Tens of millions of people in America's north-east are being affected by Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy, after it crossed the coast near New Jersey earlier today. Our live coverage is being fed by Fairfax correspondents Paul McGeough in DC, Nick O'Malley in Maryland and Nick Miller in New York. All times below are AEDT.
- Nuclear power plant on alert
- Yasi, Tracy dwarfed by mother of all storms
- Crane collapses atop Manhattan skyscraper
- Sandy as seen through webcams
- Bounty sinks, crew member dies
- Bigger than The Perfect Storm
- More than 15,000 flights grounded
- Governor hits out over Sandy stay put advice
We’ll keep bringing you updates from the affected areas in North America across our Fairfax sites, but now we’re bringing this live blog to a close.
Thanks for your company through the day. Here's how it all unfolded:
5.10pm: It's macabre, but a lot of people are asking us about the death toll. It's a natural question. Thus far today it's been extremely difficult to get an accurate number on this. US media are currently reporting anything from 10-13 confirmed dead. The New York Times reported seven in the New York region, and there were two killed in Philadelphia by falling trees, which the Inquirer said had still not "officially" been recorded as storm deaths. At least one crewmember of the sunken Bounty has died, with another crew member missing. Canada’s Globe and Mail is reporting the death of a woman in her 50s, who was hit by debris in Toronto.
These are, of course, on top of the nearly 70 people confirmed dead after Sandy cut a swathe through the Caribbean earlier this week.
4.58pm: Here is a roundup of various news reports from the northeast US, compiled in the past half hour.
- The New York Timessaid there had been at least seven deaths in the local region, including two boys, aged 11 and 13, who were killed in North Salem in Westchester County, when a tree fell on the house they were in.
- The mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, has called on the National Guard to help rescue people in the mile-square city on the Hudson River, The Wall St Journalreported. Mayor Dawn Zimmer said at least four live wires were down — including two under water — and that firefighters were unable to respond to calls. “We’re in a very difficult situation,” Zimmer said. “The Hudson River has breached us at the north and and the south end.”
- NJ.com said Jersey City was dealing with a "full-fledged disaster" that had both City Hall and the Jersey City Medical Center surrounded by water. Meanwhile, officials said they were investigating reports of numerous collapses in buildings throughout the city, including a facade collapse at a Newport highrise.
- The Philadelphia Inquirer said two deaths had reported in the wake of the storm - an eight-year-old boy who was crushed by a fallen tree limb, and a 62-year-old Berks County man died in a house collapse caused by a downed tree.
- Boston.com described Sandy as one of the largest storms to ever hit the East Coast, saying it "pummeled Massachusetts with punishing winds and dangerously high seas, flooding some coastal areas, and cutting power to some 385,000 homes".
- Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy told the New Haven Register there was “no doubt” that thousands of residents could be stranded in their homes as further flooding appeared imminent, threatening lives. Malloy said he would worry later at “who should have done what. What I’m most concerned with right now is the loss of human life and what we can do to prevent it.”
- The Washington Post said President Obama and Mitt Romney tried to navigate the tricky politics of dealing with the historic storm. "It remained unclear which candidate, if either, would benefit, but their somewhat differing responses on Monday gave voters more insight into two men who have offered starkly different visions for America."
4.43pm: This latest Google 'crisis map’ shows the current location of Sandy, and its projected direction. The orange markers represent power outages. More than 3 million Americans are believed to have lost power.
4.37pm: Despite mother nature throwing everything at the United States, the storm's effect on next week's presidential election is not far from the minds of many, as Paul McGeough reports from Washington:
Obama couldn’t possibly say that, but The New York Times is shrieking in its Tuesday editorial about what Republican challenger Mitt Romney would do with the National Response Coordination Center, the war room of the Federal Emergency Management Agency which at times like this plays a critical response management role.
The editorial says: "At a Republican primary debate last year, Romney was asked whether emergency management was a function that should be returned to the states. He not only agreed, he went further. 'Absolutely,' he said. 'Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.'"
