thousands of flights in the U.S. northeast Monday and upended travel plans across the globe, stranding passengers from Hong Kong to Europe. The massive storm threatens to bring a near halt to air travel for at least two days in a key region for both domestic and international flights.

    Major carriers such as American Airlines, United and Delta cancelled all flights into and out of three area airports in New York, the nation's busiest airspace. According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, nearly 10,000 flights had been canceled for Monday and Tuesday, almost all related to the storm.

    Delays rippled across the U.S., affecting travelers in cities such as San Francisco to Chicago. Disruptions spread to Europe and Asia, where airlines canceled or delayed flights to New York and Washington from cities that are major travel hubs including London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast
    About one-quarter of all U.S. flights travel in or out of New York airports each day. So cancellations here can dramatically impact travel in other cities.

    Businessman Alan Shrem was trying to return home to Boca Raton, Fla. His Monday morning Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to New York's Kennedy airport was canceled.

    He learned he could be stuck in Hong Kong for nearly a week because the next available seat was Nov. 4. He was put on a waiting list for seats that could become available earlier.

    "They just say: Yeah, it's a pretty big waiting list," said Shrem, throwing up his hands. In the meantime, he'll have to fork out $400 a night to continue staying at a nearby hotel. The airline won't pay for accommodation for stranded passengers if delays are weather related.

    Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy is about 310 miles southeast of New York City, and the center of the storm is expected to be near the mid-Atlantic coast on Monday night. The National Hurricane Center said early Monday that the storm has top sustained winds of 85 mph, with higher gusts. Sandy is on track to collide with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic.

    Airports in the metropolitan New York City area are open, but air carriers are not operating.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live
    The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Monday that travelers shouldn't even try to go to Kennedy, Newark Liberty, LaGuardia and Stewart airports

    Air travel in the Northeast started getting complicated on Sunday, when passengers were reporting multi-hour wait times at airline call centers.

    Eileen Merberg, 50, was booked on a United flight from her home in Rochester, N.Y. to New Orleans, connecting at Washington D.C.'s Dulles airport.

    She received an email saying the Washington flight was canceled. United rebooked her first on a flight through Newark and, when that flight was also canceled, on another flight through Chicago.

    By that point, she already had told the higher education conference that she was scheduled to speak at that she wouldn't be coming. She tried to cancel her flight over the phone. After two lengthy waits - her cell phone battery ran out during the first one - she just hung up.

    JetBlue Airways Corp. expects its cancellations from Sunday through Tuesday to total about 1,200. The airline has hubs at Kennedy airport and Boston's Logan. Rob Maruster, chief operating officer of JetBlue, hopes to resume New York flights on Wednesday morning. But he's worried about flooding of JFK's runways since they are all basically at sea level and near bodies of water.

    RELATED ON SKYE: East Coast Grinds to a Halt as Superstorm Nears

    Delta Air Lines Inc. has canceled 2,100 flights over the three days. American Airlines has scrapped 1,000 flights, including 260 on regional affiliate American Eagle.

    International travelers would have to wait to get to the East Coast of the U.S. All flights from Paris to Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington - a total of 14 - were canceled. Air France has canceled four into JFK and two departures.

    Frankfurt airport canceled 12 flights, with German carrier Lufthansa scrapping three to the Northeast and one out of Newark. British Airways had to cancel all its flights to and from New York, Newark, Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston and Philadelphia - a total of 20.

    Eight flights out of Tokyo's Narita International Airport to New York, Newark and Washington were canceled Monday.

    Hong Kong's Cathay canceled its two daily flights to New York for Monday and Tuesday and Air India said its daily flights to Newark and JFK had halted since Sunday.

    South Korean flag carrier Korean Air delayed a flight scheduled to leave Incheon International Airport for JFK on Monday by 22 hours. Asiana Airlines delayed its JFK flight from Seoul by 26 hours.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast

     

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    Updated Sunday, Oct. 28, 11:20 p.m. ET

    High winds blow sea foam into the air as a person walks across Jeanette's Pier in Nags Head, N.C., Sunday as wind and rain from Hurricane Sandy move into the area. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Big cities from Washington to Boston braced Sunday for the onslaught of a superstorm that could menace 50 million people in the most heavily populated corridor in the U.S., with forecasters warning New York could be in particular peril.

    Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate warned that the "time for preparing and talking is about over," as Hurricane Sandy made its way up the Atlantic on a collision course with two other weather systems that could turn it into one of the most fearsome storms on record in the U.S.

    "People need to be acting now," he said.

    Forecasters warned that the megastorm could wreak havoc over 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) from the East Coast to the Great Lakes. States of emergency were declared from North Carolina to Connecticut.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast
    Airlines canceled more than 7,600 flights and Amtrak began suspending passenger train service across the Northeast. New York and Philadelphia moved to shut down their subways, buses and commuter trains Sunday night and announced that schools would be closed on Monday. Boston, Washington and Baltimore also called off school.

    As rain from the leading edges of the monster hurricane began to fall over the Northeast, tens of thousands of people in coastal areas from Maryland to Connecticut were under orders to clear out Sunday. That included 50,000 in Delaware alone and 30,000 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where the city's 12 casinos were forced to shut down for only the fourth time in the 34-year history of legalized gambling there.

    Authorities warned that the biggest U.S. city could get hit with an 11-foot (3.3-meter) wall of water that could swamp parts of lower Manhattan, flood subway tunnels and cripple the network of electrical and communications lines that are vital to the nation's financial center.

    Sandy, a Category 1 hurricane, is about 470 miles (756 kilometers) southeast of New York City and the center of the storm is expected to be near the mid-Atlantic coast on Monday night.

    The National Hurricane Center said late Sunday night that the storm has top sustained winds of 75 mph (121 kph), with higher gusts. It is moving toward the northeast at 14 mph (23 kph). Hurricane-force winds extend up to 175 miles (284 kilometers) from the storm's center.

    Sandy was expected to hook left toward the mid-Atlantic coast and come ashore late Monday or early Tuesday, most likely in New Jersey, colliding with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic.

    Forecasters said the monster combination could bring close to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain, a potentially lethal storm surge and punishing winds extending hundreds of miles (kilometers) outward from the storm's center. It could also dump up to 2 feet (60 centimeters) of snow in Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live
    Louis Uccellini, environmental prediction chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press that given Sandy's east-to-west track into New Jersey, the worst of the storm surge could be just to the north, in New York City, Long Island and northern New Jersey.

    Forecasters said that because of giant waves and high tides made worse by a full moon, the metropolitan area of about 20 million people could get slammed with an 11-foot (3.3-meter) wall of water.

    "This is the worst-case scenario," Uccellini said.

    New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned people in low-lying areas of lower Manhattan and Queens to get out.

    "If you don't evacuate, you are not only endangering your life, you are also endangering the lives of the first responders who are going in to rescue you," he said. "This is a serious and dangerous storm."

    New Jersey's famously blunt Gov. Chris Christie was less polite: "Don't be stupid. Get out."

    New York called off school Monday for the city's 1.1 million students and announced it would suspend all train, bus and subway service Sunday night because of the risk of flooding, shutting down a system on which more than 5 million riders a day depend.

    The New York Stock Exchange announced it will close its trading floor Monday but continue to trade electronically, despite fears from some experts that flooding could knock out the underground network of power, phone and high-speed Internet lines that are vital to the nation's financial capital.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tips on Preparing for the Megastorm

    Officials also postponed Monday's reopening of the Statue of Liberty, which had been closed for a year for $30 million in renovations.

    In Washington, President Barack Obama promised the government would "respond big and respond fast" after the storm hits.

    "My message to the governors as well as to the mayors is anything they need, we will be there, and we will cut through red tape. We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules," he said.

    He also pleaded for neighborliness: "In times like this, one of the things that Americans do is we pull together and we help out one another And so, there may be elderly populations in your area. Check on your neighbor, check on your friend. Make sure that they are prepared. If we do, then we're going to get through this storm just fine."

