October 24, 2014

Hurricane Sandy: US Braces for Dangerous Superstorm

By Sadaf Shinwari - Mon Oct 29 2012, 9:45 am

Hurricane Sandy, which could become the largest storm ever to hit the United States, is set to bring much of the East Coast, including New York and Washington, to a virtual standstill in the next few days with battering winds, flooding and the risk of widespread power outages.

From Washington to Boston, big cities and small towns Sunday buttoned up against the onslaught of a superstorm that could endanger 50 million people in the most heavily populated corridor in the country, with forecasters warning that the New York area could get the worst of it — an 11-foot wall of water.

As of 8 a.m. ET, the storm was about 260 miles (420 km) southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and about 395 miles ( 636 km) from New York City, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km). Sandy was moving at a speed of 10 miles (16 km) per hour, and is expected to move parallel along the Southeast coast Sunday, approaching the mid-Atlantic coast by Monday night.

The decision, made late Sunday night, leaves the American stock markets closed for weather conditions for the first time in nearly three decades. The New York Stock Exchange had previously planned on closing only its physical trading floor, while allowing for trading on its Arca electronic exchange. It has now decided to halt all trading.

The Nasdaq and BATS stock markets, which are built on electronic trading, also decided to close. The CME Group, which operates the Nymex commodities exchange, said that it would halt trading on its physical commodities floor and on its electronic stock futures and options exchanges.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, or Sifma, said in an e-mailed statement that it was calling for bond trading, which is all done electronically, to close at noon Monday, though it left the final decision to member firms.

Airlines canceled more than 7,200 flights and Amtrak began suspending train service across the Northeast. New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore moved to shut down their subways, buses and trains and said schools would be closed on Monday. Boston also called off school. And all non-essential government offices closed in the nation’s capital.

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.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday afternoon called on residents and visitors at East Coast to get prepared for “a serious and big storm” and follow the instructions of state and local authorities as Hurricane Sandy is approaching.

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