Superstorm Sandy Liveblog: Did the White House respond too quickly? (+video)

Some Republicans, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, have praised Obama's response to the hybrid superstorm, but former FEMA chief Michael Brown, who coordinated the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, say that the White House has acted too quickly. 

By , CSMonitor.com

Tuesday, 2:15 p.m.

Los Angeles Times reporters Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons write that President Obama has told his team that he wants to see them "leaning forward" on their response to Sandy.

“I don’t want to hear that we didn’t do something because bureaucracy got in the way,” said Obama in a Situation Room meeting, according to an unnamed White House official.

Recommended: Hurricane preparedness: 5 things you can do to keep safe

 Obama has suspended campaigning to focus on storm response a strategy that the Hennessey and Parsons says "seems to run counter to the White House’s previous repeated assertions that the president can conduct official business on the road as easily as at the White House." 

"But in this case, the Obama team has clearly determined that it is good politics to show the president hard at work using the power of the federal government," they write.

The White House's response to Sandy has drawn praise from one unexpected quarter: As the Washington Post reports, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a fierce critic of Obama and enthusiastic campaigner for Mitt Romney, called the president's efforts "outstanding."

The Post reports that on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Christie  said "the President has been all over this and he deserves great credit” and that "it’s been very good working with the President and his administration.”

Not all Republicans are pleased with Obama's attempts to provide timely relief to those afflicted by the storm. In an interview with the alt-weekly Denver Westword, former FEMA chief Michael Brown worried that Obama may have jumped the gun. "Why was this so quick?" asked Brown.

As head of FEMA from 2003 to 2005, Brown coordinated the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. He was famously praised by President Bush for doing a "heck of a job," although he resigned shortly afterward.

Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.

In Washington, Reagan National and Dulles International airports "weathered Hurricane Sandy without (major) damage or flooding. We will monitor the water level of the Potomac River at Reagan National as runoff from the storm makes its way downstream," reports the
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Flights are expected to resume this afternoon.

But the MWAAT urges travelers to check with their airlines.

Any further updates will go out on the MWAAT twitter feed

Also, the Associated Press is reporting that The New York Stock Exchange will reopen on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 12:30 p.m.

West Virginia is dealing with snow today, which is causing power outages to at least 243,000 customers and closing dozens of roads. At least one death was reported.

The storm not only hit higher elevations hard as predicted, communities in lower elevations got much more than the dusting of snow forecasters had first thought from a dangerous system that also brought significant rainfall, high wind gusts and small-stream flooding.

President Barack Obama early Tuesday approved a state of emergency declaration sought by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. It authorizes federal assistance for storm-related issues in the state.

Blizzard warnings remained in effect for more than a dozen counties. Webster Springs received 17 inches of snow, while 15 inches was on the ground in Fayetteville Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service said.

At least 33 roads were closed by snow, ice, high water, and downed trees and power lines. Interstate 68 was closed from Morgantown to the Maryland line. Other major road closures included U.S. 250 in Barbour and Randolph counties and U.S. 219 in Tucker County, said state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Leslie Fitzwater, according to the Associated Press.

IN PICTURES: Tracking Sandy

Tuesday 12:05 pm

In the Great Lakes region, Sandy has halted shipping operations, and wave action is building in places like Michigan’s "Thumb Area" near Port Huron. Lake Huron’s low water levels, however, mean that officials aren’t overly concerned about shoreline flooding. In Chicago, officials are warning residetns and bicyclists to stay away from Lakeshore Drive, as massive waves began to crash against the breakwaters, reports The Christian Science Monitor.

Tuesday 9:25 a.m.

Sandy continues to churn and covers almost half the United States. In Chicago and Wisconsin, meteorologists are warning of high waves churning up in Lake Michigan today – as high as 27 feet.

The center of Sandy is moving at about 15 mph through western Pennsylvania in a west-northwesterly direction, and slowing. It is expected to turn north into western New York state tonight and into Canada on Wednesday.