    The storm forced the president and Republican rival Mitt Romney to rearrange their campaign schedules in the crucial closing days of the presidential race. And early voting on Monday in Washington and Maryland was canceled.

    Shelters across the region began taking in people.

    "We were told to get the heck out. I was going to stay, but it's better to be safe than sorry," said Hugh Phillips, who was one of the first in line when a Red Cross shelter in Lewes, Delaware, opened at noon.

    "I think this one's going to do us in," said Mark Palazzolo, who boarded up his bait-and-tackle shop in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, with the same wood he used in past storms, crossing out the names of Hurricanes Isaac and Irene and spray-painting "Sandy" next to them. "I got a call from a friend of mine from Florida last night who said, 'Mark. Get out! If it's not the storm, it'll be the aftermath. People are going to be fighting in the streets over gasoline and food.'"

    RELATED ON SKYE: Hurricane Sandy Grounds Thousands of Flights

    At least twice as many train passengers as usual crowded the Amtrak waiting area Sunday morning at New York's Penn Station. Many were trying to leave New York earlier than planned.

    The noon and 1 p.m. trains to Boston were sold out. Randall Ross, a bookseller from Shreveport, Louisiana, and his traveling companion, Mary McCombs, were waiting for an Amtrak train to Syracuse, the destination they chose after attempts to book flights through eight other cities failed.

    "I just want to be somewhere else except New York City," said McCombs, who will stay with friends in Syracuse until she and Ross can get a flight. "I don't want to risk it."

    Despite the dire warnings, some souls were refusing to budge.

    Jonas Clark of Manchester Township, New Jersey - right in the area where Sandy was projected to come ashore - stood outside a convenience store, calmly sipping a coffee and wondering why people were working themselves "into a tizzy."

    "I've seen a lot of major storms in my time, and there's nothing you can do but take reasonable precautions and ride out things the best you can," said Clark, 73. "Nature's going to what it's going to do. It's great that there's so much information out there about what you can do to protect yourself and your home, but it all boils down basically to 'use your common sense.'"

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast

     

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    A car goes through high water as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast, Sunday, Oct. 28 in Ocean City, Md. (AP)

    KENSINGTON, Md. (AP) - The projected storm surge from Hurricane Sandy is a "worst case scenario" with devastating waves and tides predicted for the highly populated New York City metro area, government forecasters said Sunday.

    The more they observe it, the more the experts worry about the water - which usually kills and does more damage than winds in hurricanes.

    In this case, seas will be amped up by giant waves and full-moon-powered high tides. That will combine with drenching rains, triggering inland flooding as the hurricane merges with a winter storm system that will worsen it and hold it in place for days.

    Louis Uccellini, environmental prediction chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press that given Sandy's due east-to-west track into New Jersey, that puts the worst of the storm surge just north in New York City, Long Island and northern New Jersey. "Yes, this is the worst case scenario," he said.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast
    In a measurement of pure kinetic energy, NOAA's hurricane research division on Sunday ranked the surge and wave "destruction potential" for Sandy - just the hurricane, not the hybrid storm it will eventually become - at 5.8 on a 0 to 6 scale. The damage expected from winds will be far less, experts said. Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters says that surge destruction potential number is a record and it's due to the storm's massive size.

    "You have a lot of wind acting over a long distance of water for hundreds of miles" and that piles the storm surge up when it finally comes ashore, Masters said. Even though it doesn't pack much power in maximum wind speed, the tremendous size of Sandy - more than 1,000 miles across with tropical storm force winds - adds to the pummelling power when it comes ashore, he said.

    The storm surge energy numbers are bigger than the deadly 2005 Hurricane Katrina, but that can be misleading. Katrina's destruction was concentrated in a small area, making it much worse, Masters said. Sandy's storm surge energy is spread over a wider area. Also, Katrina hit a city that is below sea level and had problems with levees.

    National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb said Hurricane Sandy's size means some coastal parts of New York and New Jersey may see water rise from 6 to 11 feet from surge and waves. The rest of the coast north of Virginia can expect 4 to 8 feet of surge.

    The full moon Monday will add 2 to 3 inches to the storm surge in New York, Masters said.

    "If the forecasts hold true in terms of the amount of rainfall and the amount of coastal flooding, that's going to be what drives up the losses and that's what's going to hurt," said Susan Cutter, director of the hazards and vulnerability research institute at the University of South Carolina.

    Cutter said she worries about coastal infrastructure, especially the New York subways, which were shutting down Sunday night.

    Klaus Jacob, a Columbia University researcher who has advised the city on coastal risks, said, "We have to prepare to the extent we can, but I'm afraid that from a subway point of view, I think it's beyond sheer preparations. I do not think that there's enough emergency measures that will help prevent the subway from flooding."

    Knabb said millions of people may be harmed by inland flooding.

    A NOAA map of inland and coastal flood watches covers practically the entire Northeast: all of Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut; most of Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and Vermont, and parts of northeastern Ohio, eastern Virginia, North Carolina, and western New Hampshire.

    Along the mid-Atlantic coast, storm surge is already starting to build, Uccellini said. NOAA's Coastal Services Center chief Margaret Davidson said to expect "bodacious impacts" from both surge and inland flooding.

    The surge - in which water steadily increases from the ocean- will be worst in the areas north of where Sandy comes ashore.

    New York will have the most intense storm surge if Sandy comes ashore anywhere in New Jersey, Uccellini said. Only if it arrives farther south, such as Delaware, will New York see a slightly, only slightly, smaller storm surge.

    In general, areas to the south and west of landfall will get the heaviest of rains. Some areas of Delaware and the Maryland and Virginia peninsula will see a foot of rain over the several days the storm parks in the East, Uccellini said. The rest of the mid-Atlantic region may see closer to 4 to 8 inches, NOAA forecasts.

    The good news about inland flooding is that the rivers and ground aren't as saturated as they were last year when Hurricane Irene struck, causing nearly $16 billion in damage, much of it from inland flooding in places like Vermont, Uccellini and Masters said.

    The storm, which threatens roughly 50 million in the eastern third of the country, began as three systems. Two of those - an Arctic blast from the north and a normal winter storm front with a low-pressure trough- have combined. Hurricane Sandy will meld with those once it comes ashore, creating a hybrid storm with some of the nastier characteristics of a hurricane and a nor'easter, experts have said.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    Posted Sunday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m. ET

    Sandy's Impact on Millions, Cost Billions

     

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    Megastorm Barrels Toward Eastern U.S. Latest Coverage Here.

     

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    Updated Monday, Oct. 29, 11:31 a.m.

    Waves wash over the sea wall near high tide at Battery Park in New York on Monday. (AP)

    NEW YORK (AP) - A fast-strengthening Hurricane Sandy churned north Monday, raking ghost-town cities along the Northeast corridor with rain and wind gusts. Subways and schools were closed across the region of 50 million people, the floor of the New York Stock Exchange was deserted, and thousands fled inland.

    Forecasters expected the monster hurricane to make a westward lurch and aim for New Jersey, blowing ashore Monday night and combining with two other weather systems to create an epic superstorm.

    Its projected path put New York City and Long Island in the danger zone for a huge surge of seawater made more fearsome by high tides and a full moon.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast
    "This is the worst-case scenario," said Louis Uccellini, environmental prediction chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    By late morning, the storm's top winds had strengthened to 90 mph. It was about 200 miles southeast of Atlantic City, N.J., where the emptied-out streets were mostly under water and where an old section of the historic boardwalk broke up and washed away.

    Authorities moved to close the Holland Tunnel, which connects New York and New Jersey, and a tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Street grates above the New York subway were boarded up, but officials worried that seawater would seep in and damage the switches.

    Because the storm is so big, with tropical storm-force winds extending almost 500 miles from its center, it could upend daily life for big cities and small towns alike across the Northeast - including Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston - and as far west as the Great Lakes. Up to 3 feet of snow was forecast for the West Virginia mountains.

