The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy downgraded to tropical storm but still dangerous

— Forecasters say Sandy is no longer a hurricane but is still a dangerous system taking dead aim at New Jersey and Delaware.

The National Hurricane Center said Monday evening that Sandy is a post-tropical storm and losing strength but still has sustained winds at 85 mph.

The center says storm surge has reached heights of 12.4 feet at Kings Point, N.Y.

Gaining speed and power through the day, the storm knocked out electricity to more than 1.5 million people and figured to upend life for tens of millions more. It clobbered the boarded-up big cities of the Northeast corridor, from Washington and Baltimore to Philadelphia, New York and Boston, with stinging rain and gusts of more than 85 mph.

Hurricane Sandy raked cities along the Northeast corridor with rain and wind gusts, flooding shore towns, washing away a section of the Atlantic City Boardwalk, and threatening to cripple Wall Street and New York City's subway system with a huge surge of corrosive seawater.

By midday, the storm was picking up speed and was expected to blow ashore in New Jersey early in the evening, hours sooner than previously expected. Forecasters warned it would combine with two other weather systems — a wintry storm from the west and cold air rushing in from the Arctic — to create an epic superstorm.

From Washington to Boston, subways, buses, trains and schools were shut down and more than 7,000 flights grounded across the region of 50 million people. The New York Stock Exchange was closed. And hundreds of thousands of people were under orders to move to higher ground to await the storm's fury.

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney suspended their campaigning with just over a week to go before Election Day.

At the White House, the president made a direct appeal to those in harm's way: "Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Don't delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given, because this is a powerful storm."

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