4.31pm: We've got more on the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant concerns here. There are fears a further rise in water levels at the New Jersey plant could force operators to use emergency water supplies from a fire hose to cool spent uranium fuel rods.
The concerns about the spent fuel pool at Oyster Creek were reminiscent of the fears that followed the Fukushima disaster in Japan last year, when helicopters and fire hoses were enlisted to ensure the pools remained filled with fresh, cool water.
4.22pm: Cleveland’s Plain Dealer (seriously, how cool are newspaper names in the US?) is warning residents to “get ready for a whallop” as Ohio expects wind gusts of more than 110km/h.
About 44,000 homes were without power in Cleveland, about 480km inland from New York City.
3.55pm: A woman rescued after superstorm Sandy sank a tall ship off the US has died, while the captain is still missing.
Claudene Christian was found ‘‘unresponsive’’ at sea and taken to hospital amid a dramatic rescue operation in wild Atlantic Ocean swells whipped up by the storm. Her death was later confirmed by the hospital.
Meanwhile, it is estimated Sandy knocked out power to some 3.6 million homes and businesses, according to the US Energy Department.
There are warnings that figure may increase overnight, and that power blackouts may eventually affect as many as 10 million people in the region for as long as 10 days.
The blackouts left homes in the dark, closed the stock market, and disrupted operations at refineries, pipelines and power plants.
Damaged power lines, substations and other infrastructure will contribute to the $20 billion in total storm costs estimated by Eqecat, a risk management company in Oakland, California.
3.50pm: From AAP - A nuclear power plant in New Jersey has declared an alert from superstorm Sandy as water passed a minimum level but no safety concerns were reported.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the Oyster Creek power plant, in Ocean County just north of the resort of Atlantic City, was already on a scheduled outage as the massive storm made landfall nearby on the Atlantic coast.
The regulator said that all plants in the storm’s way were in safe condition and that inspectors were working to verify independently that operators underwent proper procedures.
3.41pm:Brisbane woman Mia Inglis, who is holed up in her seventh-floor apartment in Washington DC, has been glued to television news reports since Sandy made landfall.
Fortunately, she was able to enjoy a hearty meal of steak and vegetables for dinner, because her apartment building still has power. But she said she has experienced some early symptoms of cabin fever.
“Streets are deserted. I haven't seen a single person since this morning. The wind is howling through the city. Sounds very scary,” she said.
“I am looking forward to leaving my apartment on Wednesday.”
3.18pm: As the clock ticks past midnight in NYC, New Yorkers are still in for a long night.
Local television is reporting the NYU Hospital is being evacuated after a power failure that also affected back up generators.
But there's some good news, with flood levels starting to recede.
2.36pm: Don't believe everything you see. With thousands of spectacular images of Sandy all over social media, it can be easy to get fooled.
So how do you spot a fake? We've got some tips for you right here.
2.30pm: The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has produced the following table comparing Sandy to Cyclone Yasi:
2.27pm: Atlantic City in New Jersey looks to have copped a caning. This pic from AP.
2.24pm: Paul McGeough, in Washington DC, has been watching the responses of local officials dealing with Sandy's onslaught.
"We’ll never forget ‘Heckuva job’ Brownie, the hapless and soon-after resigned head of disaster relief in the US, when a seemingly delusional President George W Bush congratulated Brown for the mess that he was making of the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina – as the cameras rolled.
"Natural disasters are a time when second-tier political leaders can shine – or not. In this context first judgments shape the public sense of how these guys perform – even if they have failed to change the course of the hurricane.
"Here then is the New York Times' take on three men with very sharp elbows in the greater New York area:
- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg – “[He] played the stern parent, chiding the kids not to surf and offering sensible suggestions like staying home to eat a sandwich.”
- New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo - “[He] exuded a cool confidence in his [public] appearances, detailing preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy… a confident but unhurried everyguy: the hunky local fire chief.”
- New Jersey State Governor Chris Christie – “[He] was characteristically blunt discussing storm preparations, deriding those who resisted evacuation orders as ‘selfish and stupid.’ But he showed a softer side too.”