    Millions of people in the storm's path stayed home from work. Subways, buses and trains shut down, and more than 7,000 flights in and out of the East were canceled, snarling travel around the globe. Hundreds of thousands of people were under orders to flee the coast, including 375,000 in lower Manhattan and other parts of New York City, but authorities warned that the time to get out was short or already past.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live
    "I think this one's going to do us in," said Mark Palazzolo, who boarded up his bait-and-tackle shop in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., with the same wood he used in past storms, crossing out the names of Hurricanes Isaac and Irene and spray-painting "Sandy" next to them.

    "I got a call from a friend of mine from Florida last night who said, 'Mark, get out! If it's not the storm, it'll be the aftermath. People are going to be fighting in the streets over gasoline and food.'"

    President Barack Obama declared emergencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, authorizing federal relief work to begin well ahead of time. He promised the government would "respond big and respond fast" after the storm hits.

    "My message to the governors as well as to the mayors is anything they need, we will be there, and we will cut through red tape," Obama said. "We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules."

    Sandy, a Category 1 hurricane, was blamed for 65 deaths in the Caribbean before it began traveling northward, parallel to the Eastern Seaboard. As of 11 a.m., it was moving at 18 mph, with hurricane-force winds extending an extraordinary 175 miles from its center.

    About 90 miles off Cape Hatteras, N.C., the Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members by helicopter from a replica of the 18th-century tall ship made famous in the movie "Mutiny on the Bounty." The Coast Guard searched for two other crew members.

    RELATED ON SKYE: A State-by-State Look at the Superstorm

    The rescued had donned survival suits and life jackets and boarded two lifeboats after the ship began taking on water. They were plucked from 18-foot seas just before sunrise.

    Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said a fishing pier in the beach resort of Ocean City, not far from a popular boardwalk and amusement park, was "half-gone." The area had been ordered evacuated on Sunday.

    Water was already a foot deep on the streets of Lindenhurst, N.Y., along the southern edge of Long Island, and the canals around the island's Great South Bay were bulging two hours before high tide. Gale-force winds blew overnight over coastal North Carolina, southeastern Virginia, the Delmarva Peninsula and coastal New Jersey.

    Forecasters warned that New York City and Long Island could be on the dangerous northeastern edge of the tempest and bear the worst of the storm surge - a wall of seawater up to 11 feet high that could swamp lower Manhattan, flood subway tunnels and cripple the network of electrical and communications lines that are vital to the nation's financial center.

    The major American stock exchanges closed for the day, the first unplanned shutdown since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. The floor of the NYSE, typically bustling with traders on a Monday morning, fell within the city's mandatory evacuation zone. The United Nations canceled all meetings at its New York headquarters.

    New York called off school for the city's 1.1 million students, and the more than 5 million people who depend on its transit network every day were left without a way to get around. Most planned to stay inside anyway.

    "If you don't evacuate, you are not only endangering your life, you are also endangering the lives of the first responders who are going in to rescue you," Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned. "This is a serious and dangerous storm."

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tips on Preparing for the Megastorm

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was typically blunt: "Don't be stupid. Get out."

    The storm bore down barely a week before the presidential election. Wary of being seen as putting political pursuits ahead of public safety, Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney reshuffled their campaign plans.

    In Virginia, one of the most competitive states, election officials eased absentee voting requirements for those affected by the storm. Three other closely contested states, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio, were within Sandy's reach. Early voting was canceled Monday in Maryland and Washington, D.C., both reliably Democratic.

    After hooking inland, Sandy was expected to collide with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic. Forecasters said the combination could bring close to a foot of rain in places, a potentially lethal storm surge of 4 to 11 feet across much of the region, and punishing winds that could cause widespread power outages that last for days.

    Craig Fugate, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said FEMA teams were deployed from North Carolina to Maine and as far inland as West Virginia, bringing generators and basic supplies that will be needed in the storm's aftermath.

    "I have not been around long enough to see a hurricane forecast with a snow advisory in it," Fugate told NBC's "Today" show.

    Pennsylvania's largest utilities brought in hundreds of line-repair and tree-trimming crews. In New Jersey, where utilities were widely criticized last year for slow responses after the remnants of storms Irene and Lee, authorities promised a better performance. Hundreds of homes and businesses were already without electricity early Monday.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    Updated Monday, Oct. 29, 9:44 a.m.

    The floor of the New York Stock Exchange is empty of traders on Monday morning. (AP)

    NEW YORK (AP) - All major U.S. stock and options exchanges will remain closed Monday with Hurricane Sandy nearing landfall on the East Coast, the first unplanned shutdown since September 2001.

    There had been plans to allow electronic trading to go forward Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, but with all mass transit shut down in and out of the city, the risks were determined to be too great.

    The Nasdaq and the CME Group in Chicago will also close. CME Group's Nymex headquarters and New York trading floor are located in a mandatory evacuation zone in Manhattan. Its New York trading floor will be closed, but electronic markets were functioning.

    Benchmark oil for December delivery fell 61 cents to $85.67 a barrel.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live
    The New York Stock Exchange could remain closed Tuesday as well, depending on the severity of the storm. If that should occur, it would be the first time since 1888 that a weather-related event caused a two-day shutdown. The cause in 1888 was a blizzard that left drifts as high as 40 feet in the streets.

    On Monday, areas around the Financial District were part of a mandatory evacuation zone, with the storm surge from Sandy expected to push waters into portion of lower Manhattan.

    Dow Jones industrial futures slid 90 points to 12,955. The broader S&P futures gave up 10.3 points to 1,397.30. Nasdaq futures fell 22.50 points to 2,636.50.

    Some companies are also postponing quarterly earnings reports scheduled for release early this week. So far, that includes Pfizer Inc. and Thomson Reuters.

    Burger King reported on schedule, and said its third-quarter net income fell 83 percent as revenue was hurt by the stronger dollar. Adjusted results topped expectations, however.

    The Commerce Department reported that consumer spending increased 0.8 percent in September. That followed a 0.5 percent gain in August and was the best showing since February. Personal income rose 0.4 percent, an improvement from a slight 0.1 percent gain in August and the best gain since March.

    Consumer spending drives about 70 percent of the nation's economic activity.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast

     

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    Updated Monday, Oct. 29, 11:33 a.m.

    A woman takes a picture as water washes over the sea wall near high tide at Battery Park in New York on Monday. (AP)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Waves splashed over the sea walls at the southern tip of Manhattan, already at Hurricane Irene levels Monday hours before the worst of a mammoth storm was to hit the nation's largest city with a wall of water that could reach 11 feet.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed two key tunnels to downtown Manhattan after the city shut its mass transit system, stock exchanges, schools and Broadway and ordered hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes ahead of Hurricane Sandy's storm surge. While light rain fell steadily and New Yorkers still bustled on the streets, Cuomo warned residents to get out of the way.

    "Don't be fooled, don't look out the window and say, it doesn't look so bad," Cuomo said. "The worst is still coming."

    Cuomo said emergency boats were being moved downstate and the Brooklyn Battery and Holland Tunnels, both prone to flooding, would close at 2 p.m. The floor of the New York Stock Exchange was deserted in its first unplanned shutdown since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. More than 20,000 customers, mostly in Long Island, has lost power in the area by Monday morning, utility officials. Most of the city's 3,600 outages were in Brooklyn, officials said.


    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast

    On Monday, crowds gathered along the South Street Seaport, until police shooed them away. In Battery Park City, a complex of high-rise offices and apartment buildings erected on a landfill in lower Manhattan, holdouts watched as the Hudson rose and began to breach sections of scenic walkways along the river.

    Many people were still out jogging, walking their dogs and even taking infants out in strollers amid gusts of wind.

    Mark Vial pushed a stroller holding his 2-year-old daughter Maziyar toward the door of a building where they live on 15th floor.

    "We're high up enough, so I'm not worried about flooding," he said. "There's plenty of food. We'll be ok."

    Vial, 35, said his building had several holdouts. "The laundry room was packed last night," he said.

