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(RNN) – Hurricane Sandy has gained strength and picked up speed, and will make landfall between 6 and 8 p.m. Monday on the southern New Jersey or central Delaware coast.

The storm dubbed “Frankenstorm” will slam into coast packing sustained winds of 90 mph with gusts up to 115 mph.

As of the 3 p.m. EST advisory from the National Weather Service, Sandy was located 85 miles southeast of Atlantic City, NJ and 160 miles south of New York.

Sandy’s impending arrival could affect as many as 60 million people. Flights up and down the East Coast are canceled and the New York Stock Exchange is closed Monday – the first time since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The markets will remain closed on Tuesday.

Parts of lower Manhattan are closed due to the possibility of an 11-foot storm surge at midnight Tuesday. Flooding is already occurring at Battery Park, located in that area.

Off the coast of North Carolina, two crew members are missing and 14 rescued by the Coast Guard from the HMS Bounty, a 3-mast ship that was used in the movies Mutiny on the Bounty and Pirate of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

The ship has sunk, according to CNN.

Vice Admiral Robert Parker, of the Coast Guard, said on CNN that the ship’s crew was wearing immersion suits which “keep people afloat face up and offer thermal protection.”

The ship began taking on water when the crew abandoned ship for life boats. However, three crew members were washed overboard and only one made it to the life boats. There is no word about the missing crew members, but Parker said the Coast Guard continues to search for the missing crew members.

The NHC expects 4 to 8 inches of rain across the Mid-Atlantic states, including the Delmarva Peninsula. As many as 12 inches are possible in isolated areas. The northeastern regions of North Carolina will see rainfall totals averaging 3 to 6 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 8 inches. About 1 to 3 inches are expected from the southern tier of New York through New England. Isolated totals could reach as high as 5 inches.

Snow is already starting to fall in West Virginia where 2 to 3 feet are expected, and CNN reports light flakes in Washington.

Forecasters at the NHC also believe Sandy is particularly troubling because of its potential to cause “life-threatening” storm surges. This means normally dry areas along the East Coast could be threatened by rising water levels. The storm has stopped moving easterly and is expected to begin moving westward Monday, which will result in peak surge conditions.

If peak surges occur during high tide times across the coast, above-ground water levels could reach extremely dangerous levels. Areas in Long Island Sound, Raritan Bay and New York Harbor would see water depths of 6 to 11 feet above ground. Coastal surges could also result in 4 to 8 feet of water above ground from Ocean City, MD to the Connecticut-Rhode Island board and 4 to 6 feet north of Surf City, NC.

Sandy is also on course to collide with two winter storm systems that will bring snow to states as far west as Ohio. The movement of the storms may result in ice and snow on power lines, which could cut power to millions of customers.

Both private and federal meteorologists called it a storm that would likely go down in the history books.

“We don’t have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting,” NOAA forecaster Jim Cisco told the Associated Press.

States of emergency have been declared in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., in anticipation of Sandy’s impact, affecting an estimated 50 to 60 million people.

More than 7,400 flights have been canceled at some of the nation’s largest airports, including all New York and Washington-area airports. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York initiated a system-wide shutdown of the city’s subway system at 7 p.m. ET Sunday until further notice. Bus service halted soon after. Subway and bus services in Washington and Philadelphia were also canceled for Monday.

Amtrak suspended Monday services along its Northeast Corridor, including its popular Acela Express service, spanning from Washington to Boston.

Federal offices in Washington will also be closed Monday and trading on the New York Stock Exchange has been suspended. NYSE officials will decide if trading should also be suspended Tuesday later today.

Sandy has diverted attention from the looming presidential election, which is only eight days away. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney canceled two events in Virginia on Sunday and Pres. Barack Obama canceled events in Northern Virginia and Orlando scheduled for Monday. Obama also canceled an event in Colorado Springs, CO, in order to monitor Hurricane Sandy.

“My main message to everybody involved is that we have to take this seriously,” said Obama during an address Sunday evening. “It’s going to be very important that populations in all the impacted states take this seriously. Listen to your state and local elected officials.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency and has mandatory evacuation for coastal areas – even closing the casinos in Atlantic City.

“Don’t be stupid, get out. Go to higher ground,” warned Christie during a news conference.

Shelters have been set up along the coast to assist in the evacuation process.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also urged residents to heed forecasters’ warnings, delivering addresses in both English and Spanish to announce the opening of more than 70 shelters for residents living in low-lying and coastal areas. City officials issued mandatory evacuations for about 375,000 people.

“If you refuse to evacuate you’re not only putting yourself at risk but the first responders who will have to rescue you,” said Bloomberg .

Evelyn Blakey, 79 of Richmond, VA, is one of the city’s residents who headed to a shelter after details about Sandy’s forecast were released.

“I think it would be absolutely dangerous for me to remain alone with no one to assist me in what may come to pass,” said Blakey.

Although no deaths have been reported in the U.S., Sandy has been blamed for at least 60 deaths in Puerto Rico, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Panama and Dominican Republic.

Sandy comes towards the close of one of the busiest tropical storm seasons on record. It is the 18th named tropical storm or hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. Newly-formed Tropical Storm Tony, spinning harmlessly in the Atlantic, makes 19.

An average season sees about 12 named storms and hurricanes.


Article Courtesy of WOIO 19 Action News

WEATHER: Hurricane Sandy Gains Strength in Its Path on the East Coast  was originally published on wzakcleveland.com