Hurricane Sandy grew stronger before dawn on Monday as it churned northward through the Atlantic Ocean en route to what forecasters agreed would be a devastating landfall, possibly within 100 miles of New York City.
At 5 a.m., the huge storm was producing sustained winds of 85 miles an hour after turning due north, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was expected to veer again to the northwest later Monday morning and take dead aim at the coastline of New Jersey.
With a wary eye on its expected path, residents and emergency management officials braced for the impact of the storm in more than half a dozen states, including Connecticut, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Far in advance of the hurricane’s expected landfall, residents were ordered to evacuate, with many seeking refuge in shelters. Mass transit systems ground to a halt, and people stocked up on water and food supplies.
Forecasters say the storm is on a scale that weather historians say has little precedent along the East Coast. Landfall is predicted on Monday night somewhere between central New Jersey and southern Delaware. But most of the eastern United States will feel Sandy’s effects, making the exact landfall spot less important than the overall trajectory.
“One of the biggest storms of our lifetimes is unfolding right now,” the anchor Kelly Cass said as The Weather Channel started its fourth day of nonstop coverage.