    Some New Yorkers packed grocery stores for water and food and scrambled to get out of flood zones, while others insisted they weren't going anywhere.

    Others heeded warnings. Clutching a white pillow in her left hand and two computers in another, Alyssa Marks rushed to get to the subway before it stopped running Sunday evening. She'd gotten cash but had no time to get toiletries and water.


    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live

    "I'm nervous, but I'm also excited," she said as she left her apartment in a lower Manhattan evacuation zone for a friend's place on higher ground.

    Warnings about the superstorm - a predicted combination of Sandy, a wintry system moving in from the West and cold air streaming down from the Arctic - took on a much more ominous tone Sunday.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's environmental protection chief, Louis Uccellini, called the projected storm surge "the worst-case scenario" for New York City, Long Island and northern New Jersey.

    It threatened to swamp parts of lower Manhattan, flood subway tunnels and knock out the underground network of power, phone and high-speed Internet lines that are the lifeblood of America's financial capital.

    The major American stock exchanges closed for the day, the first unplanned shutdown since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. The floor of the NYSE, typically bustling with traders on a Monday morning, fell within the city's mandatory evacuation zone. The United Nations canceled all meetings at its New York headquarters. New York called off school for the city's 1.1 million students.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tips on Preparing for the Megastorm

    The NYSE's parent company said late Sunday that the shutdown might be extended through Tuesday "pending confirmation," according to exchange operator NYSE Euronext.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday announced a mandatory evacuation affecting 375,000 people in low-lying areas from the beaches of Queens to Battery Park City. Subways and buses were shut down Sunday night, leaving more than 5 million mostly carless daily riders on their own to get to higher ground.

    Cuomo deployed National Guard troops to the city and Long Island. Consolidated Edison weighed the possibility of shutting down power in parts of lower Manhattan to protect equipment. Broadway shows were canceled for Sunday and Monday. One small hospital was being evacuated, while several others were moving patients to higher floors.

    It marked the second time in 14 months that New York City has faced a scenario forecasters have long feared: a big hurricane hitting the city or a bit south, such that the cyclone's counterclockwise winds drive water into miles of densely populated shoreline.

    Hurricane Irene ultimately came ashore as a tropical storm in Coney Island, with a 4-foot storm surge that washed over parts of the southern tip of Manhattan but didn't wreak the havoc that officials had feared, although it caused tremendous damage elsewhere. Some experts have said that a surge 3 feet higher could have caused huge damage.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast

     

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    Updated Monday, Oct. 29, 11:42 a.m.

    A Office of Emergency Management staff member posts a shelter sign outside a designated Red Cross shelter, in Philadelphia on Sunday. (AP)

    Hurricane Sandy is churning off the East Coast and is expected to join up with two other weather systems to create a huge and problematic storm affecting 50 million people. Here's a snapshot of what is happening or expected, state by state.

    CAROLINAS

    The storm lashed barrier islands off North Carolina and rendered several homes and businesses nearly inaccessible. About 90 miles off the coast, a tall ship carrying 17 people was in distress; the Coast Guard was monitoring.

    CONNECTICUT

    The number of power outages increased quickly in a state where utilities' response to past weather-related failures has become a political issue. Connecticut Light & Power says hundreds of customers are without power. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked a task force to ensure fuel suppliers are fully stocked. Many residents along Long Island Sound heeded warnings and evacuated.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast
    DELAWARE

    Dover Air Force Base has relocated some aircraft in anticipation of the storm, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has requested that the base be used as a staging area for support and supplies. Some residents of low-lying areas of the base have been ordered to evacuate.

    KENTUCKY

    Sandy is expected to bring snow to far southeastern Kentucky. A winter storm warning is in effect in Harlan, Letcher and Pike counties through Wednesday morning. Forecasters say snow could accumulate from 4 to 10 inches in high elevations and 1 to 3 inches in lower elevations.

    MAINE

    Virtually all Maine public schools opened Monday but some were closing early before the heaviest rain and wind from Hurricane Sandy. State officials say the biggest concern is wind, which is expected to cause widespread power outages. The state's utilities say they have crews poised to deal with expected power outages, including some from Canada.

    MARYLAND

    Baltimore is opening six shelters; several city intersections are closed because of flooding threats. Early voting, which began Saturday and was to run through Thursday, was canceled for Monday.

    MASSACHUSETTS

    The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is shutting down all service at 2 p.m. Monday due to expected high winds from Sandy. Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey said the order affects all subway, bus and commuter rail service.

    NEW HAMPSHIRE

    Gov. John Lynch declared a state of emergency Monday morning, giving him extra authority to deal with the storm. It also gives the state the opportunity to apply for federal disaster relief. Earlier, Lynch put 100 New Hampshire Guard soldiers on active duty, and utilities secured crews from Canada and a number of states.

    NEW JERSEY

    Atlantic City's public safety director said most of the city is flooded. Willie Glass said the damage will likely be worse than the storm of 1962. Fire officials in Pleasantville report at least two rescues from homes surrounded by water.

    NEW YORK

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and Holland Tunnel will close at 2 p.m. Monday. Officials said the already were seeing water levels that mirrored Hurricane Irene a year earlier. The governor said emergency boats were being moved downstate.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live
    OHIO

    Residents of low-lying areas and along Lake Erie were told to watch for flooding; utilities are anticipating high winds that could blow down trees and poles. Snow is forecast in some areas.

    PENNSYLVANIA

    Many schools closed. Philadelphia shut down its mass transit system, and hundreds of flights were canceled at the city's airport. Dozens of people took shelter at evacuation centers. Thousands of members of the National Guard have been told to be ready for deployment.

    RHODE ISLAND

    Several communities have ordered mandatory evacuations and many schools closed for the day. Big waves are expected to cause flooding along Narragansett Bay, which bisects the state. Authorities told people to be prepared for long periods without power.

    TENNESSEE

    Snow is expected in higher elevations, where a freeze warning has been issued. High winds are expected in many areas.

    VIRGINIA

    About 2,000 customers lacked power, and a utility said as many as 1 million could ultimately lose electricity. Many residents of Chincoteague Island, popular with tourists, shrugged off the idea of evacuation.

    VERMONT

    Gov. Peter Shumlin declared a state of emergency to provide access to National Guard troops in a state still recovering from the devastating effects of the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Culverts and storm drainage basins in some spots have been cleared of debris.

    WASHINGTON, D.C.

    The capital area's transit system shut down rail service for the first time since 2003, and the Smithsonian Institution closed for the day.

    WEST VIRGINIA

    As much as 2 to 3 feet of snow was forecast in mountainous areas, and flooding was possible in some areas. Several shelters were put on standby, and power crews were mobilized to handle potential failures.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast

     

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    Updated Monday, Oct. 29, 9:40 a.m.

    President Barack Obama speaks at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, on Sunday. (AP)

    ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A strengthening Hurricane Sandy disrupted the campaign for the White House Monday, with President Obama rushing out of battleground Florida to get Air Force One safely back to Washington and monitor the storm.

    Republican nominee Mitt Romney was campaigning in the Midwest Monday out of the storm's path, but called off events scheduled in Virginia Sunday and New Hampshire Tuesday. He told supporters in the storm's path to bring in their yard signs so they don't damage property.

    Obama, mindful of his need to show command in crisis while in the final throes of a tough re-election campaign, met with federal emergency officials Sunday before flying to Florida that night ahead of a rally scheduled for Monday at noon. But the intensifying storm heading to the East Coast took priority, with the president signing emergency declarations for New England states in the middle of the night from his Orlando hotel room.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast
    By dawn the White House decided to call off the politicking.

    "Due to deteriorating weather conditions in the Washington area, the president will not attend today's campaign event in Orlando," spokesman Jay Carney said in a written statement. "The president will return to the White House to monitor the preparations for and early response to Hurricane Sandy."

