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US East Coast hunkers down for Hurricane Sandy

As many as 50 million people on the East Coast of the US are in Hurricane Sandy's path, which is moving toward land and already causing a nightmare. Wall Street has closed Monday's markets in anticipation of the storm.

New York City and other metropolitan areas along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States will likely resemble ghost towns on Monday, two days before Halloween, as residents there batten down the hatches for what is being dubbed the "Frankenstorm."

Hurricane Sandy, which already claimed more than 60 lives when it blew through the Caribbean, is slowly moving its way north over the Atlantic Ocean and is expected to make landfall late on Monday or early on Tuesday (local time).

Closures and cancellations

Sandy's presence is being felt well ahead of its arrival. Ten states and Washington, DC, have declared states of emergency, with high winds, flooding, and widespread power outages expected. Coastal areas have already been hit with heavy rain and high waves, and some flooding has already been reported.

Watch video 01:46

US prepares for Sandy

Public schools and universities will be closed in many areas on Monday, and all nonemergency government staff members in Washington, DC, have been asked to stay home from work.

US stock options and markets, including electronic trading, will also close Monday. This is the first time Wall St has closed for a weather-related event since Hurricane Gloria in 1985.

Service for New York City's subway system was halted on Sunday in anticipation of the storm, and as many as 7,400 flights are set to be canceled because of the weather. At Germany's largest airport, Frankfurt, 12 flights to the US were canceled. Flights from Düsseldorf and Munich were also called off.

Residents evacuated

Residents in low-lying areas have been asked to evacuate, with 375,000 people in New York City under orders to leave. Forecasters are warning of a storm surge of up to 11 feet (3.3 meters) for waters in New York City and parts of New Jersey.

"My first message is to all people across the Eastern Seaboard, mid-Atlantic going north," US President Barack Obama said on Sunday. "You need to take this very seriously."

With winds stretching over 500 miles (800 km) from the eye of the storm, Hurricane Sandy's size is of particular concern. Making matters worse, the storm is on course to collide with an Arctic jet stream from the north and a winter storm from the west that could bring up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain to some areas, and 3 feet (90 cm) of snow to others.

mz,dr/jr (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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