2.08pm: Some pretty spectacular footage from New York's Con Edison power plant, with several explosions captured on camera.
Meanwhile, Peter Hannam reports Australian atmospheric scientists and the Bureau of Meteorology are closely monitoring Sandy for what it tells them about climate risks in our own region.
2.02pm: Cameron Atfield here, taking over the reins from Conal Hanna.
We’re getting some conflicting reports on casualties, with CNN reporting up to 10 deaths in the United States.
Over the border, Canada’s Globe and Mail is reporting the death of a woman in her 50s, who was hit by debris in Toronto.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said his city was bracing for winds of up to 90km/h.
1.41pm: There's one name dominating the Twitterverse today and that's Sandy. (Can anyone else hear John Travolta warbling to Olivia Newton John in Grease about now? No, it's just me. Fair enough.)
Here's a Twitter Trendsmap showing who in the world is tweeting about #sandy. Weirdly, there are two Australias, one that cares and one that doesn't ...
1.35pm: Australian atmospheric scientists and the Bureau of Meteorology are closely monitoring the US response to Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy for what it tells us about climate risks in our own region and the best way to communicate the dangers to the general population, reports Peter Hannam.
"Everybody’s tracking it here closely," said Karl Braganza, manager of climate monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre.
Sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic region when Hurricane Sandy formed are between 3-5 degrees Celsius higher than average levels, helping to increase the storm’s ferocity as it joins with other storm systems to batter the north-eastern US.
Scientists are reluctant to attribute any single weather event to the effects of global warming. Climate models, though, predict fewer – but more intense - major storms when they form.
“This is the sort of thing we’re warning about increasing over time,” Dr Braganza said. “We are breaking records across metrics where we’d expect to break records as the planet warms.”
1.24pm: Fires are breaking out across New York City, even as it floods, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has told a briefing. Mayor Bloomberg called on householders in flooded areas to move to higher rooms in their homes and stay put and to avoid calling 911 unless their life was in danger. He said the water had peaked and the surge should recede by midnight (3pm AEDT). Much of Manhattan is in darkness as the power company cut supply in an effort to save the infrastructure.
1.18pm: Fairfax correspondent Nick Miller has just braved the inclement outdoors for this report from Brooklyn. He writes:
"Just went for a walk around Williamsburg at the height of the storm surge, down to East River foreshore. Wind is gusting at hold-onto-a-tree strength. River has broken its banks here as well, submerging a ferry terminal, flooding nearby streets and isolating an MTA (subway) power plant.
Other streets strewn with debris, fallen branches, etc. Furious cops are corralling drunken youths - 'I put my life at risk for you idiots?' says one. 'Go home!'.Manhattan skyline is eerie. Almost entirely dark south of the Empire State Building at 34th St. Occasional flashes from exploding transformers light clouds. Won't be going out again til wind dies down."
1.05pm: Paul McGeough reports from Washington how workers from the much maligned local power company Pepco ventured out to start reconnecting darkened homes - but were driven back in by high winds.
"Optimistic prediction by DC metro bosses that trains and buses will start coming back into service as early as Tuesday afternoon [Wednesday morning Australian time]. I'll believe that when I see it and even if it happens, still a lost day for the hundreds of thousands who will not get to work in the morning."
Meanwhile, McGeough writes some people are eager to apportion blame for the storm:
"Idiot, idiot, idiot - in the land of freedom and liberty no surprise that on the night that Sandy comes ashore John McTeman, wacko fundamentalist Christian preacher, claims the storm is more proof that “God is systematically destroying America” as punishment for the “homosexual agenda”.
12.58pm: Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy had not even crossed the New Jersey coastline when the political fallout began. Governor of the state, Chris Christie, accused Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford of causing residents to become stranded by providing poor advice.
"This has become particularly problematic in Atlantic City, where for whatever reason Mayor Langford urged people to stay in shelters in the city.
