Hurricane Sandy hits Eastern seaboard Monday

Follow the latest updates on Sandy follow our live blog here.

What’s closed/open on Tuesday

Where are the power outages

NYC resident: City a 'ghost town'

From the Associated Press: “By evening, a record 13-foot storm surge was threatening Manhattan’s southern tip, howling winds had left a crane hanging from a high-rise and utilities deliberately darkened part of downtown Manhattan to avoid storm damage. ‘It’s really a complete ghost town now,’ said Stephen Weisbrot, from a powerless 10th-floor apartment in lower Manhattan. Water lapped over the seawall in Battery Park City, flooding rail yards, subway tracks, tunnels and roads. Rescue workers floated bright orange rafts down flooded downtown streets, while police officers rolled slowly down the street with loudspeakers telling people to go home.”

Analyst estimates $20B in economic damage

From Bloomberg Businessweek:”Hurricane Sandy’s economic toll is poised to exceed $20 billion after the biggest Atlantic storm slammed into the Eastern U.S., damaging homes and offices and flooding subways in America’s most populated city. The total would include insured losses of about $7 billion to $8 billion, said Charles Watson, research and development director at Kinetic Analysis Corp., a hazard-research company in Silver Spring, Maryland. Much of the remaining tab will be picked up by cities and states to repair infrastructure, such as New York City’s subways and tunnels, he said.”

Report: Sandy's reach includes Northeast Ohio

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Get ready for a wallop. Because even though the center of Hurricane Sandy is battering the East Coast, its fringes were expected to fling wind gusts of 70 mph at Northeast Ohio. Hurricane Sandy will bring sustained winds of 20 to 40 mph inland here, with 58 mph winds over Lake Erie, said meteorologist John Mayers of the National Weather Service in Cleveland. The monster storm will also dump plenty of rain, atop the more than 3.5 inches we’ve received since Friday. By 11 p.m. Monday, the windup for the storm’s punch had begun in earnest. Nearly 44,000 homes in the region were without electricity, dozens of area schools had canceled classes for today, and traveling was difficult — if not impossible.”

Report: Staten Island residents on roofs

From the Staten Island Advance: “STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Chaos overtook Staten Island’s coastal communities Monday night, with flood waters from Hurricane Sandy rising so rapidly some residents took to their roofs in an attempt to escape them, according to emergency radio transmissions. Dozens, if not scores of calls were made to emergency officials, and rescue boats were dispatched, but rescuers were having a difficult time getting to desperate residents due to live power lines submerged in flood water.”

Waters rising, nuclear plant unit shuts down

From the Associated Press: WASHINGTON — Part of a nuclear power plant was shut down late Monday while another plant — the nation’s oldest — was put on alert after waters from superstorm Sandy rose 6 feet above sea level.

One of the units at Indian Point, a plant about 45 miles north of New York City, was shut down around 10:45 p.m. because of external electrical grid issues said Entergy Corp., which operates the plant. The company said there was no risk to employees or the public, and the plant was not at risk due to water levels from the Hudson River, which reached 9 feet 8 inches and was subsiding. Another unit at the plant was still operating at full power.

The oldest U.S. nuclear power plant, New Jersey’s Oyster Creek, was already out of service for scheduled refueling. But high water levels at the facility, which sits along Barnegat Bay, prompted safety officials to declare an “unusual event” around 7 p.m. About two hours later, the situation was upgraded to an “alert,” the second-lowest in a four-tiered warning system.

Blogger 'awed' by Google Sandy map

From ZDNet’s Violet Blue: “People clamor for resources and information about Hurricane Sandy online and off tonight, but to be truly awed — and to get realtime, essential emergency information — visit and share Google’s live interactive Super Storm Sandy 2012 crisis map.”

Outage causes sewage overflow into Md. river

From the Associated Press: SAVAGE, Md. — State officials say a power outage caused by superstorm Sandy at a water reclamation plant has resulted in a sewage overflow of 2 million gallons per hour into the main stem of the Little Patuxent River.

Officials say the overflow began Monday night when a storm-induced power supply loss from both electrical feeders caused the overflow.

Crews with the Bureau of Utilities are working with BGE to restore power.

Officials say because of the severity of Hurricane Sandy, no action is being currently being taken to mitigate the damage.

Sandy outage update: Nearly 6M

From the Post’s Victor Zapana: As of midnight, the number of nationwide outages associated with Superstorm Sandy increased yet again. The Associated Press reports that 5.4 million customers are without power, and the Maryland Public Service Commission is reporting an additional 360,000. This means that nearly 5.8 million customers are suffering through outages.

Bridge into Ocean City reopened

From the Associated Press: OCEAN CITY, Md. — The Route 90 bridge into Ocean City has reopened after being closed to all but emergency traffic as high winds and heavy rain intensify during the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.

The bridge closed at 5 p.m. Monday and reopened at 10 p.m.

Approximately 10 inches of rain is expected. That will result in severe flooding in low-lying areas, when combined with the storm and tidal surges.

For those residents and visitors who haven’t evacuated, the town’s emergency services officials are now advising them to shelter in place for the rest of the storm.

"An incredible day in meteorological history"

One of the strongest storms on record assaulted the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast Monday with historic coastal flooding, hurricane-force winds, unrelenting rain, and blinding mountain snow.

Greg Carbin of NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center called it “an incredible day in meteorological history” and produced this stunning animation of the storm’s voyage to landfall in Atlantic City:

(The animation displays the storm’s pressure field and offers a sense of storm’s sprawling expanse and remarkable depth.)

Sandy floods PATH stations in New Jersey

From the Associated Press: HOBOKEN, N.J. — Flooding from superstorm Sandy has been reported in PATH train stations in Hoboken and Jersey City along the Hudson River.

A surveillance camera inside the underground station in Hoboken captured water gushing in through an elevator door.

PATH officials say flooding has also occurred at the underground station at Exchange Place in Jersey City. They are not able to say how bad the flooding is.

PATH service between Manhattan and New Jersey has been suspended since midnight Sunday.

Official: Western Md. conditions 'terrible'

Snow continues to fall in western Maryland, where authorities say it’s coming down up to two inches an hour and as many as 24 inches of snow could accumulate.

The state’s Highway Administration said it has closed I-68, an interstate that runs into West Virginia, west of Cumberland.

“Conditions in Western Maryland are terrible right now,” said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters in the release.  “There are drivers stopped on I-68 waiting while crews clear disabled vehicles. 

“Emergency responders cleared an incident earlier just to face the same challenge a few miles away,” Peters continued. “We can’t say this any more clearly – do not drive tonight.  For those already out there, know we are doing our best to clear the problem.”

Peters is also asking motorists to refrain from driving Tuesday so road crews can complete work on the roadways.

 

Thundersnow in western Md., southwest Pa.

This storm has a little bit of everything.

WeatherBug chief meteorologist Mark Hoekzema emailed me the following: “Our total lightning network is picking up a good bit of lightning occurring in Western MD, SW PA, and north central WV. Extremely heavy snow falling above 2000 ft.”

He attached the above image which shows temperatures and precipitation. Where the subfreezing temperatures coincide with the pink shades, that is snow, some of it intense!

One to two feet of snow is forecast in western Maryland through Tuesday evening, and a blizzard warning is in  effect.

Maryland State Highway Administration Administrator Melinda B. Peters offered this description of the situation:

Conditions in Western Maryland are terrible right now. There are drivers stopped on I-68 waiting while crews clear disabled vehicles.  Emergency responders cleared an incident earlier just to face the same challenge a few miles away.  We can’t say this any more clearly – do not drive tonight.  For those already out there, know we are doing our best to clear the problem.

Waters surge into New York tunnels, subway stations

From the Associated Press: NEW YORK — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said waters have surged into two major commuter tunnels and into subway stations and tracks.

Spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and the Queens Midtown Tunnel had both had flooding. It was unclear how much water had come in.

The MTA also cut power to some subway tunnels in lower Manhattan, after water came into the stations and tracks.

Ortiz said the MTA couldn’t say at this point how much damage had been done, and how much time it would take to restore everything to normal.

From the Post: Many area businesses close early, others stay open

Here’s the Post’s story on how the Washington area business community girded for Sandy — from Jonathan O’Connell and Abha Bhattarai: “As Hurricane Sandy intensified Monday, many local businesses closed early or put in place emergency plans for workers even as others — grocers, hardware stores and some bars and restaurants — juggled an influx of hardy customers.”

Total Sandy power outages near 5M

From the Post’s Victor Zapana: The Associated Press reports that more than 4.6 million are without power because of Superstorm Sandy. Because the AP’s estimate does not include Maryland outages, we added figures from the Maryland Public Service Commission, which currently estimates that there are more than 350,000 customers without power. This means that at about 11:30 p.m. Monday, almost 5 million are without power.

Photos: Sandy swamps New York

Here’s a gallery of photos from New York City.

No injuries after tree falls across 3 homes in Southeast

From the Post’s Peter Hermann: D.C. firefighters rescued several people Monday night from three connected homes in Southeast after a large tree fell across them, a city official said.

The tree fell about 10 p.m., crashing into the occupied properties in the 2400 block of Good Hope Road. Mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said firefighters got all the residents out and were helping them find places to stay.

No injuries were reported.

In Northwest D.C., a standoff over a tree

From the Post’s Peter Hermann: On Tunlaw Road near the Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington, a tree threatened to fall on an empty house. D.C. firefighters responded about 9:15 p.m., noted the precarious situation, and watched.

Because the residents weren’t home, the tree was on private property and no lives were at stake, the firefighters needed the owner’s permission to take down the tree. That’s according to mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro, who said officials were trying to find the owners Monday night.