The National Hurricane Center is warning of gale force (39 to 54 mph) winds Tuesday across a swath of the US from Virginia to New England. East Coast storm surges could still be as much as four feet at high tide, which may not sound like much given the surges of the past 24 hours but remember that the peak surge in Battery Point in NYC during Hurricane Irene was just over four feet. 

 Sandy's still got a load of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service.

RAINFALL TOTALS OF 3 TO 6 INCHES ARE EXPECTED OVER FAR NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM TOTALS OF 8 INCHES POSSIBLE. RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 4 TO 8 INCHES ARE EXPECTED OVER PORTIONS OF THE MID-ATLANTIC STATES...INCLUDING THE DELMARVA PENINSULA...WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 12 INCHES POSSIBLE. RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 1 TO 3 INCHES WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 5 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE FROM THE SOUTHERN TIER OF NEW YORK STATE NORTHEASTWARD THROUGH NEW ENGLAND.

And snow too.

SNOWFALL TOTALS OF 2 TO 3 FEET ARE EXPECTED IN THE MOUNTAINS OF WEST VIRGINIA WITH LOCALLY HIGHER TOTALS TODAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY. SNOWFALL TOTALS OF 1 TO 2 FEET ARE EXPECTED IN THE MOUNTAINS OF SOUTHWESTERN VIRGINIA TO THE KENTUCKY BORDER...WITH 12 TO 18 INCHES OF SNOW EXPECTED IN THE MOUNTAINS ALONG THE NORTH CAROLINA/TENNESSEE BORDER AND IN THE MOUNTAINS OF FAR WESTERN MARYLAND.

SNOWFALL TOTALS TO DATE:

NORTH CAROLINA... 

BAKERSVILLE 8 INCHES

 LANSING 5 INCHES

FAUST 6 INCHES ...

PENNSYLVANIA...

MOUNT DAVIS 9 INCHES ..

VIRGINIA... 

TAZEWELL 5 INCHES ..

WEST VIRGINIA...
BOWDEN 14 INCHES

CANVAS 12 INCHES

COAL CITY 12 INCHES

SUMMERSVILLE 10 INCHES

ELKINS 7 INCHES

KITZMILLER 6 INCHES

 BLUEFIELD 6 INCHES

Tuesday 12:15 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center has issued its final public advisory for Sandy, the hybrid storm that has shut down stretches of the US East Coast from Virginia to Maine.

New York City is still reeling. The Associated Press reports that powerful storm surges have overwhelmed the financial district and inundated the city's subway system. More than one million people in the city's metro area are without power.

At a press conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has warned residents not to call 911 unless it is a life-threatening emergency, and has told New Yorkers to stay put. "You have to stay wherever you are. Let me repeat that. You have to stay wherever you are," he said.

The National Hurricane Center still warns of 75 mph maximum sustained winds, with gusts of even higher speeds. Over the next two days, Sandy is expected to weaken as she creeps across Pennsylvania and then turns north into western New York State.

"The worst of the weather has come," said Bloomberg.

Monday 10:45 p.m.

As Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast, many are asking if the so-called Frankenstorm was caused by – or at least fueled by – global warming.

The Huffington Post's Tom Zeller quotes Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the USA National Center for Atmospheric Research, who describes Sandy as representing "the new normal."

"The past few years have been marked by unusually severe extreme weather characteristic of climate change." Trenberth told HuffPo. "The oceans are warmer and the atmosphere above the oceans is warmer and wetter. This new normal changes the environment for all storms and makes them more intense and with much more precipitation."

At the New Yorker, journalist Elizabeth Kolbert points to a press release by the German reinsurance giant Munich Re, titled "Severe weather in North America." It shows a nearly five-fold increase in the number of damaging weather-related events in North America over the past three decades, compared with a four-fold jump in Asia, a 2.5-fold leap in Africa, and two-fold increase in Europe and 1.5-fold in South America.

"It is, at this point, impossible to say what it will take for American politics to catch up to the reality of North American climate change," writes Kolbert.

Definitively blaming manmade climate change for Hurricane Sandy's size and intensity is impossible. After all, the world has experienced damaging hurricanes long before humans began burning fossil fuels. At most, we can say climate change simply increases the odds of such storms.

