Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned New Yorkers that approaching Hurricane Sandy poses serious risks to the city, despite relatively mild conditions tomorrow that may fall short of expectations on the eve of a “superstorm.”
“Don’t get lulled tomorrow when there’s not a lot of rain and not a lot of wind,” Bloomberg said at a press conference this evening. “This is a dangerous storm … It could do a lot of damage.”
The mayor said no evacuations have been ordered and that decisions whether to shut down the city’s mass-transit system or schools would be put off until at least Sunday. He said all city offices are scheduled to remain open Monday and city employees should plan on going to work as normal.
The city is opening 65 shelters in public schools around the city to house New
Yorkers – and their pets – who don’t feel safe in their homes; those will open at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Police have been put on extended hours, the Fire Department will send extra fire engines to Staten Island in case ferry service is suspended and bridges are closed, and all city parks will be closed at 5 p.m. Sunday, Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg urged residents to stay in their homes during the storm, and said those who planned to ride out the storm elsewhere stay in the city rather than fleeing upstate, where the damage is expected to be greater. He also had a stern warning for surfers who may be tempted to take advantage of surging waves.
“You may want to run the risk, but if we have to send out emergency workers after
you, their lives will be at risk. You just don’t have to a right to do that to someone
else,” the mayor said.
The Staten Island Ferry will be running as long as the wind stays below 45 knots,
although riders should expect slower than normal service.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have declared states of emergency as
Hurricane Sandy barreled north from the Caribbean – where it left nearly five
dozen dead – to meet two other powerful winter storms and create a hybrid
Sandy weakened briefly to a tropical storm early today but was soon back up to
Category 1 strength, packing 75 mph winds about 335 miles southeast of
Charleston, S.C., as of 5 p.m. Experts said the storm was most likely to hit the
southern New Jersey coastline by late Monday or early Tuesday.
Even if Sandy loses strength and makes landfall as something less than a hurricane, the combined superstorm was expected to bring misery to a huge section of the East. An 800-mile wide swath of the country could see 50 mph winds regardless of Sandy’s strength.
Experts said the storm could be wider and stronger than Irene, which caused more than $15 billion in damage, and could rival the worst East Coast storm on record. This morning, forecasters said hurricane-force winds of 75 mph could be felt 100 miles away from the storm’s center.
If New York City does halt mass transit, subways and buses would start phasing out service at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road would suspend service at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Mandatory evacuations were under way in southern New Jersey’s barrier islands, which people were ordered to leave by Sunday afternoon, and Christie ordered the evacuations of all Atlantic City casinos and said state parks would close.
“We should not underestimate the impact of this storm and not assume the predictions will be wrong,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said during a storm briefing today in North Midletown, near the coast. “We have to be prepared for the worst.”
After Irene left millions without power, utilities were taking no chances and were lining up extra crews and tree-trimmers. Wind threatened to topple power lines, and trees that still have leaves could be weighed down by snow and fall over if the weight becomes too much.
Sandy was projected to hit the Atlantic Coast early Tuesday. As it turns back to the north and northwest and merges with colder air from a winter system, West Virginia and further west into eastern Ohio and southern Pennsylvania are expected to get snow. Forecasters were looking at the Delaware shore as the spot the storm will turn inland, bringing 10 inches of rain and extreme storm surges, said Louis Uccellini, environmental prediction director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Read more at THE NEW YORK POST