"For those of you who are on the barrier islands who decided it was better idea to wait this out than to evacuate, and for those elected officials who decided to ignore my admonition, this is now your responsibility."
12.54pm: The crane left dangling in the New York breeze earlier today by Sandy is reported working on a project being managed by Australia's Lend Lease. The crane is in such a precarious state nearby buildings, including the Parker Meridien Hotel, have been evacuated.
12.40pm: The city that never sleeps has gone unusually dark, at least south of 26th Street. The below AFP photo shows the financial end of town, as taken from Brooklyn. The power outage has stemmed from flooding and the probably loss of a transmission feeder. There are estimates more than three million people are without power across the US.
And in this other Getty Images photo below, you can see some of the flooding affecting Lower Manhattan.
12.27pm: It may no longer be a hurricane, but Sandy is reportedly causing hurricane-force wind gusts over Long Island and the New York metropolitan areas, according to the latest update from the US National Hurricane Center. Their most recent update says the centre of Sandy is 24 kilometres northwest of Atlantic City, heading west northwest at 33km/h.
12.22pm: Amazing new photos of Manhattan building damage coming through. This is the building we reported on earlier, on the corner of 8th Avenue and 14th Street. There are no reported injuries.
12.20pm: Fairfax chief correspondent Paul McGeough is on the move in Washington DC and finding the streets spookily deserted.
Eerie, eerie, eerie - driven out of (my) home by power cut. Drove 8km drive to hotel in Arlington, in DC suburbs. Any other night would be hundreds of cars on the road; tonight, just six and all of them crawling with care. Steady rain, bitumen carpeted with autumn leaves which have been shredded from trees.
12.15pm: Nick O'Malley has filed another update from where he's holed up in Maryland, plugged into coverage in the US.
Manhattan has been isolated and darkened by the biggest storm to hit the north east of United States.
All the bridges and tunnels onto the island have been closed and the Brooklyn to Battery tunnel is flooding. There are reports of bright explosions, suggesting either lightning strikes are hitting the area, or more ominously, electricity conductors are blowing up.
Power has been cut off across lower Manhattan, while over three million people across 11 states and the District of Columbia are now without power.
Sustained winds of 130 kilometers an hour are battering the region as the storm moves slowly inland. While a storm surge of over 3.5 metres is deluging the coastline from Atlantic City to New York.
At least five people have so far been killed, according to reports, including a 30-year-old man trapped by a fallen tree in Flushing New York, a second struck by a tree in Connecticut and a third person killed after a car hydroplaned in the suburbs of Washington.
Late on Sunday night (US time) the storm struck and sunk the HMS Bounty replica tallship. One person is missing while 15 crewmembers have been rescued. One of them is in hospital.
Government offices, schools, universities, public transport and airports have all been closed, while hospitals have enacted disaster plans, instructing staff to bring clothes and personal supplies to last several days.
Residents have been warned to expect to lose power for up to 10 days and were directed to stock up on torches and batteries as well as nearly 20 litres of clean water per person.
12.08pm: Foreign Affairs minister Bob Carr has given an update on Australians caught up in the region affected by Sandy, Daniel Flitton reports. Senator Carr said some 2800 Australians were registered as living or travelling in the region affected by the storm - with an estimated 24,000 other Australians thought to be in the area. The Australian consulate in New York is closed, with staff expected to go back to work in a day or two after the storm has passed. Senator Carr urged Australians to stay indoors and take no risks. The Foreign Affairs helpline is 1300 555 135.
11.52am: Massive seas associated with Sandy have reportedly destroyed parts of the famed Atlantic City boardwalk. Water has also begun flooding downtown New York, as this photo of the corner of 34th Street and 1st Street shows.
11.37am: Reports now of a rapidly increasing death toll in New York. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Governor Andrew Cuomo's office has confirmed at least five storm-related fatalities in New York.
11.29am: New Yorkers are providing unprecedented updates of the storm's progress via social media channels. Our technology team have just pulled together this wrap of some of the best webcam coverage you can watch.