Still, one odd signal jumps out. Sandy, which has been dubbed a Frankenstorm by forecasters, is a hybrid storm created when a slow-moving, unusually wavy Arctic jet stream from the north wrapped itself around a tropical storm from the south. A study published in January 2012 found that, as Arctic ice melts, the darker water absorbs more heat, which causes the jet stream, which is propelled by north-south temperature differentials, to slow down and become wavier.

Is Superstorm Sandy a result of climate change? Nobody knows. But what we do know is that Sandy is an example of what climate change looks like.

Monday 10:05 p.m.

Police, fire, and EMS scanners in New York City reveal that Sandy is keeping emergency responders very busy tonight. There are widespread reports of flooding throughout the city, people stranded, and at least one death. Here are some recent incidents:

TRAUMA ALERT
10/29/12 20:02
(QUEENS - ) UNITS ON SCENE OF A TREE DOWN ON A PERSON, AIDED DEAD ON SCENE/DECEASED [NYC055]
TECHNICAL RESCUE
10/29/12 20:00
(BROOKLYN - ) MALE STUCK ON TOP OF GARBAGE TRUCK DUE TO HIGH WATER, NATIONAL GUARD ENRTE [BCC022]
TECHNICAL RESCUE
10/29/12 19:49
(BROOKLYN - 154.370) L-168 REQ. IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE - PEOPLE TRAPPED IN FLOOD WATERS, COLD RESCUE SUITS REQ. [NZL111]
1 ALARM FIRE
10/29/12 19:34
(QUEENS - 154.400) E-268 REPORTS WORKING FIRE IN A DWELLING, EXPOSURE PROBLEM BUT UNABLE TO COMMIT DUE TO FLOODING. [NZL111]
TECHNICAL RESCUE
10/29/12 19:33
(QUEENS - ) NYPD 100PCT SURROUNDED BY WATER- REQ. ESU & BOATS TO EVACUATE OCCUPANTS. [MAS163]

These reports are delayed up to two hours. You can listen to the scanner bands yourself at radioreference.com

Monday 9:30 p.m.

The latest update from  the National Hurricane Center reports huge storm surges in New York Bay: 13.3 feet at Kings Point on Long Island, 13.7 feet at the Battery in New York City, and 13.3 feet at Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

Reuters is reporting that Con Ed shut down power for two areas in Lower Manhattan to protect electrical equipment. The news agency reports that there are some 156,000 customers in New York City and Westchester County now without electricity.

More dire safety concerns could mean that power could be turned off for many more: The Associated Press reports that nuclear power regulators are keeping a close eye on wind speeds near reactors in five states. If sustained winds top 74 mph, the plants will go offline, per safety procedures.

Monday 8:30 pm

Sandy's eye is now over land, according to the National Hurricane Center, with sustained winds of 80 miles per hour. 

From here we can expect Sandy to lose intensity, but the East Coast is by no means out of the woods yet.  According to the NHC, tide guages have measured storm surges of almost 12 feet at Kings Point on Long Island, 8.4 feet at the Battery in New York City, and 8.6 feet at Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

Monday 7:15 pm

The National Hurricane Center is now designating Sandy as a "post-tropical cyclone," albeit one that still has hurricane-force winds:

SATELLITE...RADAR...AND AIRCRAFT DATA INDICATE THAT SANDY HAS CONTINUED TO LOSE TROPICAL CHARACTERISTICS.  NHC IS NOW DESIGNATING SANDY AS A POST-TROPICAL CYCLONE.  IN ADDITION...THE MAXIMUM WINDS HAVE DECREASED SLIGHTLYAND ARE NOW NEAR 85 MPH...140 KM/H.

As Sandy transitions from a hurricane to a tropical low, it will stop powering itself primarily by extracting heat from the oceans; instead it will churn as a result of horizontal temperature differences in the atmosphere. 