    About an hour after the statement went out, Obama slipped into his black armored limousine and his motorcade sped toward the airport under sunny Florida skies. The president jogged up the steps, and Air Force One quickly lifted off for the two-hour flight to Washington.

    Obama's aides considered moving the Orlando event even earlier Monday morning but were told that would put Air Force One back too late to land safely. Nearly all commercial flights had already been canceled in the Washington area as heavy rains soaked the capital ahead of Sandy's expected landfall Monday night.

    With eight days before Election Day, neither campaign could afford to fully shut down its political activity in a race that remains tight. Four critical election states are affected by the storm - North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire - but there was still unthreatened ground to cover across the rest of the country.

    Romney was scheduled Monday to campaign in the perennial battlegrounds of Ohio and Iowa. He also was visiting Wisconsin, trying to force Obama to play defense in a state where the president has been leading in the polls despite the addition of native son Paul Ryan on the GOP ticket.

    "I know that right now some people in the country are a little nervous about a storm about to hit the coast, and our thoughts and prayers are with people who will find themselves in harm's way," Romney told supporters in Ohio on Sunday.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live
    Former President Bill Clinton still planned to appear before voters at the Orlando rally. Later Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden were appearing together in Youngstown, Ohio. Biden was originally supposed to campaign in New Hampshire Monday, but diverted to Ohio to replace Obama after the president canceled his appearance to stick to Washington.

    But the abrupt cancellation meant Obama's trip to Florida was essentially a waste. The campaign bumped up the rally by two hours and rescheduled his flight to Orlando from Monday morning to Sunday night to get ahead of the storm.

    The president made an unannounced stop at a campaign office Sunday night, where he told supporters the storm meant he wouldn't be able to campaign as much over the next few days.

    "You guys need to carry the ball," he told the volunteers.

    Polls suggest Obama has an advantage in reaching the required 270 Electoral College votes. But Romney's campaign is projecting momentum and considering trying to expand the playing field beyond the nine states that have garnered the bulk of the candidates' attention.

    A senior Republican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to disclose private deliberations, said Romney's team was discussing sending the GOP nominee, Ryan or both to traditionally left-leaning Minnesota during the campaign's final week.

    Obama was briefed Sunday on the government's response at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and spoke by phone to affected governors and mayors.

    "Anything they need, we will be there," Obama said. "And we are going to cut through red tape. We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules. We want to make sure that we are anticipating and leaning forward."

    RELATED ON SKYE: A State-by-State Look at the Superstorm

    Obama has declared emergencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, authorizing federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts.

    During the GOP primaries, Romney suggested the responsibility of responding to natural disasters should be stripped from FEMA and delegated to the states or private businesses.

    "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that's even better," Romney said during a Republican debate broadcast on CNN.

    Earlier this year his running mate Ryan, the chairman of the House budget committee, tried to eliminate $10 billion a year in federal disaster aid. Under Ryan's failed proposal, when emergencies arise, Congress would pay for the disaster costs by cutting the federal budget elsewhere.

    The president's campaign said it was using its presence on social media to urge supporters to donate to the Red Cross for storm relief efforts. And the campaign said it would stop sending fundraising emails on Monday to people living in areas in the storm's path.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tips on Preparing for the Megastorm

    Romney staffers across Virginia plan to collect supplies to deliver to local storm-relief centers after the hurricane hits. And one of Romney's campaign buses was to be used for relief efforts throughout the East Coast, the Republican National Committee said.

    The storm was hitting as millions of Americans were already voting. Early voting has been a particular focus for Obama's campaign, which is banking on its massive get-out-the-vote operation to build up advantages ahead of Election Day.

    Obama advisers said they didn't expect earlier voting to be significantly affected in any of the competitive states in the storm's path.

    A small percentage of voters cast their ballots early in New Hampshire and Virginia. Obama's campaign was encouraging voters in Virginia, however, to take advantage of the state's decision to ease early voting restrictions because of the storm.

    But early voting is robust in Ohio and North Carolina. Obama advisers said they were confident they had built up solid totals in the states before the storm that would serve as firewalls if the storm does keep other supporters from casting their votes.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Kicks Up Waves, Threatens Coast

     

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    The tall ship HMS Bounty sails on Lake Erie off Cleveland in this July 7, 2010 photo. (AP)

    ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) - A replica tall ship caught in Hurricane Sandy's wrath began taking on water, forcing the crew to abandon the boat in rough seas off the North Carolina coast. The Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members by helicopter Monday but two people were still missing.

    The HMS Bounty, which has been featured in Hollywood films such as "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," had left Connecticut last week, en route to St. Petersburg, Fla.

    "They were staying in constant contact with the National Hurricane Center," said Tracie Simonin, the director of the HMS Bounty Organization. "They were trying to make it around the storm."

    The Coast Guard initially received a call from the owner of the 180-foot, three-mast ship late Sunday evening, saying communication had been lost with the vessel's crew. The Coast Guard in Portsmouth, Va., later received an emergency distress call from the Bounty, confirming its position.

    Coast Guard Vice Adm. Robert Parker, Operational Commander for the Atlantic Area, told ABC's "Good Morning America" that at the time of the distress call, the ship was taking on two feet of water an hour. It had about 10 feet of water when the crew abandoned the ship.

    Most of the crew made it into canopied, 25-foot rubber life rafts, he said. Amid winds of 40 mph and 18-foot seas, two helicopters flew in for the rescue about 6:30 a.m. Monday, plucking crew members from the life boats.

    The first helicopter rescued nine people and the second picked up five crew members a short time later about 90 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill said.

    Those rescued were being taken to Air Station Elizabeth City on the North Carolina coast. Hill had no immediate word on their conditions.

    The ship left Connecticut on Thursday when Sandy was over Cuba, and its path and effect on the East Coast was still somewhat certain. Sandy was forecast to be several hundred miles off the Carolinas coast and the Outer Banks were not in the cone of uncertainty.

    Days before it sank, the vessel had rerouted to avoid the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. However, a statement on its website acknowledged, "this will be a tough voyage for Bounty," the Tampa Bay Times reported.

    The ship was built for the 1962 film "Mutiny on the Bounty," which starred Marlin Brando, and has been featured in other movies.

    The HMS Bounty has docked off and on over the years at The Pier in St. Petersburg, Fla., and was scheduled to eventually arrive there in November, said Carol Everson, general manager of The Pier.

    "I know they were very much looking forward to being here," she said. "They were very excited about coming down."

    The Bounty's captain, Robin Walbridge, was from St. Petersburg, she said.

    She and other employees of The Pier were closely following the story.

    "It's devastating," she said. "Obviously you want all of the crew to be safe. It's a shame that the vessel has gone down because it's a tremendous piece of history and a great piece of history for St. Petersburg."

    Wallbridge learned to sail at age 10, according to his biography on the Bounty's website. Prior to the Bounty, he served as first mate on the H.M.S. Rose - the Bounty's sister ship.

    The ship was permanently docked in St. Petersburg for many decades. In 1986, it was bought by Ted Turner, and in 2001, it was purchased by its current owner, New York businessman named Robert Hansen.

    About 10 years ago, the ship underwent a multi-million dollar restoration.

    In recent years, the ship has wintered in Puerto Rico and travels in the spring and summer. In August, large crowds greeted the ship when it sailed into St. Augustine, Fla., Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C.

     

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    Updated Tuesday, Oct. 30 6:49 a.m. ET

    Workers walk in front of a large square building that houses the nuclear reactor at the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Lacey Township, N.J., on Feb. 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - Part of a nuclear power plant was shut down while another plant - the oldest in the U.S. - was put on alert after waters from superstorm Sandy rose six feet above sea level.

    Conditions were still safe all U.S. nuclear plants, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees plant safety.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    One of the units at Indian Point, a plant about 45 miles north of New York City, was shut down around 10:45 p.m. Monday because of external electrical grid issues, said Entergy Corp., which operates the plant. The company said there was no risk to employees or the public, and the plant was not at risk due to water levels from the Hudson River, which reached 9 feet 8 inches and was subsiding. Another unit at the plant was still operating at full power.