11.17am: The New York Times is reporting that Sandy has claimed the life of a 30-year-old man in Queens, killed when a tree fell on his house. The man lived in East Flushing. It is the first death attributed to Sandy in New York. The body of a woman crew member of the Bounty, which sank off North Carolina, has been transported to hospital, in an unresponsive state.
11.09am: Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy has made landfall. The US National Hurricane Center advised at 11am AEDT that Sandy had crossed the coast of southern New Jersey. Maximum sustained winds of 130km/h. It is moving west-northwest at 37km/h.
11.05am: Former Fairfax Media journalist Mat Murphy is bunkered in a 25th-floor apartment inside the lower Manhattan evacuation zone and reports trees at 45 degrees, water rising in the East River and an imminent power failure. He says the decision to stay or go was, for many, influenced by the dramatic build-up to, and anti-climax of, Hurricane Irene, which caused mass destruction in the Caribbean but had weakened to a strong rain storm when it hit New York last year.
‘‘I was here for Irene and we literally did batten down the hatches and it was a real non-event and a lot of people here are saying it’s gonna be pretty much the same again this time around,’’ Murphy tells us.
‘‘I was doing a bit of a survey in the lift - and this is a pretty big building, 32 floors - and I’d say half the residents were leaving, and half were staying. I think the people leaving were more concerned about flooding and not being able to get out of the building for a couple of days.’’
Murphy says he’s taped his windows and is preparing for a possible ‘‘slumber party’’ in the hallway with neighbours.
‘‘I was kind of feeling a bit nervous about the decision not to evacuate, but there’s a family across the hallway and I could hear their little one this morning, so they’re still here, which makes me feel a bit better.’’
10.59am: Fairfax US correspondent Nick O'Malley says the wind has suddenly picked up in Maryland, where he's holed up. He's provide a few updates, courtesy of local media in the US:
- NBC reports the water level at the Battery in New York has just risen over the 1821 record of 11.87 feet (3.62 metres).
- More than 2.2 million people are now estimated to be without power over 11 states and the District of Columbia, CNN reports.
- Traffic and street lights are out in Atlantic City, where a 12 hour curfew has begun. Governor Chris Christie has told those who have not already evacuated to stay put.
- The combative Governor Christie has also blamed the stranding of some people in Atlantic City on the mayor, Lorenzo Langford, AP reports. Christie says Mayor Lorenzo Langford erred by allowing people to shelter on the barrier island rather than moving them inland.
10.56am: More on the Australian travel situation. Virgin Australia’s flights between Australia and Los Angeles have not been affected. Virgin Australia’s partner is Delta Airlines in the United States. It, along with American Airlines and United Airlines, have cancelled all flights in to and out of the three area airports in New York. Qantas travel info can be found below (10.02am). More than 12,000 flights have been grounded overall.
10.32am: So if you're trying to put Sandy into some sort of Australian context, this newly posted article should help. Sandy is 15 times the size of Cyclone Tracy, or three times as wide as the more recent Cyclone Yasi. It is, however, less intense at its core at present, with winds of up to 140km/h compared to 217km/h-plus for Tracy and 285km/h for Yasi.
10.27am: Fairfax's chief foreign correspondent, Paul McGeough is in Washington DC. He writes on how a hurricane-turned-tropical-storm has mixed with an Arctic jetstream to create something "bigger than Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm".
"One of several intimidating meteorological characters in the mix, Sandy has been churning up the Atlantic since last week and just now, as I write, has shrouded my home in the drab darkness of a greater Washington afternoon without electricity. Now scratching this by torchlight as Sandy steps up speed – on Sunday afternoon she was making a sedate 20 km/h; 24 hours later she's stepping out at 45 km/h."
10.20am: Hurricane Sandy is no longer a hurricane. The US National Hurricane Center says in its latest advice issued at 10am AEDT that Sandy is now a Post-Tropical Cyclone. The maximum winds have decreased slightly and are now near 140km/h. The storm has not yet made landfall, despite some US TV networks jumping the gun. The 10am update said the hurricane was expected to make landfall in the "next hour or so".