Fox News reports that Sandy has made landfall in southern New Jersey just after 6 p.m., but this has not yet been confirmed by the National Hurricane Center, which reported at 7 p.m. that the storm will hit land within the next hour or so.  

When Sandy arrives, it is very likely that it will be at or near Atlantic City. New Jersey On-Line reports that the Garden State's governor, Chris Christie, has issued an angry rebuke to Atlantic City mayor Lorenzo Langford, who did not require residents to evacuate.

The Monitor's Mark Clayton reports that, by 6 p.m., some 2.1 million people were already without power in nine eastern states.

Monday 5:20 pm

With sustained winds of up to 90 miles per hour, Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall somewhere along New Jersey's southern coast sometime within the next "couple of hours," according to the most recent update from the National Hurricane Center

Sandy is big. The NHC update says to expect hurricane-force winds, that is, winds of more than 55 mph, up to 175 miles from her center, along all portions of the East Coast between Chincoteague, Va. and Chatham, Mass. Tropical-storm-force winds (35 mph to 55 mph) are forecast for 485 miles from the center.

Sandy, which is approaching the shore at 28 mph, is not expected to weaken before it makes landfall, although it will very likely become less intense once its eye is over land. 

The NHC warns of storm surges from North Carolina to New Hampshire, with particularly strong surges – up to 11 feet – occurring in Long Island Sound, Raritan Bay, and New York Harbor.  

Writing from New York City, the Monitor's Ron Scherer reports that Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy predicts that Sandy would bring two times more water into Long Island Sound than Hurricane Irene, which caused about $19 billion in damages. 

Monday 4:15 pm

The eye of Hurricane Sandy is now 2-3 hours from the coast of New Jersey, according to the latest National Hurricane Center advisory. Winds are still at 90 mph, and Sandy's still moving at about 28 mph. Some have speculated that since Sandy is arriving sooner than forecast, and ahead of the high tide (between 8-9 p.m. tonight), that the storm surge won't be as bad as predicted. But that reasoning may be wrong.

Already the storm surge at New York City's Battery is at 6.1 feet, well above last year's peak during Hurricane Irene. Atlantic City is reporting a 5- foot storm surge. New Haven, Conn. is at 5 feet, and Boston has seas 4.2 feet above normal.

As previously reported, the expected storm surge in the NYC area is 6 to 11 feet. Even if Sandy makes landfall before the high tide, the winds whip around the backside of Sandy will push sea levels higher.

Monday 3:05 p.m.

Hurricane Sandy's barometric pressure has dropped to 940 millibars. Wind speeds are holding at 90 mph, according to the 2 p.m. National Hurricane Center update. 

Sandy is turning toward the East Coast and has sped up to 28 mph. Even as it makes a left turn, "it also is swapping energy sources to become an extratropical cyclone.

The shift from tropical to extratropical tends to intensify the storm for a period, as well as redistribute winds and rainfall in ways that can shift the regions most heavily affected by wind and rain," writes Pete Spotts, the science writer for The Christian Science Monitor.

If Sandy retains the current barometric pressure, or it drops further, at landfall, the location would go into the record books as experiencing the lowest barometric pressure of any spot in the US north of Cape Hatteras, according to data compiled by the Weather Underground.

Monday 2:50 p.m. 

Google has put together a crisis map for Hurricane Sandy, which overlays lots of different data about the storm – including its current position and forecast track, storm surge probabilities, traffic conditions, and emergency shelter locations – into a single interactive image.  

Also, be sure to check out this mesmerizing map of wind conditions across the United States. It was developed a few weeks by Google data visualization experts Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, in part to help people conceptualize the potential of wind energy, but the map is particularly striking on a day like today. 

How does Hurricane Sandy compare with Irene, which battered the East Coast from South Carolina to Maine last year? Take a look at this interactive image from the Wall Street Journal.

Irene was the fifth costliest hurricane in US history.

If you're interested in how Sandy compares to every cyclones recorded since 1851, check out this graphic from the Guardian

Finally, if you haven't had enough scenes of reporters getting pelted by sea foam, people buying bottled water, or Fox News weathercaster Janice Dean throwing air quotes, have a look at Poynter's collection of animated gifs of hurricane clichés.