Meanwhile, the tree stands — barely — buffeted by high winds and rain from the departing storm that continues to unleash its havoc.

“We have to talk to the homeowners,” Ribeiro said. “The District isn’t going to go cut down a tree on private property.”

As of 11 p.m., the situation remained in a standoff.

Outage update: Households without power nearing 400K

From the Post’s Joe Stephens: Power failures continued to climb throughout the evening in the Washington-Baltimore area, with total outages reaching nearly 400,000 by 11 p.m. Monday. The problems were more severe in Northern Virginia and the Baltimore area, where major utilities said about 16 percent of customers were without lights.

Dominion Virginia Power reported that 133,000 homes and businesses had lost their electricity. Baltimore Gas & Electric reported 199,000 outages among its 1.2 million customers.

The Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, which serves about 142,000 customers around Manassas, was reporting that about 25,000 customers were without power.

The electrical grid fared better in the District and neighboring Maryland. Pepco reported that about 41,000 customers were suffering outages, or about 5 percent of homes and businesses.

The Post has an online chart of area outages.

Rain and wind outlook for rest of tonight

Post tropical storm Sandy – as of 11 p.m. – was positioned just north of Baltimore. It’s moving west and will continue to batter the region through the night. 

The most intense conditions will last for the next hour or two (through 1 a.m.).  Gradually through the night, winds will diminish and rain will become lighter.  However, bursts of heavier rain and wind remain possible into Tuesday morning.  A high wind watch and flood warning are in effect through the morning and new power outages are possible.

At 11 p.m., winds were sustained in the 30-35 mph with winds gusting to near 50 mph.

By 6 a.m., I suspect they’ll be closer to 25-30 mph, with gusts to 40-45 mph.

Rainfall totals through 11 p.m. were generally in the 3-6 inch range, with another 1 or so possible overnight.

It will be quite chilly into the morning, with temperatures in the 40s.

Lower Manhattan: flooding, hospital evacuations

(Bebeto Matthews /AP)

Water poured into parts of lower Manhattan Monday evening, as the New York MTA shut down all bridges and tunnels into Manhattan.

By late evening, Con Edison shut off electricity to residents in parts of downtown Manhattan as the rising surge flooded low lying neighborhoods around Battery Park City and the East Village. “Lights are on above 34th Street, not below… So eerie,” singer Roseanne Cash tweeted.

New York University Hospital had lost power and was being evacuated, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference Monday night.

Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted that there are reports of heavy volumes of water on West Street, so much so that cars are floating down the street. There are also reports that water is cascading into the south tube of the Holland Tunnel, the East River is running down 1st Avenue, and there is flooding in the Battery Tunnel.

MTA reported that up to four feet of seawater is entering subway tunnels under the East River. The MTA Twitter account also advised its followers that it would not be able to assess damage until Tuesday. “It is way too early for a subway reopening timetable,” @MTAInsider posted.

The storm hit New York at the same time as high tide came in, according to Wall Street Journal weather reporter Eric Holthaus. He reported the water level was at 13.8 feet, 2.3 feet above previous record, at 9 p.m.

Alissa Quinones, a 35 year old nursery school teacher who lives on the 33rd floor of a high rise in Battery Park City, decided to tough out the storm with her husband and two young children despite a mandatory evacuation order in her neighborhood.

Just after 9 p.m., Quinones said that the Hudson River park grounds below her building were inundated, as was a long stretch of the West Side Highway to the north. Remarkably, she said, her building, was largely unscathed.

“It flooded the grassy knoll of the park and the streets behind us,” she said, “but we are lucky: we haven’t lost power. I think we feel good: our windows are still rattling, we have floor to ceiling windows. Well be on high alert for a while, but were OK.”

Jared Roessler, who manages a film lighting company, did not fare so well. The surge waters conveyed a large contruction barricade through the front window of his shop, flooding the basement and leaving the first floor covered with water. “I’m standing in 32 inches of water,” he said.

Con Edison’s CEO told reporters earlier on Monday at the Mayor’s press conference that it ordered lights out for about 6,500 New Yorkers premptively to prevent damage both to our equipment and customers equipment.

(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

 

(Bebeto Matthews/AP)

 

(Bebeto Matthews /AP)

Elsewhere, the storm damaged buildings, including one 8th Avenue apartment whose facade was torn off by the high winds.

Some asked to evacuate Ellicott City

From the Post’s Peter Hermann: Howard County authorities are asking a handful of residents living along Ellicott City’s historic Main Street to leave their apartments, fearing the Patapsco River could overflow its banks by 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Officials visited people living in five apartments on the north side of the 8000 block of Main Street and handed out “recommended evacuation notices,” said a spokeswoman for the county, Kathy Sloan-Beard.

She said residents are being urged to leave. “About half the people answered the door,” Sloan-Beard said. “The other half either weren’t home or decided to leave already.”

The spokeswoman said that a gauge that monitors spots along the Patapsco River set off a “yellow alert,” indicating that minor flooding is possible. “If the rate of rainfall continues the way it is happening now, we are predicting the water will reach the door sills of those apartments by 3 a.m.”

All the apartments are above storefronts and the water would reach the doors leading to the upstairs living spaces.

What Sloan-Beard said is unknown is if the water could rise any further after 3 a.m. which could flood the stores on the ground level. And if the water does rise as predicted, she said, “we’re going to have to close the lower end of Main Street to vehicular traffic because of standing water.”

Tree falls on 9 vehicles in Oxon Hill parking lot

From the Post’s Peter Hermann: A large tree fell on fell on nine vehicles Monday night in a parking lot at an apartment complex in Oxon Hill, damaging some significantly, according to the Prince George’s County Fire Department.

Mark Brady, a spokesman for the agency, said the tree fell about 9:30 p.m. at the Glassmanor Apartment building in the 1300 block of Southview Drive.

“Due to the saturation of the ground and the high winds, it fell,” Brady said.

All the vehicles were unoccupied and no injuries were reported, Brady said, adding that it was one of many calls county firefighters responded to Monday that involved downed trees and wires, small fires caused by electrical shorts sparked by water leaking into homes and a ceiling collapse.

“We’ve been very busy,” Brady said.

Outage update: About 361K households without power in Washington-Baltimore area

From the Post’s Joe Stephens: At 10 p.m., a growing number of homes were continuing to go dark in Northern Virginia and the Baltimore area, where the major power companies reported that about 15 percent of their customers had no electricity.

Neighborhoods were considerably brighter in the District and the neighboring parts of Maryland that are served by Pepco, where only about 3 percent of customers were without power. Pepco, which in December was fined a record $1 million by Maryland regulators, has said it has been working aggressively to improve its reliability.  

Dominion Virginia Power reported that more than 126,000 homes and businesses had lost their electricity. That’s about one out of every seven customers.

Baltimore Gas & Electric also reported increasing outages, with its outage total hitting 195,000. That was a substantial increase from the 84,000 outages reported three hours earlier. BGE serves 1.2 million customers.

Pepco reported that about 21,000 customers were suffering outages, or about one out of every 37 customers. Hard-hit neighborhoods included Gaithersburg, Georgetown and Columbia Heights.

Outage numbers for Pepco were 5,000 in D.C., 11,000 in Montgomery County, and 5,000 in Prince George’s.

The Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, which serves about 142,000 customers around Manassas, was reporting that about 19,000 customers were without power, or about 14 percent.

The Post has an online chart of area outages.

Capital Weather Watchers reporting from D.C. region

The Capital Weather Gang’s Weather Watchers have been filing reports from around the D.C. region since the first storm forecasts.  You can follow them on Twitter, where they’ve been posting information, photos and videos from across the East Coast. 

FDR Drive in New York City

FDR Drive in New York City

 

  

Leesburg water system working as normal, town officials say

From the Post’s Caitlin Gibson: Circulating accounts reporting that the Leesburg water system is experiencing problems due to Sandy are not correct, Leesburg officials said Monday night. The town’s water system was functioning normally as of 10 p.m., according to officials.

In D.C., isolated flooding

WTOP’s Mark Segraves posted this image on his Twitter account.

 

Flooding in Manhattan: audio report

The Post’s Colum Lynch says that the situation is deteriorating in New York. Much of the Westside Highway is underwater, as well as the promenade at Battery Park.

Listen:

What to expect for Tuesday's weather


With the superstorm threatening the East Coast with up to 11-foot waves and shutting down businesses, roadways, public transit and even the New York Stock Exchange, The Capital Weather Gang?s Jason Samenow stops by to give us the latest.

Washington National Cathedral closes Tuesday

Reagan National Airport gusts to 60 mph

Some of the storm’s strongest winds are affecting the D.C. metro region now (10 p.m.).  The surge in wind speeds is resulting in increasing power outages.  Our D.C. area outage tracker indicates about 180,000 customers without power in the region.

Other wind reports at 10 p.m.: Dulles airport sustained at 32 mph, gusting to 54 mph; BWI airport 33 mph, gusting to 49 mph.

We are currently in the period of the storm’s strongest winds which should continue through around midnight, although some high gusts are possible into Tuesday morning.

 

More Damage in New York City

The storm damage was captured on social media. Instagram user GeorgeWeld sent out this image of what appears to be an electrical explosion in New York City.

UPDATE: Trillian media appears to have captured video of the explosion:

World Trade Center flooded

(AP)

Report: Sandy damages USA Today sign

From the Associated Press: MCLEAN, Va. — Superstorm Sandy has knocked off the capital ‘A’ from the USA Today newspaper sign at its headquarters in McLean.

The letter came down Monday afternoon when heavy winds from former Hurricane Sandy were blowing ashore.

A newspaper spokeswoman says the letter fell on the headquarters’ lawn and has been recovered.

No one was injured.