10.13am: More details are emerging of that building "collapse" in Manhattan. It appears the Fire Department may have jumped the gun - the front facade of a four storey building has collapsed, by the looks. Here is a photo taken by @MegRobertson and posted on Twitter. There are no reported injuries.
10.02am: Qantas has cancelled its Los Angeles-to-New York flights for Monday and Tuesday. Up to 600 passengers are stranded after Qantas cancelled its Monday and Tuesday daily return flights, affecting four flights in total. Flights from Australian airports at Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to the west coast of the US are still operating. Qantas spokesman Thomas Woodward said it would announce on Wednesday morning, Australian time, whether it would cancel more flights travelling on Wednesday in the United States. Flight-tracking service FlightAware claims that nearly 12,500 flights have been cancelled on the north-west coast of the United States.
9.54am: The New York Fire Department has tweeted about a building collapse in Manhattan, at the corner of 8th Avenue and 14th Street. They have described it as a "multiple dwelling building". (This post has been corrected, see 10.13am).
9.49am: Alas, Hurricane Sandy's death toll seems set to grow. One of the two people missing after a tall ship sank off the US coast has been found, but is "unresponsive". The US Coast Guard’s Lieutenant Mike Patterson said crews were taking 42-year-old Claudene Christian to hospital. The Coast Guard is still searching for the captain of the HMS Bounty. Sandy has killed more than 60 people on its journey through the Caribbean.
9.42am: More than 1.5 million Americans are now without power, according to this update from CBS. The majority of the outages are in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
9.29am: Our man in New York, Nick Miller, just took a wander down to the East River foreshore. He writes: "A bunch of spectators pose and take pix of each other. Gusts of wind that make you stagger.
Driving rain. Police have cordoned off the last 50m to the river which is really churned up but not breaking banks here, yet." Nick took a quick snap too.
9.24am: Another of the many Aussies in New York, Crocmedia's Craig Hutchison, told SEN radio this morning that normally durable New Yorkers were "as scared as he had ever seen them". "It's like the film I Am Legend," he said of the deserted streets.
9.15am: The folks at Google have, predictably, put together a nifty 'crisis map' for those looking to keep track of the hurricane. The interactive map allows users to follow the projected path, and areas at risk of storm surges. Here's the latest view:
9.05am: Hi all, Conal Hanna slipping into the blogging chair to take over from early riser Daniel Sankey.
Sandy is now very close to approaching landfall in New Jersey. A reminder, US President Barack Obama has thus far signed off on emergency declarations for the following states: New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut, District of Columbia and Maryland. Rob Carolan, a meteorologist from New Hampshire, has described Sandy as "the largest tropical storm (to hit) the Atlantic".
"Its circulation is enormous, it’s affecting one way or another the entire eastern third of the country," Carolan said.
8.35am It's definitely not the way you would want to spend your honeymoon — but if Victorian newlyweds Simon and Simone Pollard (pictured left) can weather this storm, then the rest of their marriage will surely be sunny. The Thornbury couple was this morning holed up in their hotel in New York City's lower east side, watching rolling television coverage of Hurricane Sandy that was due to hit the city. Read the full story here.
8.29am Crocmedia's Craig Hutchison this morning told Melbourne's SEN radio that normally durable New Yorkers were "as scared as he had ever seen them". "It's like the film I Am Legend," the AFL reporter said of streets left deserted as Hurricane Sandy approached. While Hutchinson said the winds were "ferocious", the greatest danger was likely to come from the crippled crane high above 57th street (see below). He said residents were expecting an all-time record storm surge to hit Manhattan, with 24 hours of fierce storm activity peaking in the next three hours.
8.24am The power has gone out Atlantic City as Hurricane Sandy approaches. The casino city — already severely affected by flooding — has also sustained damage to its famous boardwalk. In New York City, more than 100 police and firefighters are poised to act if a broken crane, dangling more than 80 stories above the ground atop a luxury skyscraper, falls the the ground. Nearby buildings have been evacuated. Read the full story here.
