UK & World News
Hurricane Sandy: 60 Million People Warned
Hurricane Sandy is expected to affect up to 60 million people in the US when it meets two other powerful winter storms.
The threat has prompted President Barack Obama to cancel campaign events to monitor the storm from the White House.
The hurricane is continuing to head north from the Caribbean - where it has killed at least 43 people - to threaten the eastern US with sheets of rain, high winds and heavy snow.
Officials warned millions in coastal areas to get out of the way.
Experts said that no matter how strong it is when it hits land, the rare hybrid, monster storm - dubbed "Frankenstorm"- will cause havoc over 800 miles (1,300kms) from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.
"This is not a coastal threat alone," said Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "This is a very large area."
Climate expert Andrew Freedman said: "This could get very bad actually.
"This could approach unprecedented or record levels of storm surge for parts of New Jersey, New York City, Connecticut, up into southern New England especially. We're pretty worried about the amount of water that's going to come in from the ocean."
Sandy weakened briefly to a tropical storm early on Saturday but was soon back up to Category One hurricane strength, packing 75mph (120kph) winds about 335 miles (539km) southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday.
Experts said the storm is most likely to hit the southern New Jersey coastline by late Monday or early Tuesday.
Governors from North Carolina, where heavy rain was expected on Sunday, to Connecticut have declared states of emergency, while Delaware has ordered mandatory evacuations of coastal communities.
Massachusetts was forecast to feel the hurricane's effects as early as Sunday evening and the peak of the storm's forces on Monday afternoon.
New York was considering shutting down the subways to avoid flooding. Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned New Yorkers of the dangers of Hurricane Sandy, but stopped short of ordering any evacuations.
"This is a dangerous storm and I think we're going to be OK but if it were to strengthen unexpectedly or change its expected path, it could do a lot of damage and you could be at risk," he said.
Half a dozen states have warned residents to prepare for several days of lost power.
It is feared that the presidential election could be affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The White House said the President was cancelling campaign appearances in Northern Virginia on Monday and Colorado on Tuesday so he can monitor Hurricane Sandy.
The President has directed his team to work to bring all available resources needed by state and local governments preparing for the storm, which could affect a third of the country with high winds, heavy rains and flooding.
The storm's trajectory also caused Mitt Romney to cancel an event on Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Sunday.
The category one storm could cause further late changes to the candidates' campaign schedules and any resulting flooding and power cuts could make it hard for voters to get to the polls.
Meanwhile, airlines have told passengers to expect cancellations and have waived change fees for those who wanted to reschedule their trips.
The US National Weather Service said Sandy, after it hits the coast, is expected to merge with two winter weather systems near New York or New Jersey as it moves inland.
That combination may create a rare hybrid monster storm that could bring nearly one foot of rain, high winds and up to two feet of snow to the nation's most heavily populated corridor.
Experts said the storm could be wider and stronger than Hurricane Irene, which caused more than $15bn (£9.3bn) in damage when it struck in August 2011, and could rival the worst East Coast storm on record.
"It's looking like a very serious storm that could be historic," said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the forecasting service Weather Underground.
James Franklin, forecast chief for the National Hurricane Centre, added: "It's going to be a long-lasting event, two to three days of impact for a lot of people."
Electric utilities were taking no chances, lining up extra crews and tree-trimmers.
Trees that still have their leaves could be weighed down by snow and topple onto power lines, or strong winds could knock trees and lines down.
Some observers have compared Sandy to the so-called Perfect Storm that struck off the coast of New England in 1991, but that one hit a far less populated area.
"The Perfect Storm only did $200m (£124m) of damage and I'm thinking a billion" this time, the Weather Underground's Masters said.
"Yeah, it will be worse."
Earlier in the week Sandy killed more than 40 people in the Caribbean, wrecked homes and knocked down trees and power lines.