Scenes from the Pepco command center


George Nelson, VP for Operations and Engineering at Pepco Holdings, manages the staff on Monday at the Pepco command center
in Rockville, Md.

Napolitano reaches out to officials after Sandy makes landfall

From the Post’s Ed O’Keefe: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano spoke Monday evening with the governors of North Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and the mayor of Atlantic City as Sandy began to make landfall there, according to department officials.

Napolitano’s outreach comes as President Obama has signed federal emergency declarations for eight states and the District of Columbia, permitting state officials to begin making requests for federal assistance, including manpower and equipment, as the storm makes landfall.

Later, Obama may be asked to issue federal disaster declarations, which would turn on the federal spigot and begin releasing hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in federal aid and supplies to affected areas.

Outages, flooding across Maryland: O'Malley

From the Post’s Aaron Davis: Residents of Crisfield in the state’s southeastern corner are stranded in the dark, some sheltering on the second floor of homes flooded with five feet or more of water, said Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

On the opposite side of the state, a blizzard has caused whiteout conditions and contributed to a pileup of four tractor-trailers on Interstate 68.

Statewide, more than 280,000 Marylanders were without electricity as of 9 p.m. As stronger bands of wind and rain reached the state’s northeast corner, outages were expected to multiply quickly. 

More than 60 percent of residents in Cecil and Harford counties are without electricity, state emergency officials said. The outages were expected to intensify toward Baltimore in coming hours.

Some of the state’s most dire conditions, however, remained in Crisfield, in Somerset County. Electricity had been cutoff entirely to the city, and National Guard and swift water rescue teams were evacuating more than 100 residents to shelters.

Crisfield, which fancies itself the “crab capital of the world,” is the state’s southernmost town. It is located on the Eastern Shore and is the site of an annual seafood festival that draws thousands.

Countywide, more than 80 percent of residents were destined to spend the night in the dark.

O’Malley warned residents that the next 12 hours would bring the storm’s worst wind and rain.

“The eye of the storm is going to be coming right across Maryland now,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley said the state has 24 critical care facilities now on generator power, including two hospitals.

Maryland’s National Guard is also actively working 25 missions statewide, most involve using Humvees or other military carriers to help emergency workers pass flooded roads.

 

Baltimore sets record low barometric pressure

The 9 p.m. barometric pressure at Baltimore Washington International Airport dropped to 965.7 mb, below the previous record of 965.9 mb established during the March 13 superstorm of 1993.

The lower the pressure, the more powerful the storm as a rule of thumb.

The pressure wasn’t the only impressive weather reading in Baltimore at 9 p.m. It reported a sustained wind of 40 mph, gusting to 59 mph!

In Fairfax County, tree crashes into home

Victor Zapana reports:

Photo courtesy of Renee Dondes

Renee Dondes, 43, of Fairfax County, sent us this picture of a tree that crashed into her neighbor’s house Monday morning.

The 100-foot-tall tree shaved off the chimney top, which crashed into Dondes’ fence.

No one is hurt, and her neighbors were not in the home, according to Dondes.

She added that many of her neighbors purchased homes in the neighborhood in part because they adored the old, majestic-looking trees.

She said she plans on having someone  inspect the trees after the storm.

Reported by 

Over 263K households without power after 9 p.m.

From the Post’s Joe Stephens: At 9 p.m., electrical outages were continuing to grow in Northern Virginia and the Baltimore area, where power companies reported that about 12 percent of their customers — about 263,700 were in the dark.

But in the District and the neighboring parts of Maryland served by Pepco, only about 2 percent of customers were without power — a welcome change for communities that have long complained about Pepco’s reputation for unreliability.

Dominion Virginia Power reported that more than 103,000 homes and businesses had lost their electricity. That represents roughly one out of every eight customers.

Baltimore Gas & Electric, also reported increasing outages, with its outage total hitting 157,000. That was a substantial increase from the 84,000  reported just two hours earlier. BGE serves 1.2 million customers.   

Pepco reported that about 17,000 customers were suffering outages — a thousand fewer than had been sitting in the dark two hours earlier. Hardest hit neighborhoods included Petworth, Columbia Heights and Bethesda. Outage numbers for Pepco were 3,900 in D.C., 9,400 in Montgomery County, and 3,700 in Prince George’s.

Across the Northeast, the total number of outages is approaching 3 million.

145,000 in D.C. area without power

Millions of Americans were without power Monday evening from Hurricane Sandy, including more than 145,000 homes and businesses in the Washington area, mostly in Northern Virginia.

The biggest power outages nationwide have been reported in New York City, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

At 8:15 p.m., data show more than 122,000 Northern Virginia customers without power, including many of the Clarendon area. More than 21,000 homes and businesses from Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s counties were without power and more than 3,100 in the District. High winds Monday evening prompted Pepco to pull back its above-ground repair crews in Maryland and the District. 

Baltimore Gas & Electric reported 84,393 outages, many of them concentrated in Baltimore County.

The Washington-area numbers pale compared to areas in the Northeast. Overall, more than 2.8 million homes and businesses in 11 states were without power, CNN reported. 

The Post’s Joe Stephens contributed to this report.

Md. Weather Watchers report from Nanjemoy, Poolesville

From the Post’s Emma Brown: Some residents are saying that Sandy isn’t packing the punch they had expected.

“That’s good for us,” said Michael Strain of low-lying Nanjemoy, Md., in Charles County.

Strain said winds were growing calmer late Monday night. Nearly 3 inches of rain fell between midnight and 9 pm, said Strain, who volunteers as a Weather Watcher for the Capital Weather Gang. And while the rain was steady, it wasn’t overwhelming — it was falling at .13 inches per hour late Monday night.

“I’ve been watching the radar off and on, it’s almost like it’s fizzling,” Strain said. “Unless something happens in the next hour or two, then I think it’s about done.”

Another Weather Watcher, in Poolesville, said that lights flickered on and off for about 15 seconds in the early evening, triggering a flash of panicked posts to a Facebook page for city residents.

“Almost every street in town, there was a report that lights were flickering,” he said. “We’re getting quite a blow out here.”

More than four inches of rain have fallen in Poolesville since 8 a.m. Sunday, he said, and  many residents are counting on their sump pumps to keep their houses dry.

Metro closed on Tuesday morning only

Lori Aratani reports:

In Washington, Metrorail and bus service is suspended for Tuesday morning — not the entire day. There is a possibility that some service may resume later in the day on Tuesday but officials can’t say for certain. They will do inspections in the morning.

Metro Access service, however, is suspended for all of Tuesday.

Customers are encouraged to sign up for MetroAlerts for information regarding restoration of service as it is known.

Whipping winds on D.C.'s waterfront


While some work hard to prepare for Sandy’s arrival, others enjoy taking in the sights at Georgetown’s waterfront.

The coming threat: major Potomac River flooding

The massive amount of water falling from the sky today will eventually flow into the Potomac River and produce flooding like we haven’t seen in years, says the National Weather Service:

RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES ALONG THE POTOMAC RIVER FROM HANCOCK DOWNSTREAM TO AND INCLUDING WASHINGTON DC SHOULD PREPARE FOR A FLOOD NOT SEEN SINCE THE FLOODS OF 1996. THE ONLY LIMITING FACTOR IN NOT REACHING THE AGNES FLOOD OF 1972 IS THE LIMITING CONTRIBUTION OF THE SHENANDOAH RIVER FOR THIS EVENT…AS THE GREATEST RAINFALL HAS FALLEN NORTH OF THE SHENANDOAH BASIN.

On timing of the flooding it says:

RIVER FLOODING IS EXPECTED BEGINNING LATE THIS EVENING AND LASTING THROUGH MUCH OF THE WEEK AHEAD. THE WORST CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED ALONG THE MAINSTEM POTOMAC WHERE MAJOR FLOODING IS EXPECTED WEDNESDAY INTO THURSDAY.

Pepco to send crews back out

Post reporters are now hearing that Pepco, which about two hours ago pulled its work crews back to staging areas because of storm winds, was preparing to send them back out at about 8:45 p.m. Monday. For safety reasons, the power utility’s crews can only work when wind speeds are below 35 mph.

All MTA bridges and tunnels closed to traffic

The MTA just tweeted that the Queens Midtown Tunnel is now closed. See the status of New York MTA service here.

Pepco to send work crews back out

Post reporters are now hearing that Pepco, which about two hours ago pulled its work crews back to staging areas because of storm winds, was preparing to send them back out at about 8:45 p.m. Monday. For safety reasons, the power utility’s crews can only work when wind speeds are below 35 mph.

Prince George's government, schools closed Tuesday

Miranda Spivack reports: Prince George’s officials announced that the county government, public schools, courts and park and planning departments all will be closed Tuesday because of weather conditions.

The also are expected to announce that The Bus, the bus system operated by the county, will not operate.

Residents can get updates and report non-emergency problems to the county’s 311 system by either dialing 311 or by going online here.

Meanwhile, in Fairfax County is maintaining a Tumblr with all Road Closures here.

See a full list of closings in the Washington region here.

Live video of NYC's dangling crane

Earlier today, the wind snapped a crane atop a 70-story building being built at 157 W. 57th Street in Manhattan. Here is live video. Buildings around it have been evacuated.

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/cvplive/cvpstream2&hpt=hp_c2#/video/cvplive/cvpstream2

Here’s a picture from earlier today:

Crane dangling from the top of One 57, a $1.5 billion luxury apartment high-rise at 157 W. 57th Street in Manhattan.

Md. Gov. O'Malley provides update

Gov. Martin O’Malley will hold a press conference at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to provide an update on Hurricane Sandy at 9:30 p.m.  Monday, according to a press release.

 

 

Are nuclear plants prepared for extended outages?