    The oldest U.S. nuclear power plant, New Jersey's Oyster Creek, was already out of service for scheduled refueling. But high water levels at the facility, which sits along Barnegat Bay, prompted safety officials to declare an "unusual event" around 7 p.m. About two hours later, the situation was upgraded to an "alert," the second-lowest in a four-tiered warning system.

    A rising tide, the direction of the wind and the storm's surge combined to raise water levels in Oyster Creek's intake structure, the NRC said. The agency said that water levels are expected to recede within hours and that the plant, which went online in 1969 and is set to close in 2019, is watertight and capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds.

    In other parts of the East Coast, nuclear plants were weathering the storm without incident.

    Nuclear power plants are built to withstand hurricanes, airplane collisions and other major disasters, but safety procedures call for plants to be shut down when hurricane-force winds are present, or if water levels nearby exceed certain flood limits.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Massive NYC Transformer Explosion

    Inspectors from the NRC, whose own headquarters and Northeast regional office were closed for the storm, were manning all plants around the clock. The agency dispatched extra inspectors or placed them on standby in five states, equipped with satellite phones.

    "Our top concern is ensuring that the plants are in a safe condition, that they are following their severe weather procedures," said Diane Screnci of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

    Although nuclear plants are built for resilience, their operations get more complicated when only emergency personnel are on duty or if external electricity gets knocked out, as often happens during hurricanes.

    "When external power is not available, you have to use standby generators," said Sudarshan Loyalka, who teaches nuclear engineering at University of Missouri. "You just don't want to rely on backup power."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Slams East Coast

     

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    Updated Tuesday, Oct. 30, 11:43 p.m. ET

    A street sign is partially buried in sand Tuesday morning, Oct. 30, in Cape May, N.J., after a storm surge from Sandy pushed the Atlantic Ocean over the beach and across Beach Avenue. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    PITTSBURGH (AP) - The most devastating storm in decades to hit the country's most densely populated region upended man and nature as it rolled back the clock on 21st-century lives, cutting off modern communication and leaving millions without power Tuesday as thousands who fled their water-menaced homes wondered when - if - life would return to normal.

    A weakening Sandy, the hurricane turned fearsome superstorm, killed at least 50 people, many hit by falling trees, and still wasn't finished. It inched inland across Pennsylvania, ready to bank toward western New York to dump more of its water and likely cause more havoc Tuesday night. Behind it: a dazed, inundated New York City, a waterlogged Atlantic Coast and a moonscape of disarray and debris - from unmoored shore-town boardwalks to submerged mass-transit systems to delicate presidential politics.

    "Nature," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, assessing the damage to his city, "is an awful lot more powerful than we are."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    More than 8.2 million households were without power in 17 states as far west as Michigan. Nearly 2 million of those were in New York, where large swaths of lower Manhattan lost electricity and entire streets ended up underwater - as did seven subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn at one point, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.

    The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day from weather, the first time that has happened since a blizzard in 1888. The shutdown of mass transit crippled a city where more than 8.3 million bus, subway and local rail trips are taken each day, and 800,000 vehicles cross bridges run by the transit agency.

    Consolidated Edison said electricity in and around New York could take a week to restore.

    "Everybody knew it was coming. Unfortunately, it was everything they said it was," said Sal Novello, a construction executive who rode out the storm with his wife, Lori, in the Long Island town of Lindenhurst, and ended up with 7 feet of water in the basement.

    The scope of the storm's damage wasn't known yet. Though early predictions of river flooding in Sandy's inland path were petering out, colder temperatures made snow the main product of Sandy's slow march from the sea. Parts of the West Virginia mountains were blanketed with 2 feet of snow by Tuesday afternoon, and drifts 4 feet deep were reported at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

    With Election Day a week away, the storm also threatened to affect the presidential campaign. Federal disaster response, always a dicey political issue, has become even thornier since government mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And poll access and voter turnout, both of which hinge upon how people are impacted by the storm, could help shift the outcome in an extremely close race.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live
    As organized civilization came roaring back Tuesday in the form of emergency response, recharged cellphones and the reassurance of daylight, harrowing stories and pastiches emerged from Maryland north to Rhode Island in the hours after Sandy's howling winds and tidal surges shoved water over seaside barriers, into low-lying streets and up from coastal storm drains.

    Images from around the storm-affected areas depicted scenes reminiscent of big-budget disaster movies. In Atlantic City, N.J., a gaping hole remained where once a stretch of boardwalk sat by the sea. In Queens, N.Y., rubble from a fire that destroyed as many as 100 houses in an evacuated beachfront neighborhood jutted into the air at ugly angles against a gray sky. In heavily flooded Hoboken, N.J., across the Hudson River from Manhattan, dozens of yellow cabs sat parked in rows, submerged in murky water to their windshields. At the ground zero construction site in lower Manhattan, seawater rushed into a gaping hole under harsh floodlights.

    One of the most dramatic tales came from lower Manhattan, where a failed backup generator forced New York University's Langone Medical Center to relocate more than 200 patients, including 20 babies from neonatal intensive care. Dozens of ambulances lined up in the rainy night and the tiny patients were gingerly moved out, some attached to battery-powered respirators as gusts of wind blew their blankets.

    In Moonachie, N.J., 10 miles north of Manhattan, water rose to 5 feet within 45 minutes and trapped residents who thought the worst of the storm had passed. Mobile-home park resident Juan Allen said water overflowed a 2-foot wall along a nearby creek, filling the area with 2 to 3 feet of water within 15 minutes. "I saw trees not just knocked down but ripped right out of the ground," he said. "I watched a tree crush a guy's house like a wet sponge."

    In a measure of its massive size, waves on southern Lake Michigan rose to a record-tying 20.3 feet. High winds spinning off Sandy's edges clobbered the Cleveland area early Tuesday, uprooting trees, closing schools and flooding major roads along Lake Erie.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Facade of NYC Building Collapses During Superstorm

    Most along the East Coast, though, grappled with an experience like Bertha Weismann of Bridgeport, Conn.- frightening, inconvenient and financially problematic but, overall, endurable. Her garage was flooded and she lost power, but she was grateful. "I feel like we are blessed," she said. "It could have been worse."

    The presidential candidates' campaign maneuverings Tuesday revealed the delicacy of the need to look presidential in a crisis without appearing to capitalize on a disaster. President Barack Obama canceled a third straight day of campaigning, scratching events scheduled for Wednesday in swing-state Ohio, in Sandy's path. Republican Mitt Romney resumed his campaign with plans for an Ohio rally billed as a "storm relief event."

    And the weather posed challenges a week out for how to get everyone out to vote. On the hard-hit New Jersey coastline, a county elections chief said some polling places on barrier islands will be unusable and have to be moved.

    "This is the biggest challenge we've ever had," said George R. Gilmore, chairman of the Ocean County Board of Elections.

    By Tuesday afternoon, there were still only hints of the economic impact of the storm.

    Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicted the storm will end up causing about $20 billion in damages and $10 billion to $30 billion in lost business. Another firm, AIR Worldwide, estimated losses up to $15 billion - big numbers probably offset by reconstruction and repairs that will contribute to longer-term growth.

    "The biggest problem is not the first few days but the coming months," said Alan Rubin, an expert in nature disaster recovery.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tidal Surge Overruns Two NJ Towns with Floodwaters

    Airports were shut across the East Coast and far beyond as tens of thousands of travelers found they couldn't get where they were going. John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark International Airport in New Jersey will reopen at 7 a.m. Wednesday with limited service, but LaGuardia Airport will stay closed, officials said.

    Sandy began in the Atlantic and knocked around the Caribbean - killing nearly 70 people - and strengthened into a hurricane as it chugged across the southeastern coast of the United States. By Tuesday night it had ebbed in strength but was joining up with another, more wintry storm - an expected confluence of weather systems that earned it nicknames like "superstorm" and, on Halloween eve, "Frankenstorm."