Monday 1:45 pm

What's all the buzz about Hurricane Sandy's barometric pressure? (And does it have anything to do with inducing labor in pregnant women?)

Hurricane Sandy's barometric pressure is really low, especially for a Category 1 (winds between 74-95 mph) hurricane.

Generally, the lower the barometric pressure, the higher the winds.

Barometric pressure is a measurement of the weight of the air. "Baros" is Greek for weight, and the Greek word for measure is "metron." A barometer measures the weight of a column of air directly above a given point in terms of inches or milibars of mercury displaced.

The normal sea level pressure is 1013.25 millibars.

Hurricane Sandy's barometric pressure was 943 milibars Monday morning, according to the Hurricane Hunters, the US Air Force pilots that regularly fly into the eye of hurricanes. That reading was a drop from the previous reading, indicating an intensification of the hurricane.

Hurricane Sandy's barometric pressure is now roughly equivalent to the typical Category 3 or Category 4 storm on Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. But Sandy is not a typical hurricane; it is, in the words of  Weather Channel meterologist Stu Ostro, a "meteorologically mind-boggling combination of ingredients."

But we digress from role of barometric pressure. Suffice it to say, Sandy's barometric numbers are low, and they are helping make it a very big storm.

How low are Sandy's barometric readings? The storm isn't (yet) in the US Top 10 most intense (as measured by low barometric pressure) hurricanes. But Sandy's getting close. No. 10 on the list was a Hurricane Carla, a 1961 Category 4 storm with 931 millibars.

The lowest barometric pressure ever measured in a US hurricane was 882 millibars, in Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Wilma had sustained winds of more than 185 mph, making it a Category 5 storm.  The cyclone with the lowest recorded barometric pressure in the world was the 1979 storm Typhoon Tip, in the western Pacific Ocean, with a measurement of 869.9 millibars.

Why does a lower barometric pressure in the eye of the storm produce higher winds?

"Wind is a result of forces attempting to balance. As the pressure lowers in the center, the air spiraling around the eye must spin faster to offset the greater “slope” (gradient) of the pressure surface," according to Steve Lanore, who uses the analogy of a ball spinning around the edge of a bowl to explain this.

There's also a good graphic of that explains the correlation between barometric pressure and hurricane wind speeds from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Oh yes, is Hurricane Sandy likely to induce labor?

Most obstetricians who have looked at this say no. But the theory has some logic to it. Some have put forth the idea that as the atmospheric pressure drops, there's less pressure on the amniotic sac membrane, and it spontaneously ruptures – causing the woman's water to break.

But Dr. Salih Yasin, a practicing obstetrician for 25 years in Miami, who told My Health News Daily that he has not seen any increase in women going into labor during hurricanes. And Florida gets its fair share of hurricanes and tropical storms. He mentions two studies – one in Houston and one in Miami – that show no correlation between falling barometric pressure and births.

Monday 12:15 p.m.

 
Forecasters are warning that storm surges will be particularly strong thanks to the high tide, which coincides with the full moon. 
What does the amount of light reflecting off the moon have to do with the tides? Our friends at OurAmazingPlanet explain that the tides are influenced not just by the gravitational pull of the moon, but also that of the sun:

At full moon, the Earth, sun and moon are arranged in a line, with Earth in the middle. Tidal ranges are especially high at this time because the gravitational tugs of the sun and moon on our planet reinforce each other. The same effect is felt at new moon, when the three bodies all line up, with the moon between Earth and the sun.

During periods of high winds, a spring tides makes storm surges more severe. AccuWeather quotes MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel, who calls storm surges "interesting," a word that scientists often use as a synonym for "very bad."

"They are one of the major sources of damage caused by hurricanes," says Emanuel. "They are like tsunamis but they are not generated by earthquakes but by hurricane winds."

Monday 11:15 a.m.

Hurricane Sandy is strengthening, and moving a little slower as it starts its turn west, according to the 11 a.m. National Hurricane Center advisory.
Sandy now has maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, up from 85 mph at the 8 a.m.