 

A Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) worker explains to journalists the current situation of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture February 28, 2012.

We’ve known for days that Sandy was coming, and electric companies have said they brought in extra crews to deal with the aftermath. But the Christian Science Monitor looks at how the nuclear power plants on the East Coast have prepared, particularly in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima meltdown, and whether they have sufficient back-up power to cool the fuel rods in an extended outage. Some say they don’t. In case you needed something else to worry about.

Here’s the story. The nuclear stuff is on page 2.

In Pr. George's, severe damage

The storm is causing increasingly severe damage in Prince George’s County, though fire officials say it has still injured no one there.

Four trees or large branches have toppled onto houses in the Laurel area, and one home at 7008 Contee Road was deemed too unsafe to let the residents stay, authorities said.

At 12207 Westview Drive in Upper Marlboro, a ceiling collapsed — possibly from water damage, fire officials said.

Reported by The Washington Post’s Matt Zapotosky

Sandy makes landfall in Atlantic City, New Jesey

At 8 p.m. the National Hurricane Center announced Sandy had officially made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.

Tree crashes into Montclair home

Photo taken by Kiernan Jordan


In Prince William County, a 70-foot-tall tree crashed into the living room of a two-floor split-level house in the 3800-block of Dalebrook Drive.

A family with two daughters was in the house at the time, but neighbors said no one was hurt. The family is now at a hotel, said Amy Jordan, an elementary school principal who lives across the street.

Jordan said she heard a crash around 5 p.m. and ran outside with her son to see the tree “slice the house in half.” The trees in the neighborhood are old, and neighbors have been watching them over the last few hours, Jordan said. She said that because of the incident, she would be sleeping in the basement.

“It was really quite frightening because you literally could see right inside the house,” Jordan said.

Jessica Silcox, a nurse who lives across from Jordan, said she was making fun of her mother for preparing for the storm. Over the course of two days, the mother, Judith, prepared three-days worth of pasta salad and purchased 30 bottles of water. But after witnessing the fallen tree, Silcox is glad her family is prepared.

“It made everyone take the storm a little bit more seriously,” she said.

Reported by The Washington Post’s Victor Zapana

D.C. region power outages

The Post’s Joe Stephens reports:

At 7 p.m. in the Washington region, power outages were hitting residents of Northern Virginia the hardest.

Dominion Virginia Power reported that more than 74,800 homes and businesses had lost their electricity, especially residents near Clarendon.

Customers of Pepco, which serves D.C. and its Maryland suburbs, were faring much better.

While Pepco has been criticized as unreliable, the company reported that just 15,000 customers had lost power — down from 18,000 an hour earlier. Hardest hit areas appeared to be around College Park and southern sections of the District.

Baltimore Gas & Electric reported 84,393 outages, many of them concentrated in Baltimore County.

FEMA, federal partners mobilize resources

At the direction of President Obama, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating the federal government’s assistance and preparations to support states affected by Sandy.

Today, the president received a briefing on the storm in the White House Situation Room, including an update on the deployment of teams and resources to potentially affected areas by Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Fugate, Transportation Secretary Lahood, Energy Secretary Chu and National Hurricane Center Director Richard Knabb.

The Post’s Ed O’Keefe reports:

Hurricane Sandy’s battering of the East Coast is expected to produce historic rainfall totals and cause billions of dollars in damage and wholesale disruptions to the close presidential race. The storm could also provide a moment of sharp contrast between President Obama and Mitt Romney and how their different ideas of governing apply to the federal response to large-scale disasters.

 

 The full story is here.

Internet flooded with fake Sandy photos

Pardon the pun, but Instagram is being flooded with photos of Hurricane Sandy.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom told Poynter, “There are now 10 pictures per second being posted with the hashtag #sandy — most are images of people prepping for the storm and images of scenes outdoors.”

But a few of the photos being posted seem…off. That’s because a few users are taking their favorite weather scenes from popular movies and photos of past to create their own version of what Sandy looks like.  Here are a few:

An image of waves crashing against the Statue of Liberty was taken directly from “The Day After Tomorrow.”

A supposed photo of Sandy approaching the Brooklyn Bridge is really a stock photo of the George Washington Bridge from 2009. 

And a photo of a storm brewing behind the Statue of Liberty was really taken in 2010, according to Snopes.

The photo that made the most waves, though, was an image of the Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The Washington Post was among the sites that mistakenly published the September photo online as an event occurring during the Sandy storm.

White House protester remains despite Sandy

Credit: Gabe Silverman / The Washington Post

Water levels climb to record heights in New Jersey, New York

Water levels at the Battery in New York City  and Sandy Hook in New Jersey have reached record high levels this evening.

At the Battery, the level has reached 11.25 feet, surpassing the all-time record of 11.2 feet in 1821 (source the Weather Channel). The level is still rising.

At Sandy Hook in northern New Jersey, the level has exceeded 12 feet, shattering the record of 10.1 feet set in 1960 during Hurricane Donna and also in December 1992.

Severe coastal flooding is resulting from these record water levels.

(Note: these water level are a result of a combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide, sometimes referred to as storm tide)

Charts courtesy NOAA

Con Ed shutting off power in Lower Manhattan

Michael Bloomberg: Partial crane collapse evacuations

New York City engineers and fire department inspectors plan to climb 74 flights of stairs to examine a Manhattan construction crane that’s dangling from a luxury high-rise as Sandy approaches. Credit: The Associated Press

Building facade collapses in New York

The New York Fire Department tweeted that it was responding to an alarm for a multiple-dwelling building collapse on 8th Avenue. New Yorker Dave Kush tweeted out what he said is a before-and-after shot:

(@LuckyLeftyArt via Instagram)

VIDEO: Chris Christie blames Atlantic City mayor for stranded people in Atlantic City

On Monday night, Gov. Chris Christie says some people are stranded in Atlantic City and he’s blaming the mayor. Christie says Mayor Lorenzo Langford erred by allowing people to shelter on the barrier island rather than moving them inland.

Capital Bikeshare closed Tuesday

Due to Sandy’s high winds, Capital Bikeshare will remain closed on Tuesday, according to an email sent to its members. 

An announcement on when the bikes will be available again will follow after weather conditions improve, according to the company.

Loudoun County government closed Tuesday

Loudoun County officials announced that the county government offices will be closed Tuesday due to Hurricane Sandy. The Loudoun County Circuit Court and the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s offices will also be closed. 

In addition, the Loudoun commuter bus service and the Tyson’s Express bus service will not operate on Tuesday, officials said.

 

Report by Caitlin Gibson

Sandy no longer a hurricane

Sandy is very close to making landfall – and – while approaching the shore – has lost tropical characteristics according to the National Hurricane Center.  It is no longer a hurricane.

Its strengthening phase has also ended, as maximum sustained winds have declined from 90 to 85 mph, and its central pressure has climbed to 946 mb from 940 mb.  Nevertheless, this remains a very intense storm and its impacts remain severe, and will for some time.

The Weather Channel says it is now calling Sandy “Superstorm Sandy”

Weather reporters get face full of Sandy

Storm after storm TV weather reporters brave treacherous winds and rain to show viewers exactly why they shouldn’t be at the beach ….  while standing on a beach. 

In an attempt to find out why these reporters put themselves directly in a hurricane’s path, Erik Wemple spoke with David Verdi, the Senior Vice President of Worldwide Nnewsgathering at NBC News: 

“[Verdi] explains the imperative behind the staple — some would call it “cliché” — of the windswept beach live shot: “The reason we’re on beaches and boardwalks is twofold: One is to convey the seriousness and two, because it hits the beach first,” says Verdi. “That’s the reason we go into war zones and go to special events and places to where we can gain access to places that regular people cannot.”

So, in other words, don’t expect to stop seeing images like these anytime soon:

— Joe 6#$%0 (@OffTheBooksFlow) October 29, 2012

In D.C. region, Pepco crews halted

The Post’s Annys Shin reports:

Tropical storm winds have forced Pepco crews back to staging areas in
Rockville and the District.

Pepco ordered its above-ground power line crews to take shelter, as the
Washington region began to feel the full force of Hurricane Sandy.

For safety reasons, the power utility’s crews can only work when wind
speeds are below 35 mph.

As of 6: 30 pm, more than 19000 Pepco customers had lost power.

The utility will have to wait until winds die down before starting damage
assessments, Pepco officials said. The earliest opportunity could come
sometime tomorrow. It may take more than a week for Pepco to fully restore
power, they said.

Pepco Holdings Inc., Pepco’s parent company, has requested 3700 additional workers to help restore power in the
days following the storm. So far, it has commitments for 1600.

Because of Hurricane Sandy is affecting much of the Northeastern seaboard,
crews have been called in from as far as Washington state, New Mexico, and
Iowa.

 

Sandy closes Md. casinos

The Post’s John Wagner reports that as of 6 p.m., all three of Maryland’s casinos are closed due to the Hurricane Sandy, including its largest, Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County.

Montgomery fatality was storm-related, state says

The Post’s Michael Laris and Aaron C. Davis report:

A Montgomery County woman was killed in a head-on collision near Clarksburg Monday morning, and Maryland’s state medical examiner has ruled the death storm related.

“If not for the storm” the accident would not have occurred, said David Fowler, the state’s medical examiner. Montgomery police were more cautious, saying it’s possible the storm played a role.

Mai Ai Lam-Phan, 66, of Clarksburg, was driving north on Frederick Road when a Nissan heading southbound crossed the center line and ran into her Jaguar, police said. They responded at 11:38 a.m. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and the Nissan’s driver, a 19-year-old Germantown man, and his passenger, were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

 “Witnesses reported that there was water covering the roadway at that time and on that portion of 355,” said Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery police spokesman. “Those conditions were present. Whether they had anything to do with the collision or not is still under investigation.”