    It became, pretty much everyone agreed Tuesday, the weather event of a lifetime - and one shared vigorously on social media by people in Sandy's path who took eye-popping photographs as the storm blew through, then shared them with the world by the blue light of their smartphones.

    On Twitter, Facebook and the photo-sharing service Instagram, people tried to connect, reassure relatives and make sense of what was happening - and, in many cases, work to authenticate reports of destruction and storm surges. They posted and passed around images and real-time updates at a dizzying rate, wishing each other well and gaping, virtually, at scenes of calamity moments after they unfolded. Among the top terms on Facebook through the night and well into Tuesday, according to the social network: "we are OK," ''made it" and "fine."

    By Tuesday evening, the remnants of Sandy were about 50 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, pushing westward with winds of 45 mph. It was expected to turn toward New York State and Canada during the night.

    Although weakening as it goes, the storm will continue to bring heavy rain and flooding, said Daniel Brown of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

    Atlantic City's fabled Boardwalk, the first in the nation, lost several blocks when Sandy came through, though the majority of it remained intact even as other Jersey Shore boardwalks were dismantled. What damage could be seen on the coastline Tuesday was, in some locations, staggering - "unthinkable," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said of what unfolded along the Jersey Shore, where houses were swept from their foundations and amusement park rides were washed into the ocean. "Beyond anything I thought I would ever see."

    Resident Carol Mason returned to her bayfront home to carpets that squished as she stepped on them. She made her final mortgage payment just last week. Facing a mandatory evacuation order, she had tried to ride out the storm at first but then saw the waters rising outside her bathroom window and quickly reconsidered.

    "I looked at the bay and saw the fury in it," she said. "I knew it was time to go."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast

     

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    Updated Tuesday, Oct. 30, 10:29 p.m. ET

    People take photos of water filling the Bowling Green subway station in Battery Park in New York on Tuesday. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Stripped of its bustle and mostly cut off from the world, New York was left wondering Tuesday when its particular way of life - carried by subway, lit by skyline and powered by 24-hour deli - would return.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the power company said it could be the weekend before the lights come on for hundreds of thousands of people plunged into darkness by what was once Hurricane Sandy.

    Bloomberg said it could also be four or five days before the subway, which suffered the worst damage in its 108-year history, is running again. All 10 of the tunnels that carry New Yorkers under the East River were flooded.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    In one bit of good news, officials announced that John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark International Airport in New Jersey will reopen at 7 a.m. Wednesday with limited service. New York's LaGuardia Airport remains closed.

    Sandy killed 18 people in New York City, the mayor said. The dead included two who drowned in a home and one who was in bed when a tree fell on an apartment. A 23-year-old woman died after stepping into a puddle near a live electrical wire.

    "This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," Bloomberg said.

    For the 8 million people who live here, the city was a different place one day after the storm.

    In normal times, rituals bring a sense of order to the chaos of life in the nation's largest city: Stop at Starbucks on the morning walk with the dog, drop the kids off at P.S. 39, grab a bagel.

    On Tuesday, those rituals were suspended, with little indication when they would come back. Schools were shut for a second day and were closed Wednesday, too.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live
    Coffee shops, normally open as close as a block apart, were closed in some neighborhoods. New York found itself less caffeinated and curiously isolated from the world, although by afternoon it had begun to struggle back to life.

    Some bridges into the city reopened at midday, but the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan, and the Holland Tunnel, between New York and New Jersey, remained closed. And service on the three commuter railroads that run between the city and its suburbs was still suspended.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo said bus service would be restored at 5 p.m. EDT, on a limited schedule but free. He said he hoped there would be full service on Wednesday, also free.

    The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day, the first time that has happened because of weather since the 19th century, but said it would reopen on Wednesday.

    Swaths of the city were not so lucky. Consolidated Edison, the power company, said it would be four days before the last of the 337,000 customers in Manhattan and Brooklyn who lost power have electricity again.

    For the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Westchester County, with 442,000 outages, it could take a week, Con Ed said. Floodwater led to explosions that disabled a power substation on Monday night, contributing to the outages.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Facade of NYC Building Collapses During Superstorm

    New Yorkers were left without power to charge their iPods and Kindles and Nooks for the subway. Not that there was a subway. People clustered around electrical outlets at a Duane Reade drugstore to power up their phones.

    At a small market called Hudson Gourmet, in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, cashiers made change by candlelight and shoppers used flashlights to scour the shelves.

    Lee Leshen used the light from his phone to make his selections - three boxes of linguine and a can of tomatoes. His power was out, but the gas in his stove worked, so he could cook. He said he almost never cooks but is learning.

    John Tricoli, his wife, Christine, and their 6-year-old twins spent Monday night holed up in their 11th-floor apartment in one of several lower Manhattan office buildings that were converted to condos in the 2000s and have drawn young families. Once the power went off at 7 p.m., there was a major challenge - no TV.

    By candlelight, "we colored, we read, we played games - old school," Christine Tricoli said as the family emerged to go on a walk on Tuesday that started with a trek down 11 flights of stairs.

    "There was even talking," she said.

    The city modified its taxi rules and encouraged drivers to pick up more than one passenger at a time, putting New Yorkers in the otherwise unthinkable position of having to share a yellow cab with a stranger.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Video from Inside Flooded NYC Subway Station

    Livery cabs and black sedans, normally allowed to pick up passengers only by arrangement, were allowed to stop for people hailing rides on the street.

    The landscape of the city changed in a matter of hours.

    A fire destroyed as many as 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood in Queens. Firefighters said the water was chest-high on the street and they had to use a boat to make rescues.

    In Brooklyn, Faye Schwartz surveyed the damage in her Brooklyn neighborhood, where cars were strewn like leaves, planters were deposited in intersections and green Dumpsters were tossed on their sides.

    "Oh, Jesus. Oh, no," she said.

    The chief line of demarcation Tuesday ran through Manhattan's Chelsea section. Above 25th Street, delis did business and traffic lights worked. Below 25th Street, nothing.

    For some New Yorkers, the aftermath of the storm stirred memories of the blackout of August 2003, when a cascading power failure in the Northeast left the city without power for parts of two days. This time, as then, there was no sign of looting or widespread crime. Nine people in all were arrested on charges they stole from a gas station, an electronics store and a clothing store in Queens.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Massive NYC Transformer Explosion

    But the 2003 blackout was a communal experience, with strangers lounging on stoops and bars blaring music into darkened neighborhoods. This time, people had to stay indoors and wait.

    At a darkened luxury high-rise building in lower Manhattan, resident manager John Sarich was sending porters with flashlights up and down 47 flights of stairs to check on people who live there.

    He said most people stayed put despite calls to evacuate. One pregnant woman started having contractions, and Sarich said that before the power went out, he nervously researched online how to deliver a baby.

    "I said, 'Oh boy, I'm in trouble,'" Sarich said. The woman managed to find a cab to take her to a hospital.

    Bloomberg told reporters that the storm deaths were tragic but said the city pulled through better than some people expected, considering the magnitude of the storm.

    The mayor said: "We will get through the days ahead by doing what we always do in tough times - by standing together, shoulder to shoulder, ready to help a neighbor, comfort a stranger and get the city we love back on its feet."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast

     

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    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The storm that was Sandy isn't done just yet.

    After lashing coastal cities and inundating parts of New York City with 13 feet of water, the core of the hybrid storm is beginning a long slog across Pennsylvania and upstate New York, with its effects spreading as far west as Wisconsin and Illinois.

    The big storm, which has caused wind warnings from Chicago to Maine and Canada to Florida, will continue to be a problem for a couple more days with heavy rainfall, snow and local flooding.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    "This is going to be an event that for a period of time is going to alter the way we do things," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Monday, warning residents of his state they would not escape with just a glancing blow.

    By midnight, what's left of Sandy was near Philadelphia and was forecast to spend most of Tuesday heading across Pennsylvania and then take a sharp turn Wednesday into western New York, weakening as it moved, said Daniel Brown, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center.