It has slowed its north-northwestern movement from 20 mph, to 18 mph. And is expected to make landfall this evening "just south of the Southern New Jersey coast."

Monday 10:50 am

If high winds and storm surge weren't enough, several states are now experiencing snow as Sandy mixes with the low pressure ridge along the East Coast, in the Appalachian range, some higher elevations of North Carolina and Tennessee are already getting snow.

 And the National Weather Service expect blizzard conditions in some higher elevations of West Virginia.

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHARLESTON WV
625 AM EDT MON OCT 29 2012
...FIRST WINTER STORM IS A BLIZZARD FOR THE HIGH TERRAIN...
.THE REMAINS OF HURRICANE SANDY WILL COMBINE WITH AN UPPER LEVEL
LOW TO PRODUCE HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS ACROSS THE MOUNTAINOUS
COUNTIES.
...BLIZZARD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 4 PM EDT
WEDNESDAY...
* LOCATIONS...VERY ELEVATION DEPENDENT WITH THE BEST CHANCES
  ACROSS HIGH TERRAIN...BUT CAN NOT BE RULED OUT IN THE VALLEYS.
* HAZARD TYPES...HEAVY WET SNOW...AND STRONG GUSTY WINDS.
* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...RANGING FROM 1 TO 6 INCHES BELOW 2000
  FEET...TO 1 TO 3 FEET ABOVE 3000 FEET.

At 8 a.m. snow was falling in Boone, N.C., according to WRAL.com.

In the Great Smokey Mountains, there are reports that 6.5 inches had fallen in places and that Highway 441 near the Newfound Gap was now closed. The headline on Knoxnews.com:
"Snow from 'Frankenstorm' already hitting Smokies; 441 closed."

The National Weather Service report for Morristown, Tenn. in eastern Tennessee, has a Winter Storm Warning through Wednesday morning. The report includes:

_ A deep plume of moister will move over the spine of the Appalacians, result in in the potential for rain showers and snow showers in the valleys and some locally heavier snowfall across the higher elevations.
- Gusty northwesterly winds associated with this strengthening storm system will increase to 25-35 mph, and may gust up to 40-50 mph across the mountains.

The greatest potential for significant snowfall will be along the higher mountains … with 6-12 inches possible above 3,000 feet.

But the National Hurricane Center is still predicting larger snowfalls in some areas of the Appalachians.

SNOWFALL..SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 2 TO 3 FEET ARE EXPECTED IN THEMOUNTAINS OF WEST VIRGINIA WITH LOCALLY HIGHER TOTALS TODAY THROUGHWEDNESDAY. SNOWFALL OF 1 TO 2 FEET IS EXPECTED IN THE MOUNTAINS OFSOUTHWESTERN VIRGINIA TO THE KENTUCKY BORDER...WITH 12 TO 18 INCHESOF SNOW EXPECTED IN THE MOUNTAINS NEAR THE NORTH CAROLINA/TENNESSEEBORDER AND IN THE MOUNTAINS OF WESTERN MARYLAND.

Atlantic City flooding as storm surge begins

Monday 9:10 a.m.

With the arrival of the morning high tide, flooding has begun in the streets of Atlantic City. There are unconfirmed reports that parts of Atlantic City's boardwalk have collapsed.

In Atlantic City, winds are gusting to tropical storm strength. All 12 casinos were shut down at 4 p.m. Sunday after Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency for the entire state.

By 7:30 a.m., the streets immediately around the new Revel casino and hotel were covered with more than a foot of water, witnesses said.
Parts of Black Horse Pike in West Atlantic City, Route 30 and Route 9 in Absecon, Route 559 in Somers Point and Route 322 in Hamilton are already flooded, county officials said. Roads in Hamilton Township and Mays Landing were also impassable, reports NJ.com.