The investigation will take weeks, Starks said.

This post has been updated.

Frankenstorm.com can be yours

The domain name Frankenstorm.com is still up for grabs, thanks to hosting site GoDaddy.com.Two bidders are currently in contention in the auction which is open until 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Any meme followers shocked at the availability of such valuable Internet real estate will be relieved to know Frankenstorm Twitter handles were snatched up long ago. There’s @A_Frankenstorm, not to be confused with @Stormenstein or @Snoreastercane, a.k.a. Sandy Frankenstorm. 

The moniker is only one in a veritable ‘foul-weather lexicon’ to pop up in the wake of the hurricane, writes Style reporter Emily Wax.

Storm cliches and neologisms are a way of trying to assert a sense of control, when in fact we are vulnerable to the large and indifferent forces of nature.

For those trying to make light of the storm, there’s the possibility of “Frankenstorm babies,” with so many couples stuck indoors; or “storm diets,” for those who replaced their wimpy-weather salads with hearty, Charles “Pa” Ingalls-style meals fixed at home.

 Read the rest of Wax’s story here.

 

Reagan National Airport gusts to 58 mph

Since 6 p.m., Reagan National Airport reported a 58 mph gust, its highest so far.

Here are some additional peak gusts reported by the National Weather Service:

* 70 MPH WIND GUST AT BISHOPS HEAD MARYLAND AT 340 PM.
* 68 MPH WIND GUST AT POINT LOOKOUT MARYLAND AT 520 PM.
* 60 MPH WIND GUST AT ORIOLE PARK IN BALTIMORE MARYLAND AT 500 PM.
* 56 MPH WIND GUST AT PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION AT 248 PM.
* 55 MPH WIND GUST AT THOMAS POINT LIGHT ON THE CHESAPEAKE BAY AT
  4:00 PM.
* 55 MPH WIND GUST AT REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT AT 549 PM.
* 47 MPH WIND GUST AT MARSHALL BWI AIRPORT AT 118 PM.

 Here are some peak gusts from the WeatherBug network in Virginia and Maryland.

MTA suspends all service Tuesday

If you were looking forward to returning to work or school tomorrow, I have news for you.

For a second day, MARC Train, Local Bus, Metro Subway, Light Rail, Commuter Bus and Mobility/Paratransit are suspended Tuesday morning.

VIDEO: West Virginia blizzard warning in effect

In Pr. George's, trees fall

The Post’s Matt Zapotosky reports:

The storm has begun to intensify in Prince George’s County, toppling one large tree into a house at 4613 Clemson St. in College Park and sending another crashing into a car near 23rd Parkway and Fairlawn Street in the Hillcrest Heights area, authorities said.

No one has been injured yet because of any storm-related incidents, though the winds are beginning to pick up, said Mark Brady, a Prince George’s County Fire/Department spokesman. “I still think we’re just at the brink of starting to be busy,” Brady said.

 

 

Prime time for strongest winds begins

At 6 p.m., Reagan National Airport clocked a wind gust to 55 mph, its strongest so far.  Winds will be strongest in the region for the next 6 to 12 hours, when gusts over 60 mph and up to 80 mph (mainly east of the District) are possible. 

We continue to get reports of fallen tree.  Here’s one from reader Samantha Friedman (who took the photo below) from Cathedral Ave. NW (just east of the intersection with Connecticut Ave. NW):

A huge tree in my front yard just fell down, across my front yard, the neighbors’ front yard, across Cathedral Ave and hit a car. My boyfriend’s car is parked two cars in front of the one that got hit. Luckily, no houses or porches or people got hit. We are incredibly lucky.

Carbon monoxide dangers

If you are one of the lucky ones who has a generator, you might want to read these tips from the Virginia Department of Emergency.

Arlington County Government closed Tuesday

The latest in closings news, Arlington County announces that its government, courts and schools will be closed Tuesday.

 

For a list of the latest closings click here.

Mongomery Parks will be closed Tuesday

The Montgomery County Department of Parks will close all park facilities on Tuesday, as well as cancelling classes and programs. The department is urging residents to avoid parks and report downed trees or other maintenance issues by calling 301-670-8080, or submitting an online form here.

For a list of the latest closures in your area, click here.

Refineries shut down or cut back production; oil prices fall

(Cars.com)

Some of the nation’s largest oil refineries are reducing production due to an anticipated fall in demand. 

The Associated Press reports that Phillips 66 shut down its refinery in Linden, New Jersey. The refinery is the second largest in the Northeast, producing 285,000 barrels a day. The largest refinery, Philadelphia Energy Solutions is nearly closed. And Bloomberg’s Aaron Clark reports that Hess was scheduled to complete shutdown of its plant in Port Reading, NJ this afternoon. 

As the storm makes its way through the nation’s most populous region it’s expected that downed power lines and flooding will lead to a record drop in demand for perhaps days, that’s according to Phil Flynn, a senior analys for Price Futures Group. 

Oil prices fell in reaction to the storm. The AP reports that crude oil dropped below $86 a barrel Monday.

(AP, Bloomberg)

Evacuations in Fairfax's Huntington area

The Post’s Corinne Reilly reports:

Fairfax County has ordered its first evacuations in the flood-prone Huntington area.

Residents on two streets, Arlington Terrace and Fenwick Drive, are being told to get out immediately. Two homes on Farrington Avenue are also under evacuation orders, county officials said.

Police and firefighters will begin going door to door by 6 p.m., and utilities will be shut off soon after, said Capt. Kendall Thompson, with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. He said the order could widen to include all of Farrington Avenue as well as neighboring streets.

A bus is on its way to evacuate residents without cars. Those with nowhere else to go are being directed to a county shelter at the Lee District RECenter, 6601 Telegraph Road, Alexandria. Pets are allowed.

Although residents hoped to avoid evacuations, many were anticipating the order, as the neighborhood has flooded repeatedly in recent years. The streets in Huntington aren’t under water yet, but they are widely expected to flood in the coming hours. Many residents spent the day emptying their basements and preparing to leave.

“The water is rising,” Thompson said. “This is the time for folks to get out.”

Rainfall totals reach 2.5 to 4 inches in D.C. region

Through 5 p.m., rainfall totals have climbed to 2.61 inches at Reagan National Airport, 2.64 inches at Dulles and 3.8 inches at BWI.  Reagan National is very closing to passing its record for the date of 2.69 inches.  Dulles and BWI have both blown by their daily records.

West of the Chesapeake Bay, the highest totals of 4-6 inches have occurred in Anne Arundel and Calvert counties (right along the Bay).

As of 5:30 p.m., the region was covered in moderate to heavy rain (see radar snapshot to the right, click to enlarge), with band after band cycling through from east to west.

Contemplating 'The Big One'

Earlier today, the Post’s Joel Achenbach posted a contemplative essay on Hurricane Sandy and ‘The Big One:’

The Big One is always out there somewhere. Maybe not as far away as we’d like.

At a funeral no one ever talks about how much money the deceased made. No one ever talks about awards, honors, test scores, the size of the person’s house. People talk about the small gestures and friendship and love and the way the person could be counted on in the clutch.

When times get a little difficult – say, a major storm blowing in – we all have a chance to be at our best.

 The torrential rain and looming power outages have inspired the linguistic side of reader Randy Bosin, of Chevy Chase, Md., as well. He shared his storm-inspired poetry with us that said, in part:

Better be ready for days in the dark
This one ain’t gonna be no lark
So hope you have an emergency plan
And enjoy the light while you still can
Before you’re stuck in the dark and the cold
Which after a few days will get very old
And pray the power will be restored
Before we all die of being so bored!

 Has Sandy inspired your creative side? Share your storm experience, poems or photos here.

D.C. parking enforcement, garbage collection suspended

“No meters. No residential. No rush hour,” says Linda Grant, spokeswoman for D.C.’s Department of Public Works.

Also, no trash or recycling collection, she says.

U.S. Capitol and visitor center to close Tuesday

The U.S. Capitol and Capitol Visitor Center will be closed Tuesday. All scheduled tours have been suspended. Updated information will be posted on the visitor center’s Web site and Twitter feed (@visitthecapitol).

A man rides his bicycle on the deserted Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington DC, October 29, 2012. (MLADEN ANTONOV / Getty Images)

Tips for traveling after Sandy

Did Hurricane Sandy ruin your travel plans? Read this post to find out what to do when the storm passes.

Metro to remain closed Tuesday

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will suspend Metrorail and Metrobus service through Tuesday morning. Metro will announce when service will be restored after personnel have had a chance to perform damage assessments on all tracks.

WMATA is encouraging riders to sign up for Metro alerts for more service information.

Hurricane Sandy landfall in next two hours in southern New Jersey

At 5 p.m. Sandy was just 40 miles south of Atlantic City, moving west northwest at 28 mph.  Landfall should occur in south Jersey or on the very northern part of the Delmarva peninsula by 7 p.m.

Maximum sustained winds remain 90 mph and the minimum central pressure in 940 mb, which ranks among the lowest readings on record north of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

D.C. region schools closed Tuesday

American University just announced on its Twitter page that it will close on Tuesday.

 

To find out if your school is closed Tuesday follow this link.

VIDEO: Rogue wave takes out camera in Ocean City, Md.

Mandatory evacuation order in NYC, but some are refusing to leave

There is a mandatory evacuation order for parts of New York City, but not everyone is heeding the warning. 

“I don’t feel the necessity to leave. I have food, I have water, I have my kids and I have my dog all next to me, so that’s the safest place to be,” said an unidentified woman during a CBS News interview in lower Manhattan. There is a mandatory evacuation order for 375,000 in the city, but state and local officials cannot force people to leave their homes.

