Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hurricane Sandy is gaining strength and has taken a left turn toward the East Coast and its date with two other weather systems. An official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is calling it "the worst-case scenario."

 

The storm, with tropical storm-force winds extending almost 500 miles from its center, is expected to blow ashore along the New Jersey coast tonight or early tomorrow. Combined with high tides and a full moon, it brings the fear of a huge surge of seawater.

The combined storm is expected to affect everyone from the East Coast to the Great Lakes, with up to 3 feet of snow forecast for the West Virginia mountains.

Airlines have canceled thousands of flights in the Northeast and air travel could come to a halt for at least two days. That has caused a ripple effect across the globe.

The Coast Guard has rescued 14 members of the crew forced to abandon the tall ship HMS Bounty caught in Hurricane Sandy off the North Carolina Outer Banks.

The Coast Guard is searching for two other crew members. It corrected the total number of crew to 16 from 17.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill says 14 people were rescued by two Coast Guard helicopters about 6:30 a.m. Monday.

The survivors were being taken to Air Station Elizabeth City on the North Carolina coast.

The director of the HMS Bounty Organization, Tracie Simonin, said that the tall ship left Connecticut last week for St. Petersburg, Fla. She said the crew had been in constant contact with the National Hurricane Center and tried to go around the storm.

 U.S. stock markets are closed as Hurricane Sandy nears landfall on the East Coast. And they are likely to remain closed tomorrow. The last time the New York Stock Exchange had an unplanned closing was after the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Overseas today, European stock markets were mostly lower.

Boston is joining the list of major East Coast cities to shut down their transit agencies because of Hurricane Sandy.

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

Davey says the decision was made ahead of time to give people who took public transportation in the morning several hours to get home. He says trains and buses will complete their routes after 2 p.m. Monday, but there will no routes started beyond that time.

He says he is unsure when the MBTA will resume service, though he is hoping it might be in time for the Tuesday morning commute.

Transit agencies in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are also shut down.

Two tunnels into Manhattan will be closed at 2 p.m. Monday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference that the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and Holland Tunnel will be closed. The Lincoln Tunnel is remaining open, as are other crossings.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will be closely monitoring wind and flood conditions.

Drivers are urged to reduce speed and pay close attention to updates on electronic road sign

  Hurricane Sandy has done significant damage to a large ocean pier in the Maryland beach resort of Ocean City.

Police spokesman Mike Levy confirms the damage, which occurred overnight as the storm began to pound the resort town with waves, wind and rain.

The pier is at the southern end of the city's Boardwalk in an area that's been under a mandatory evacuation order since Sunday afternoon

.Tracy Marie Lind, a front desk worker at a Holiday Inn & Suites in Ocean City, said the pier was an icon and about as close to the ocean as one could get without getting in the water.

President Barack Obama is cancelling more campaign events to monitor Hurricane Sandy back in Washington.

The latest political event to get scrapped as the storm heads to the East Coast is the president's trip to Green Bay, Wis., Tuesday.

The White House announced Obama was canceling that trip as Air Force One was en route to Washington from Florida Monday morning. The president decided not to attend a noon rally in Orlando Monday so that Air Force One could get safely back to Washington.

With the massive East Coast storm playing havoc with people's work and school at the beginning of the new week, Obama press secretary Jay Carney says the president is returning to the capital today to, quote, "monitor the preparations for and early response" to the hurricane.

Four critical election states are affected by the storm — North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire.

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