8.16am Not surprisingly, Hurricane Sandy has caused havoc with air travel across the USA, with almost 7000 flights cancelled today and another 2500-plus cancelled tomorrow.
8.02am Latest estimates put the eye of Hurricane Sandy about 45km off the coast of southern New Jersey, with landfall expected within the hour. Atlantic City is one of the cities that will bear the brunt of the storm, with flooding already affecting streets. "The city is under siege," Thomas Foley, Atlantic City's chief of emergency services, told the New York Times. She must have lost a bet or something. As we say in our slogan, 'Do AC'. She’s doing AC, all right," he said.
7.57am In sport, the NFL pushed its trade deadline back 48 hours to Thursday because of the disruption caused by Hurricane Sandy. The deadline for teams to agree on player swaps had been set for Tuesday, but the league decided to allow more time in part because several teams suspended operations as the deadly hurricane approached the US east coast. NFL offices in New York were also closed for Monday and Tuesday, which would have made it difficult for the league to process any trade paperwork. Read the full story here.
7.52am With the landfall of Hurricane Sandy just minutes away, US television networks such as CNN haven't been afraid to send reporters out into the firing line. But is it necessary to put reporters in danger when covering the story? Piers Morgan argues putting reporters in the eye of storms like Sandy definitely is necessary, "to show people how dangerous it is, and stay inside". Others, such as blogger and author Jeff Jarvis, disagree. In any case, they've engaged in an interesting debate over the ethics of this via Twitter ... and the reporters themselves don't seem to be retreating for cover, if CNN is any guide. The news network has reporters on the streets in several affected cities, battling high winds and driving rain.
7.39am Southern New Jersey is bracing itself for the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, which is due within the hour. About 50 million people are being threatened by the storm, which is expected to cause damage over a 1200km-long area from the USA's east coast to the Great Lakes region. Winds of up to 150kmh continue to batter the coast, with widespread flooding and monster waves expected.
7.33am Already, we have the obligatory "man paddles kayak down suburban street" photos being circulated. But CNN took it one step further ... showing footage of not just a man paddling down a street, but his friend scuba diving alongside him. David Carr (@carr2n) writes on Twitter to accompany this photograph (below): "Scuba dude on street in Lindenhurst, Long Island with doofus on bike and marginally smarter guy in kayak."
7.20am Oh, the irony. Hurricane Sandy has shut down production on Russell Crowe's latest feature film, Noah — a Darren Aronofsky-directed film about the biblical flood and Noah's ark. Right in the storm's firing line is a massive ark that has been specially built for the production. Currently in the water at New York's Oyster Bay, the 140-metre behemoth is not seaworthy, so could be in need of some flood repairs before the day is over. Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times.
7.10am The first female goal umpire to officiate an AFL grand final, Chelsea Roffey (pictured left), is one of many Aussies currently in New York City as Hurricane Sandy approaches. She writes in her personal blog that she may not be able to officiate a match in London if she cannot make her scheduled flight in two days' time. "I need to get the hell out of here and am trying desperately to bring my flight from JFK forward to avoid being trapped indefinitely and missing the London footy match altogether," she writes. "If anyone has mates in the UK with goal umpiring experience or aspirations, tell them to stop sinking pints and warm those index fingers up … they may be needed!"
6.59am Chris Wade (@cmwdotme) posted this image (above) on Twitter of the badly damaged crane atop a building in Manhattan. The crane is dangling dangerously over the famous Carnegie Hall. Chris writes: "View of crane through a telescope. It's already broken off and is definitely going to fall. It's amazing watching this unfold. I'm on the 34th floor of Trump Towers and it's like having a front row seat for this storm."
6.52am Hurricane Sandy is affecting more than just Americans in the greater New York region ... it's also shut down the stock exchange for the first time since 9/11. Both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq market shut completely today and will stay closed tomorrow. Disaster estimator Eqecat says the storm could cause up to $20 billion in damage and affect 20 per cent of the US population. More news in Business Day's full update.