(CBS)

D.C. Courts closed Tuesday

The District of Columbia Courts will be closed Tuesday but emergency personnel are on standby, according to court officials. If the Metro is running, The Superior Court will hold adult arraignment and new referrals.

Delaware police patrol photos capture Dewey Beach roads under water

Dewey Beach in Delware is under water.

Don’t just take our word for it – Dewey Beach Police Chief Sam Markett sent out photos of the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, taken by police personnel on patrol utilizing Humvees.  The photos were taken Monday morning, and Markett warns us to remember that conditions are to “only get worse.”

 

Taken of Bellevue Ave bayside; Credit: Dewey Beach Police Department

 

“Taken at Route One just south of Dewey. Indian River Bridge is closed until at least after the storm.” – Mayor Diane Hanson; Credit: Dewey Beach Police Department

 

“Read St. bayside. The gray building in the background is the backside of our town hall.” – Mayor Diane Hanson; Credit: Dewey Beach Police Department

 

Taken of Rodney Street bayside; Credit: Dewey Beach Police Department

 

Flooding creeps up a house and car in Dewey; Credit: Dewey Beach Police Department

VIDEO: Coast Guard rescues passengers off HMS Bounty

Sandy derails White House race

The Post’s Jerry Markon and Karen Tumulty report:

Hurricane Sandy upended the closely fought presidential campaign only eight days before election day on Monday, as President Obama and Mitt Romney canceled campaign events, ripped up their schedules and tried to juggle the tricky politics of dealing with the storm.

The full story is here.

The REAL Sandy: Space station makes second pass over storm

There are a lot of fake Sandy photos roaming the Internet. More on that later…

In the meantime, this video from NASA was taken Monday from the International Space Station as it made its second pass over the Atlantic Ocean. At the time the video was taken, NASA reports that Sandy had sustained winds of 90 miles per hour.

(NASA)

NYSE and Nasdaq will be closed Tuesday, too

An empty NYSE floor on Monday. The NYSE is scheduled to remain closed Tuesday as well. (Richard Drew/AP)

Sandy is already making history on Wall Street.

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which is closed today, will also be closed Tuesday the Associated Press reports. This will be the first time since 1888 that the NYSE has been closed for two consecutive days. The previous instance was due to snow. The NYSE has been closed since then due to weather, the last time as a result of Hurricane Gloria in 1985. 

The area around the financial district was part of New York City’s mandatory evacuation zone, with water already making its way over seawalls along southern Manhattan. Both the NYSE and the Nasdaq are closed today. It is anticipated both will open on Wednesday.

CME Group’s electronic markets remained open, although its trading floor was closed. No word yet as to whether CME will remain closed Tuesday as well, the AP reports.

Sandy has also delayed quarterly earnings reports, including for Pfizer and Thomson Reuters. 

(AP)

 

Delaware beaches: 'like a sewer backing up'

The Post’s Susan Svrluga reports:

The bay side of Dewey Beach had begun flooding Monday afternoon, and waves on the ocean side had come right up to the dunes, Mayor Diane Hanson said.

“It’s only a matter of time at this point — the ocean will breach the dunes. The storm hasn’t even hit yet,” the mayor said.

The town, a skinny strip of sand along Route 1, emptied out Sunday after the governor issued a mandatory evacuation order for all areas within three-quarters of a mile of ocean beach, bay front and other flood-prone areas by 8 p.m.

At 6 p.m. Sunday, police in Dewey Beach went to the restaurants and ordered them closed, but the tens of thousands of tourists who had filled restaurants and bars over the weekend for Rehoboth Beach’s Sea Witch festival had for the most part already gone home. Those who were left sat with candles and flashlights and watched the water.

“In a storm like this, if there are strong winds from the east the tide goes into the bay and the wind’s so strong the tide can’t get out,” Hanson said.

“Then the next tide comes in, then the next tide comes in — it’s like the sewers backed up. And it’s a full moon — there are higher than normal tides anyway. It really is like the perfect storm.”

Holly Ski, a restaurant owner in Dewey, said she saw 10-15-foot waves Monday — great surfing for those good enough, and crazy enough, to try it.

Evening winds pose dangerous threat

At least three trees have fallen on homes in northwest D.C.  And a wind gust of 55 mph was just clocked in Takoma Park, Md. by a WeatherBug station.

As wind gusts increase to as high as 60-80 mph, more trees will fall overnight. If you’re house is surrounded by trees, you might consider sleeping on the lowest floor.

Here’s some sound advice from Bryan Norcross, meteorologist at the Weather Channel:

For folks staying home, if you’re riding out the storm in a house surrounded by trees, stay on the opposite side of the house from the wind on a low floor. Close the curtains to cover windows facing the wind… but still be very careful near any glass that could break.

Lack of 'tower power' could knock out cell service

If hurricane recovery takes days or even weeks, lack of “tower power” may cause cell service outages, the AP warns.

Most cell phone towers have back-up batteries and some have generators, but if road closures make it difficult to refuel generators, wide-spread outages could occur.

“This is what took out the cellphone network in southern Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, complicating rescue and recovery efforts.”

Read more here.

Blizzard warning in the central Virginia mountains

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Augusta and Rockingham counties through 2 p.m. Tuesday.  It includes Staunton, Waynesboro and Harrisonburg, but significant accumulation is most likely above 2,000 feet in elevation where up to 6-12 inches is possible.  Combine the weight of that heavy wet snow with winds of 30-40 mph, gusting to 60 mph – and power outages are likely.  Warning text.

Related post:Snow swirling in mountains of West Virginia, southwest Virginia

In D.C., cranes cause concern; Gray says they're safe

The Post’s Nikita Stewart and Victor Zapana report:

As a dangling construction crane captivates and terrifies residents in New York, officials in the District said cranes in the nation’s capital should withstand Hurricane Sandy’s violent winds.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said in a Twitter post Monday that the cranes used in the city are designed to withstand winds up to 100 mph. According to Jason Samenow at The Post’s Capital Weather Gang, wind gusts could reach 80 mph in the Washington region and are currently at 55 mph.

 

A crane hangs from a building after being damaged in New York. BRENDAN MCDERMID/Reuters

In Montgomery County, officials inspected construction projects Friday and asked contractors to make sure the machines are “buckled down,” county spokesman Patrick Lacefield said. There are about half a dozen cranes in the county, he said.

In Manhattan, the crippled crane dangled off a midtown luxury high-rise Monday after the storm began buffeting the city.  No injuries were reported, according to the Associated Press.

The District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs issues the permits for crane installation, and it follows requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA,) said Helder Gil, a spokesman for DCRA.

“Each crane is designed by the manufacturer’s specifications to withstand heavy sustained winds,” Gil said. 

 

High tide brings dangerous surge threat from Delaware to New York City

As Hurricane Sandy barrels west-northwest toward the southern New Jersey coast, violent onshore wind and waves will continue bringing dangerously high water to much of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast.

The National Weather Service is forecasting “record extreme” coastal flooding along the New Jersey coast and Delaware Bay during high tide around 8 p.m. this evening. In Atlantic City, NJ, a storm surge of 3-4 feet is forecast to bring water levels between 9-10 feet above average. Similar tide levels are expected from Cape May, N.J. down to Rehoboth Beach, Del.

In New York City, a coastal flood warning is also in effect, with a 3-5 foot storm surge on top of astronomical tides expected overnight and into early Tuesday morning. As of 2 p.m. Monday, Kings Point, N.Y. has already recorded a storm surge of 3.5 feet, bringing the storm tide as high as 12-13 feet. As of this posting, the storm surge in Battery, New York is 5.7 feet and rising. Also, 23-foot waves were observed at the entrance to New York Harbor (see image to right, click to enlarge).

The NWS warns: PROBABILITY IS HIGH FOR SIGNIFICANT INUNDATION AND DAMAGE TO STRUCTURES IN HISTORICALLY FLOOD PRONE SPOTS.

- Justin Grieser, Capital Weather Gang

#PowerOff and #PowerOn: Text us when it happens

As Hurricane Sandy barrels through, thousands are already without power and that number is only likely to grow.

If you lose power, we want to hear about it. Text us at (202) 643-9276 when your power goes out, and make sure to include #powerout in (your city/neighborhood) in your text.

When your power returns, send a message to that same number and make sure to include #poweron in the message.

We’ll collect these messages from across the region and then allow you to see messages from fellow readers and search for those from people in your area.

Note: Your full phone number will never be shown on our Web site, and by texting us, you aren’t signing up for any additional alerts/newsletters/etc. Standard text messaging rates apply.

D.C. offices, public schools closed Tuesday

D.C. Public Schools and government offices will remain closed Tuesday, Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced.

“Because this storm is expected to continue affecting the region with strong winds for the rest of the night and into tomorrow morning, we think it’s in the best interest of public safety to close our government offices and public schools again tomorrow,” Gray said in a statement. “This is also prudent move because we do not yet know how power outages will affect facilities across the District.”

 

Crane on New York skyscraper collapsing in wind

Winds becoming hazardous

At 3 p.m., winds were consistently gusting from 35-45 mph in the metro region.

Here are some peak winds so far, according to the National Weather Service.

* 61 MPH WIND GUST AT BISHOPS HEAD MARYLAND AT 112 PM.
* 57 MPH WIND GUST IN CROFTON MARYLAND AT 118 PM.
* 53 MPH WIND GUST AT PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION AT 138 PM.
* 47 MPH WIND GUST AT REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT AT 135 PM.
* 44 MPH WIND GUST AT DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AT 119 PM.

These will continue building into the evening, with some of the strongest winds expected after 6 p.m. through 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.  Peak wind gusts are likely to be in the 60 to 80 mph range.