In Cape May the ocean has also breached the main oceanfront drive, Ocean Avenue, near the city's southern end, the Associated Press reports

New Jersey is also seeing power outages. As of 3:30 a.m., PSE&G is reporting 829 customers without power due to the early effects of Hurricane Sandy. Of that total, 794 of the outages are located in Deptford Township in Gloucester County. As of 5 a.m., JCP&L reported about 5,000 customers without power in Burlington and Ocean county, including more than 4,000 in Toms River, reports NJ.com.

RECOMMENDED: Five ways to prep for a hurricane

Monday 8:40 am.

The National Hurricane Center 8 a.m. report indicates that Hurricane Sandy is now starting to pick up speed (moving at 20 mph) and turn west. The blocking high pressure area in the north Atlantic will send Sandy on a sharper turn toward the coast later Monday morning.

Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft have clocked Sandy's sustained winds at 85 mph, with higher gusts, as far as way as 175 miles from the eye of the hurricane. As we've said this is a BIG storm. Tropical storm force winds (above 39 mph) extend almost 500 miles from the center of the storm. That means tropical force winds are now pummeling the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, and Easter Virginia.

From the National Hurricane Center report: WIND...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS...OR GALE FORCE WINDS...ARE ALREADY OCCURRING OVER PORTIONS OF THE MID-ATLANTIC STATES FROM NORTH
CAROLINA NORTHWARD TO LONG ISLAND.  GALE FORCE WINDS ARE EXPECTED
TO CONTINUE TO SPREAD OVER OTHER PORTIONS OF THE MID-ATLANTIC
COAST...NEW YORK CITY...AND SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND LATER THIS
MORNING.  WINDS OF HURRICANE FORCE COULD REACH THE MID-ATLANTIC
STATES...INCLUDING NEW YORK CITY AND LONG ISLAND...LATER TODAY.
WINDS AFFECTING THE UPPER FLOORS OF HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS WILL BE
SIGNIFICANTLY STRONGER THAN THOSE NEAR GROUND LEVEL.

Storm Surge Outlook

Monday 8:15 a.m.

As predicted, Hurricane Sandy has strengthened in the last 24 hours. It has begun it's turn toward the  East Coast. The barometric pressure has dropped to record levels, the winds have picked up to about 85 miles per hour, and Sandy has grown in size. Sandy now spans 1,000 miles. While it's still at least 300 miles from landfall, tropical storm strength winds (sustained winds above 39 mph) are already being felt on shore.

Record storm surges are expected, which is why hundreds of thousands of residents from Maryland to Connecticut were ordered to leave low-lying coastal areas. Some 375,000 people were ordered to leave lower Manhattan and other parts of New York City.

NOAA and the National Hurricane Center are predicting storm surges of 6-11 feet in the New York City area. How bad is that? For context, during Hurricane Irene last year, the storm surge at Battery Park hit 4.4 feet. The maximum surge during Irene was 4.5 feet in the New York City area, at Kings Point.

Currently, the storm surge is already at 4 feet at Kings Point, according to the Weather Channel.

Here's the National Hurricane Center 8 a.m. outlook on storm surge:

NC NORTH OF SURF CITY INCLUDING PAMLICO/ALBEMARLE SOUNDS...4 TO 6 FT SE VA AND DELMARVA INCLUDING LOWER CHESAPEAKE BAY...2 TO 4 FT UPPER AND MIDDLE CHESAPEAKE BAY...1 TO 3 FT LONG ISLAND SOUND...RARITAN BAY...AND NEW YORK HARBOR...6 TO 11 FT ELSEWHERE FROM OCEAN CITY MD TO THE CT/RI BORDER...4 TO 8 FT CT/RI BORDER TO THE SOUTH SHORE OF CAPE COD INCLUDING BUZZARDS BAY AND NARRAGANSETT BAY...3 TO 6 FT CAPE COD TO THE MA/NH BORDER INCLUDING CAPE COD BAY...2 TO 4 FT MA/NH BORDER TO THE U.S./CANADA BORDER...1 TO 3 FT

Check out the predicted storm surge map at Wundergrund.com.

SEE YESTERDAY'S HURRICANE SANDY LIVEBLOG: SUNDAY OCT. 28

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