6.40am It hasn't taken long for the internet pranksters to start circulating fake images of Hurricane Sandy. Today, the Poynter Institute for journalism has published a blog post to help journalists avoid getting fooled by fake hurricane photos. The Atlantic has taken it one step further, publishing a story in which it sorts the real Sandy photos from the fake ones. A website called Is Twitter Wrong? is also pointing out the fakes.
6.31am The HMS Bounty replica ship (pictured left) has been sunk by Hurricane Sandy and two crew members are missing, with 14 people rescued by the US Coast Guard off the coast of North Carolina. The Bounty's owner contacted the Coast Guard late on Sunday night US time saying she had lost communication with the crew. Read the full story from Fairfax Media's US correspondent Nick O'Malley here.
6.21am Nick Miller (pictured left), a Fairfax correspondent based in Brooklyn, says experts now believe Hurricane Sandy's last minute acceleration before landfall may benefit New York City. "It means the storm will be over land for high tide," he says. "They're reducing their flood peak predictions a bit. On the other hand it means the winds will be stronger where the hurricane actually hits in New Jersey, so there may be more localised damage." Nick will give regular updates throughout the morning from his Brooklyn base. Nick also points out a photo of a badly damaged crane on one of Manhattan's tallest building sites. There's fears it could topple, causing extensive damage and potentially injuries. View the image here.
6.10am A "once-in-a-lifetime storm" is how Hurricane Sandy has been described by US meteorologist Jeff Tongue. Speaking to USA Today, Tongue said he had not seen anything like Hurricane Sandy in his 30-year career. Fellow meteorologist Stu Ostro, of the Weather Channel, said history was being written today. "[Hurricane Sandy] will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary [storms] to have affected the United States," he said.
ABOVE: The Weather Channel's map of the predicted path of Hurricane Sandy.
5.50am Hurricane Sandy is now less than 200km from Atlantic City, travelling at about 45km/hour as it approaches the coast in a north-northwesterly direction. Speaking with reporters at the White House earlier today, US president Barack Obama said it could take several days for power to be restored to homes and businesses. Already, more than 300,000 homes are without power ... but millions are expected to be affected.
5.39am The effects of flooding are being felt right along the US coast as Hurricane Sandy continues its ominous approach (landfall expected at 8am AEDT). In New York, the two tunnels linking Manhattan with Brooklyn and New Jersey have both been closed. And the famous boardwalk in Atlantic City has also suffered damage as floodwaters continue to rise. Needless to say, Atlantic City's casinos are closed.
5.25am Fairfax Media correspondent Nick Miller (pictured left), who is based in Brooklyn, says the streets are "pretty much deserted". "Here in Brooklyn, the bar across the street is now sandbagged. Windows are taped up. The coffee shop around the corner shut at midday (3am AEDT), as did most remaining shops," he writes.
5.15am Already, more than 300,000 Americans are without power as heavy rain and flooding cause havoc in the approach of Hurricane Sandy. However, the worst is still to come, with the storm's centre not expected to strike the coast for another three hours. USA Today reports the storm could bring a "wall of water" up to 11 feet (3.35m) high.
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4.45am Latest reports predict Hurricane Sandy could make landfall in New Jersey as early as 5pm local time (8am AEDT). Currently rated a strong Category 1 storm, winds of up to 150km/hour have been recorded, although wind gusts have reached as high as 185km/hour.
And while the storm is yet to make impact with the coast, its effects are already being felt. Streets in cities along the coast are already swamped, with waterways transformed into raging torrents.
Maryland's Governor, Martin O'Malley, told the New York Times: "There will be people who die and are killed in this storm. We need to watch out for each other, but the intensity of this storm is such that there will undoubtedly be some deaths that are caused ... by the floods, by the tidal surge and by the waves."
Yesterday, New York went into emergency mode, ordering the evacuation of more than 375,000 people in low-lying communities from Coney Island in Brooklyn to Battery Park City in Manhattan and giving 1.1 million schoolchildren a day off today. The city opened evacuation shelters at 76 public schools.