Uber pricing unchanged (so far) by storm

With public transportation shut down, many workers are left with no choice but to hail a cab. That became pricier in the District on Monday when the D.C. Taxicab Commission authorized cab drivers to add $15 to the metered fare for any trip originating in the District. 

Uber, the smartphone-based car dispatching service, tweeted that it would be continuing with normal prices on Monday. Now, it’s possible that that could change, but for now the cost remains the same. (The company also said that any changes in pricing would be announced in the app or via text message.)

We’ve reached out to the company for a comment and will let you know if they say anything about prices going up on Monday or Tuesday. 

D.C. shelters

Here is a list of relief centers in the District.

Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600 Calvert St., NW (202) 727-7736| (Ward 3) Emery Recreation Center, 5801 Georgia Ave., NW (202) 576-3211 (Ward 4) North Michigan Park Recreation Center, 1333 Emerson St., NE (202)541-3526 (Ward 5)

Deanwood Recreation Center, 1350 49th St., NE (202) 671-3077 (Ward 7)

Bald Eagle Recreation Center, 100 Joliet St., SW (202) 671-5123 (Ward 8)

Bay Bridge closes

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge has closed, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. The bridge closes when there is sustained wind greater than 55 miles per hour or three gusts of 55 miles per hour (or more) in 10 minutes. 

The bridge will have to be inspected before reopening, and that inspection could take an hour. In short: Don’t expect either span to reopen anytime soon. 

Surfers undaunted by Sandy

Daredevils in Virginia and New York made waves this afternoon when they took to the seas for a bit of pre-storm surfing — in defiance of official advisories and, many would argue, common sense.

A local New York City newscast caught at least one person surfing off the coast of Long Island, where buoys have clocked wave heights of more than 20 feet. Surfers also took to the waves off the coast of Virginia, Florida and North Carolina. In New York City, at least 10  people braved the surf at Bell’s Beach in Rockaway shortly before the beaches closed and the area was evacuated.

While Sandy might make for some great waves (and good pictures — a few below), officials like New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg are urging people to stay off the beach. “Let me say something again and again and again,” he said in a statement on Sunday, “the beaches are dangerous and surfing is extremely dangerous.”

Va. State Board of Elections closings

Due to local weather conditions, the following local Voter Registration Offices will be closed on Monday, October 29, 2012.

  • Accomack County – Also closed Tuesday, October 30, 2012
  • Alexandria City
  • Arlington County
  • Chesapeake City
  • Culpeper County – Closing at 2:00 PM
  • Fairfax County
  • Falls Church City
  • Fauquier County
  • Gloucester County
  • King and Queen County
  • Loudoun County
  • Lancaster County
  • Manassas Park City
  • Mathews County
  • Northumberland County – Closing at 1:30 PM
  • Orange County – Closing at 4:00 PM
  • Portsmouth City
  • Prince William – DMV Satellite Absentee Voting Location Closed, County Absentee Voting Locations Closing at 3:00 PM
  • Surry County
  • Virginia Beach City
  • Westmoreland County

If you are concerned whether or not your local voter registration office is open, you are encouraged to contact them directly.

Jersey shore resident: 'This is absolutely nuts' (Video)

Jersey shore residents say Hurricane Sandy’s early impact is already proving to be much worse than Hurricane Irene, which pounded many areas in the same region last year.

Video: Sandy takes down tree in District

Unfortunately, this scene captured on video in Georgetown will only become more common as the evening wears on. This was taken around 2 p.m.

Winds are picking up in the region, now gusting in the 40-50 mph range.

I-95 closing soon at Tydings Bridge

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said high winds will soon force the closing of Interstate 95 at the Tydings Bridge, for the first time in recent memory. Traffic approaching the span over the Susquehanna River will be forced to exit before the bridge and return in the opposite direction.

Maryland State Police said the closure will likely be completed within the hour. Police have been warning emergency personnel in neighboring states and trucking companies that the closure was coming. O’Malley said those who need to travel north or south will have to circumvent the span far to the west along Interstate 83, through central Pennsylvania.

East-west travel through the state will soon be cutoff over the Chesapeake Bay.

The Bay Bridge is also is expected to be closed within the hour. Restrictions have been imposed on several other major bridges, including no empty trailers or large motor homes. 

— Aaron C. Davis

Loudoun County shelters

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s office announced Monday that county residents in need of shelter during Hurricane Sandy can go to one of the following Loudoun Sheriff’s Office stations:

Eastern Loudoun Station, located a 46620 East Frederick Drive, Sterling Dulles South Public Safety Center, located at 25216 Loudoun County Parkway, Chantilly University Station, located at 45299 Research Place, #100, Ashburn.

To determine which station is closest to you, please visit this site.

Hatem Bridge closed, others to follow

The Hatem Bridge has closed in Maryland, with other closures expected to follow, said Cheryl Sparks, a spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority. 

Restrictions remain for all bridges, barring box trucks and tractor trailers from crossing them. The Tydings Bridge in Maryland will likely close shortly, Sparks said.

They had initially expected to close the Bay Bridge at 1 p.m. and the Tydings Bridge at 2 p.m., but the wind speeds declined and they were able to keep them open a little bit longer.

“We like to keep them open as long as we safely can,” Sparks said.

Traffic has been light on these bridges all day, with drivers largely staying home, she said. 

Hatem Bridge closed, others in Md. likely following

The Hatem Bridge has closed in Maryland, with other closures expected to follow, said Cheryl Sparks, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority. 

Restrictions remain for all bridges, with box trucks and tractor trailers prohibited from crossing. The Tydings Bridge in Maryland will likely close soon, Sparks said.

Maryland officials had initially expected to close the Bay Bridge at 1 p.m. and the Tydings Bridge at 2 p.m., but the wind speeds declined and they were able to keep the spans open a little bit longer.

“We like to keep them open as long as we safely can,” Sparks said.

Traffic has been light on these bridges all day, with drivers mostly staying home, she said. 

Rainfall totals over 2 inches most of region

Bands of moderate to heavy rain continue rotating through the D.C. metro area. All three of the major airports have logged at least 2 inches of rain. Through 2 p.m. Reagan National has received 2.07 inches, Dulles 2.11 inches and BWI 2.88 inches.

Radar shows stream after stream of rain to the east that will continue cycling westward through the area. Rainfall totals will easily reach 4-8″ in the metro region, and 6-12″ over the Delmarva Peninsula. Some areas have already reached the lower to middle portion of these ranges.

Flood warnings cover the entire D.C. and Baltimore regions.

The image to the right (click to enlarge) shows doppler estimated rainfall totals through around 2 p.m. Yellow shaded areas indicate at least 2 inches of rain, red areas at least five inches of rain, and pink areas at least 8 inches.

In Md., no early voting Tuesday

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley tells the Post’s John Wagner:

“I think it should pretty self-evident that we’re not going to be early voting tomorrow.”

Storm swamps Chincoteague

Reader Scott Harbinson sends more images from Chincoteague and reports: “Church St to Eastside road under water. All roads closed.”

The Associated Press reports the entire 37-square-mile island is underwater, three feet deep in some places.

(Sarah Harbinson)

 

Maryland government closed Tuesday, too

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said that the state government will be closed on Tuesday, and he expects similar announcements to soon be made by the D.C. and federal governments.

O’Malley said at a press conference this afternoon that the state has opened 32 shelters and has coordinated with other states in making emergency plans. He pointed out that high waves are already crashing over Ocean City’s boardwalk and that a large part of the fishing pier was washed away.

Major flooding at Dewey, Bethany beaches

The boat ramp at Bethany Bay Resort is completely submerged, and yards as far as two miles inland are under three inches of water, according to observers in the area. The Delaware coast has seen rising waters since Sunday evening; early this morning, Route 1 closed between Dewey and Bethany beaches due to flooding. A buoy 20 miles east of Bethany Beach now measures waves 19 feet high.

Amtrak cancels Tuesday service

Amtrak has canceled all Acela and Northeast Regional trains on Tuesday. 

Beach Drive in D.C. closed

According to U.S. Park Police Sgt. Paul Brooks: So far today, roads crossing through parkland in the Washington area are in pretty good shape, flooding wise, except for Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park, which has been closed since early this morning,

Dominion has 7,200 without power

Dominion Virginia Power reported that about  7,200 customers were without power in Virginia as of 1:30 p.m. Monday, including about 800 customers in Northern Virginia, spokesman Dan Genest said. He said the outages were relatively limited so farm as the storm was only beginning to increase in intensity. Much worse was expected later Monday night.

The utility has arranged to bring in about 2,600 workers from out of state to repair downed lines and restore power, with most expected to begin arriving Tuesday afternoon. Crews assigned to Northern Virginia will be staging at Fort Myer in Arlington and Jiffy Lube Live (formerly Nissan Pavilion) in Prince William County, Genest said.

— Fredrick Kunkle

Supreme Court postpones Tuesday arguments

Here’s an update from The Post’s Supreme Court correspondent, Robert Barnes:

The full Supreme Court showed up for work Monday morning — and there were even two justices to spare. Besides all current justices, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor watched the court hear two cases, along with Hironobu Takesaki, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Japan.

With much of official Washington closed, it was a full house at the court, with lawyers and tourists filling the chamber. The court heard cases about national security and a consumer case involving the resale of goods manufactured overseas.

The court often remains open when the rest of the federal government
closes, taking pride in braving snowstorms or other inclement conditions. However, it announced it was closing the building at 2 p.m. Monday, and the arguments scheduled for Tuesday have been postponed until Thursday. The justices have not yet confirmed that they will keep their regularly scheduled Wednesday session.

