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Forecasters said Sandy was a rare, hybrid “super storm” created by an Arctic jet stream wrapping itself around a tropical storm, possibly causing up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain in some areas, as well as up to 3 feet (90 cm) of snowfall in the Appalachian Mountains from West Virginia to Kentucky.
At 5 a.m. (1100 GMT), the NHC said Sandy was centered about 385 miles (615 km) south southeast of New York City, about 40 miles closer than was reported three hours earlier.
Worried residents in the hurricane’s path packed stores, searching for generators, flashlights, batteries, food and other supplies in anticipation of power outages. Nearly 284,000 residential properties valued at $88 billion are at risk for damage, risk analysts at CoreLogic said.
Transportation systems shut down in anticipation. Airlines canceled flights, bridges and tunnels closed, and national passenger rail operator Amtrak suspended nearly all service on the East Coast. The U.S. government told non-emergency workers in Washington D.C. to stay home.
Utilities from the Carolinas to Maine reported late Sunday that a combined 14,000 customers were already without power.
The second-largest oil refinery on the East Coast, Phillips 66’s 238,000 barrel per day (bpd) Bayway plant in Linden, New Jersey, was shutting down and three other plants cut output as the storm affected operations at two-thirds of the region’s plants.
Oil prices slipped on Monday, with Brent near $109 a barrel. “With refineries cutting runs, we’re likely to see a build-up in crude stocks which could be driving bearish prices at the moment,” said Michael Creed, an economist at National Australia Bank in Melbourne.
Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of some 375,000 people from low-lying areas of the city, from upscale parts of lower Manhattan to waterfront housing projects in the outer boroughs.
The U.S. Coast Guard responded to a distress call from HMS Bounty, a tall ship with 17 people aboard approximately 90 miles (145 km) southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina. A replica built for the 1962 movie version of “Mutiny on the Bounty,” the three-mast, 180-foot (55-metre) vessel was believed to be taking on water and was without propulsion, the Coast Guard said.
“We are talking with the crew and the owner about search and rescue possibilities,” Petty Officer David Weydert said.
While Sandy’s 85 mph (140 kph) winds were not overwhelming for a hurricane, its exceptional size means the winds will last as long as two days.
“This is not a typical storm,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. “It could very well be historic in nature and in scope.”