    The once-tropical system has merged with a wintry cold front and is likely to produce heavy rain in the East for the next two or three days - adding up to more flooding, Brown said.

    Coastal storm surge will likely continue to be elevated Tuesday, especially with morning high tides, but they may be at levels a foot to a couple of feet less than Monday night's peak, Brown said. On the coast, gale-force winds will continue and subside eventually Tuesday evening, but inland they should subside by midday.

    In parts of the mid-Atlantic region, particulary higher elevations, several more inches of snow was predicted Tuesday in addition to what fell the night before.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Massive NYC Transformer Explosion

    On the western shore of Lake Michigan, large waves were a concern. The Village of Pleasant Prairie, Wis., urged residents to evacuate in anticipation of waves as high as 18 feet. In Chicago, emergency officials asked residents and utility crews to be prepared for winds forecast at 50 mph and waves as high as 25 feet.

    In upstate New York, automated calls warned about 13,000 Rochester-area residents who live near Lake Ontario to watch out for waves of 8 to 10 feet overnight. Emergency officials in neighboring Wayne County also suggested that shoreline homeowners evacuate.

    The National Weather Service warned of hurricane-force winds with gusts up to 80 mph in New York City and surrounding counties until Tuesday evening.
    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast

     

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    Updated Tuesday, Oct. 30, 11:17 a.m. ET

    Travelers on Delta Airlines look at a departure screen on Monday in Detroit. (AP)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Superstorm Sandy grounded more than 15,000 flights across the Northeast and the globe, and it could be days before some passengers can get where they're going.

    According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, more than 6,000 flights were canceled on Tuesday. That brings the tally of flights canceled because of the storm to more than 15,000. By early Tuesday morning, more than 500 flights scheduled for Wednesday also were canceled.

    The three big New York airports were closed on Tuesday by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Stewart International Airport remained open, but airlines had suspended operations there.

    New York has the nation's busiest airspace, with about one-quarter of all U.S. flights traveling to or from there each day. So cancelations here can dramatically impact travel in other cities.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    Delays rippled across the U.S., affecting travelers in cities from San Francisco to Atlanta. Others attempting to fly out of Europe and Asia also were stuck.

    Narita, the international airport near Tokyo, canceled 11 flights Tuesday - nine to the New York area and two to Washington, D.C. All Nippon Airways set up a special counter at Narita to deal with passengers whose flights had been canceled.

    Hurricane Sandy converged with a cold-weather system and made landfall over New Jersey on Monday evening with 80 mph winds. The monstrous hybrid of rain and high wind - and even snow in some mountainous inland areas - killed at least 16 people in seven states, cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio, caused scares at two nuclear power plants and stopped the presidential campaign cold.

    The storm was forecast to head across Pennsylvania before taking another sharp turn into western New York by Wednesday morning, bringing heavy rain and local flooding.

    The flight cancelations surpassed those of a major winter storm in early 2011 that forced 14,000 flights to be scrapped over four days.

    Even if storm damage is minor it could be a week before operations are normal at major East Coast airports, said Angela Gittens, director general of the Airports Council International, a trade group for airports worldwide.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live
    "The storm has such a wide swath and so many major airports are involved that it's going to take some time (to recover) because those airplanes are so far away," said Gittens, who served as aviation director at Miami International Airport Dade during several hurricanes from 2001 to 2004.

    JetBlue Airways Corp. canceled 1,200 flights for Sunday through Tuesday. The airline is hoping to resume flights at its Kennedy airport hub Wednesday, but is worried about flooding of the airport's runways since they are all basically at sea level and near bodies of water, according to Rob Maruster, the company's chief operating officer.

    Delta Air Lines Inc. has canceled 2,100 flights over the three days. American Airlines has scrapped 1,000 flights, including 260 on regional affiliate American Eagle.

    The impact on airline's bottom lines is unclear. Many of the customers on flights currently being canceled will reschedule later on, so the airlines will still collect the fares.

    Travelers overseas could wait days to get to the East Coast of the U.S.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Facade of NYC Building Collapses During Superstorm

    Frankfurt airport canceled 12 incoming and nine outgoing flights because of the storm, adding to 12 it scrapped on Monday. Spain's biggest airports in Madrid and Barcelona axed 19 flights, on top of 13 canceled the day before.

    British Airways cut another 11 return flights to and from the East Coast on Tuesday, adding to 20 on Monday, when London's Heathrow airport canceled a total of 59 flights to and from the U.S.

    Air India said its daily flights to Newark and JFK had been halted since Sunday.

    South Korea's Korean Air said it canceled three flights to New York and one flight to Washington on Monday and Tuesday. Asiana Airlines canceled its Tuesday flight to New York. Its Monday flight to JFK was delayed by 26 hours, then was postponed again by another 26 hours.

    Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways had canceled six New York flights by Tuesday. The airline said another New York flight via Vancouver will only go as far as the Canadian city.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast

     

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    Updated Tuesday, Oct. 30, 12:54 p.m. ET

    An ambulance is stuck in over a foot of snow off of Highway 33 West, near Belington, W.Va. on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Robert Ray)

    ELKINS, W.Va. (AP) - Wet snow and high winds spinning off the edge of superstorm Sandy spread blizzard conditions over parts of West Virginia and neighboring Appalachian states Tuesday, shutting one interstate as trucks and cars bogged down and knocking out power to many.

    The National Weather Service said a foot and more of snow was reported in lower elevations of West Virginia, where most towns and roads are. High elevations in the mountains were getting more than two feet and a blizzard warning for more than a dozen counties was in effect until Wednesday afternoon.

    At least 236,000 customers were without power in West Virginia early Tuesday. In Elkins, a city of about 7,000 people, power went out across town before dawn and the only lights were from passing snow plows as heavy, wet flakes piled up to about 8 inches.

    The roofs of at least three homes collapsed under the weight of heavy snow, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said. No injuries were reported in the Tuesday accidents in Nicholas County. West Virginia National Guard troops helped the residents of the homes get to local shelters.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    Tomblin says there's been no word of additional deaths or any serious injuries. Officials earlier reported a woman was killed Monday in a storm-related traffic accident in an area where about 5 inches of snow had fallen.

    The governor is urging residents to stay off the roads. That will prevent mishaps and allow National Guard, Division of Highways and Division of Forestry crews to clear felled trees for utility repair workers.

    Tomblin says forecasters estimate that the storm's brunt should clear the state by nightfall.

    Authorities closed nearly 50 miles of Interstate 68 on either side of the West Virginia-Maryland state line for hours early Tuesday because of blizzard conditions and stuck vehicles.

    More than 30 other highways and roads were closed in West Virginia by snow, ice, high water, and downed trees and power lines. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Leslie Fitzwater said. Schools were closed in at least 39 counties.

    "It's a mess out there and people should stay home if they can until our first responders can get out there, clear the roads and get to those who need the most assistance," Fitzwater said.

    On the Maryland side of I-68, crews were trying to remove several tractor-trailers stuck on the highway. Four or five passenger vehicles also were abandoned in the median, State Highway Administration spokeswoman Kelly Boulware said.

    The higher elevations in western parts of Maryland received more than a foot of snow since Monday afternoon, and it was still snowing Tuesday before dawn, Boulware said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Sandy Leaves Path of Devastation

    Police rescued several stranded motorists on the interstate in West Virginia, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

    A significant winter storm continued in northeast Tennessee, where snow was forecast for higher elevations through Wednesday morning.

    At Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, park spokeswoman Dana Soehn reported 22 inches of snow at the highest elevations, with strong winds blowing drifts up to 4 feet deep.

    Roads were closed throughout the park and a handful of hikers coming off sections of the Appalachian Trial on Tuesday morning reporting tangles of fallen trees and waist-deep drifts.

    "We don't know exactly how many people are still up there, but we've not received any distress calls," Soehn said. "It's that heavy, wet snow, so it is difficult to plow."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast

     

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