Hurricane Sandy Impacts Travel As Airports and Mass Transit Shut Down
NEW YORK CITY–A storm that has the potential to impact over 50 million people is moving up the East Coast of the United States, promising to cause massive power failures and flooding in its wake.
The nation’s airlines have already cancelled over 5,000 flights and Amtrak announced it would suspend train service in the Northeast starting at 7 p.m. Sunday. Both New York and Philadelphia are shutting down their mass transit systems including subways, buses, and commuter rail service, and announced that schools would remain closed on Monday. Other cities including Boston, Washington, and Baltimore also cancelled Monday’s classes for tomorrow.
The number of flights cancelled thus far pales in comparison to what might occur. In August 2011, airlines cancelled over 10,000 flights on one single weekend after Hurricane Irene struck. United Airlines suspended operations at two of its hubs, Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. and Newark Liberty Airport, which serves the New York metropolitan area, and cancelled 777 flights as of Sunday evening. Other airlines with a significant number of cancellations included JetBlue, US Airways, and Delta Air Lines.
Sandy, a Category 1 hurricane, has been blamed for over 65 deaths in the Caribbean before heading up the Eastern Seaboard with sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/h). It is expected to make landfall in New Jersey late Monday, where it will collide with a severe winter weather system known as a midlatitude trough and a burst of cold Arctic air.
Meteorologists expect that the combined storm will bring almost a foot of rain, a potentially lethal storm surge, and dangerous winds that extend hundreds of miles from the center of the storm. It is also expected to leave as much as two feet of snow in Kentucky, North Carolina, and West Virginia. The fact that the storm coincides with a full moon on Monday has the potential to cause even greater flooding due to tides being at their peak.
“The time for preparing and talking is about over,” warned Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate earlier today. Given the fact that Hurricane Sandy remains on a collision course with two other weather systems that could turn it into the storm of the century, he emphasized that “people need to be acting now.”
In New York City, over 370,000 people were asked to evacuate low-lying coastal areas that are at the greatest risk of flooding including Coney Island in Brooklyn and Battery Park City in Manhattan.
President Barack Obama called Hurricane Sandy “a big and serious storm,” adding that federal officials were “making sure that we’ve got the best possible response to what is going to be a big and messy system.”