The weather entered the court’s proceedings twice, both times when Justice Stephen G. Breyer was questioning lawyers about the future. “All right. Fine,” Breyer said. “That’s why I say certainly — it might not be a storm tomorrow. I mean, you know, nothing is certain.”

Atlantic Gulf Stream feeds Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy has just crossed over the core of the warm Gulf Stream ocean current, and strengthened quite a bit. Now, as the waters ahead of it cool and it loses its tropical identity, it will switch fuel sources and gain energy from the cold front to its west along the East Coast.

- Brian McNoldy, Capital Weather Gang Tropical Weather Expert

Capital Weather Gang’s senior meteorologist, Steve Tracton adds:

In meteorological parlance, what’s about to happen is referred to as “extratropical transition”.

The evolving extratropical system (which would’ve formed even if Sandy hadn’t, by chance, run into it) will absorb and redistribute the hurricane’s heat (“latent heat”), its source of energy, as ocean moisture condenses into raindrops in Sandy’s thunderstorm updrafts.

The added energy tremendously enhances atmospheric processes driving development and intensification of the extratropical storm. One can assume, therefore, the net result is a storm intensifying above and beyond what we’ve seen thus far – as if that wasn’t enough.

Planes grounded in Washington region

The last flights of the day have left the Washington region. That resulted in this board at the Nashville International Airport:

(Photo courtesy of The Post’s Mary Pat Flaherty.)

Update, 3:35 p.m.: The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has announced that Reagan National and Dulles International airports have canceled operations until further notice. The airports will remain open, the authority said in a statement, but it discouraged passengers not to go there.

 

Maryland State Police urge drivers to stay home

The Maryland State Police urged drivers to avoid traveling on the state’s roads from Monday at noon until the end of the storm.

In a statement, the police noted that while they would not be stopping and ticketing vehicles, they still urge drivers to stay off of the roads unless they have an emergency. They noted that travel conditions will only worsen as the day continues, particularly at night, when it will be harder to see debris on the roads. 

Call us, tell us how you're doing

Not to sound like your mother or anything, but we want to know how you’re doing and we want to hear about your Sandy experience thus far.

Call us at (202) 643-9276 and leave a message. We might embed your voicemail on our website or quote you.

Hatem, Tydings bridges closing in an hour

The Hatem and Tydings bridges in Maryland will likely close at around 2 p.m. today, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. The bridges will be inspected before they reopen, the authority reports.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge remains open, though the authority said it was likely to close at 1 p.m. Assume that it will close shortly and do not plan on traveling that way. 

At the Tomb of the Unknowns

Spc. Brett Hyde, Tomb Sentinel, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, guards the Tomb of the Unknowns on Monday, October 29, 2012. A photo that was previously published in this entry was not from today. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres Jr.)

The Tomb Sentinels who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery patrol the tombs 24 hours per day, regardless of weather. Regardless of Sandy.

A more dramatic photo of the Sentinels guarding the tomb during Hurricane Irene was being heavily passed around on Monday. We mistakenly posted that here, before removing the photo and adding one that was taken today.

ABC profiled the Sentinels during Hurricane Irene in 2011. The elite soldiers have continuously guarded the monument “every minute of every day” since taking it over in April 1948.

Today, the Sentinels’ thanked supporters on their Facebook page and offered an update:

Thank you to all of our followers for the kind words this morning. Old Guard Soldiers are currently conducting modified funerals in Arlington National Cemetery, filling sand bags for contingencies, guarding the Tomb, and important support tasks such as continuing to operate the dining facility and aid station. We will post photos as quickly as we can.

The tomb contains the remains of unidentified servicemen who died during World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.

Water pooling on Montgomery County roads

Major two-lane roads in upper Montgomery County through Barnesville and Poolesville, particularly Whites Ferry Road, already have deep water creeping further from nearby farms and fields into the roadway. Residents in the area who drove in to work today should take caution coming back this afternoon and evening. The area around these roads also have heavy, old trees, which could become dangerous as winds pick up and the ground becomes saturated. 

— Michael Rosenwald

Flood warning for Washington, D.C., major flooding of Rock Creek likely

A flood warning has been posted for the District, western Anne Arundel County, Howard County, eastern Montgomery County, northern Prince George’s County, and Carroll County until 8:30 p.m.  From the National Weather Service (bold text indicates my added emphasis)

AT 1223 PM EDT…TWO TO THREE INCHES OF RAIN HAS ALREADY FALLEN ACROSS THE CORRIDOR FROM CARROLL COUNTY DOWN TO THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. STREAM GAUGES SHOW RISES BEGINNING ON THE CREEKS AND STREAMS…AND THESE WILL CONTINUE TO RISE THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND LIKELY INTO THE EVENING AS STEADY RAIN PERSISTS.

 

ROCK CREEK IN WASHINGTON DC IS CURRENTLY APPROACHING THE ACTION STAGE OF 6 FEET. IT IS LIKELY THAT THE CREEK WILL EXCEED FLOOD STAGE…AND MAJOR FLOODING IS POSSIBLE ALONG ROCK CREEK LATER TODAY AND TONIGHT.

Obama: 'The election will take care of itself.'

President Obama, who has returned to the White House, just spoke publicly about Sandy, preparation and the upcoming election. Here are some highlights:

Video:

Virginia lifts H.O.V. rules

Virginia has lifted H.O.V. restrictions on interstates 395, 95, 66 and the Dulles Toll Road this afternoon.

Generator safety tips

If the power goes out today or Tuesday, many people are planning to start up their generators. Here are some tips for how to do so without getting hurt or sick: “Generator use during a power outage.

Snow swirling in mountains of West Virginia, southwest Virginia

Sandy has indeed become a “snow”-i-cane.  Hurricanes that produce some snow when they transition and lose their tropical characteristics aren’t unprecedented, but they are rare. A storm like this that comes into  the region off the ocean and produces a blizzard nearby is a first in my 38-year career as a meteorologist. 

Snow is already falling in West Virginia at Bluefield, Beckley, Snowshoe and Canaan Valley; in North Carolina at Beech Mountain; and in Virginia in towns of Hot Springs and Radford as well as Wise county (where up to 3 inches has already been reported via Twitter).  

My colleague Beau Dodson – who traveled to Davis, West Virginia to chase the snow – sent in this picture:

Additional  pictures via Twitter or local webcams: Southwest Virginia | Snowshoe, W.V.

The westward movement of Sandy later today will spread heavy snow and high winds into the mountains west of the D.C. metro area.  Blizzard warnings have been hoisted for the mountains of West Virginia and Garret County in Maryland, with forecasts in West Virginia calling for 1 to 3 feet of snow above 3,000 feet with winds gusty to 60 mile per hour,  and 1 to 6 inches of snow is being forecast below 2,000 feet.  For the second year in a row, some of the mountains in the Middle Atlantic Region are getting a significant snowstorm in October!

- Wes Junker, Capital Weather Gang Winter Weather Expert

Bay Bridge likely to close at 1 p.m.

Maryland transportation officials told my colleague John Wagner that it is “highly likely” the Bay Bridge will close at 1 p.m. due to high winds. One alert read: “If you have plans to cross the Bay Bridge, please do so immediately.”

New York and New Jersey prep for major flooding

New York and New Jersey escalated their storm preparations this morning, announcing the closure of two major tunnels in Manhattan and the deployment of an elite rescue crew in Fort Dix, N.J.

In New York, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the Holland Tunnel will close at 2 p.m. today. Other crossings that are less prone to flooding, including the Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge, will remain open.

Further south, an elite search and rescue team from Fairfax County deployed to a staging area in Fort Dix. The 80-person unit, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, includes firefighters, paramedics and structural engineers, and has deployed to natural disasters around the world.

 

MoCo residents dump leaves

Here’s a dispatch from The Post’s Michael Rosenwald in Montgomery County:

At the Montgomery Country transfer station, drenched workers near a heaping pile of leaves and mulch reported a steady flow of citizens dropping off last minute piles of fall yard debris that they didn’t want clogging up gutters and storm pipes.

Unlike other sectors of the transfer station, this area smells like potpourri.

“They’re still coming out here. We’ve had about 20 people already,” said Sharema Williams, a country contractor helping supervise the heaping mound of earth.

D.C. cabs add $15 emergency fee to fares

Taxi cabs in D.C. just got $15 more expensive.

The D.C. Taxicab Commission has authorized cab drivers to add $15 to the metered fare for any trip starting in the District because of the inclement weather. The “emergency fare” rate started at noon and will expire Tuesday at noon, unless it is cancelled sooner.

As soon as riders get into a cab, drivers are required to inform them of the higher rate. If there’s a dispute, the commission says the passenger should pay the fare and file a written complaint within 15 days.

Chincoteague under water

Post reader Scott Harbinson sent these images over, saying that the flooding in Chincoteague is much worse than it was during Irene.

(Sarah Harbinson)

 

(Sarah Harbinson)

Reports of flooding in Rock Creek Park

After only a few hours of rain, Rock Creek looks close to flooding. Photos from the portion of the creek near Adams Morgan and Van Ness show high, fast waters almost reaching the banks — as close as a foot away, according to some reports. Patrick Madden, a local reporter for WAMU, tweeted that the creek “looks like a rapid right now.”

D.C.’s Department of Transportation has also received reports of rising water in Rock Creek Park and urges residents to be cautious in the area. To that effect, Beach Drive is closed between Carroll and Wayne avenues and from the D.C. border to Grosvenor Lane.

NWS ups wind estimate for D.C. area, 70-80 mph gusts possible

The National Weather Service – in its latest storm statement – has increased its prediction for peak winds in the Washington, D.C. metro region:

HURRICANE FORCE WIND GUSTS OF 70 AND POSSIBLY 80 MPH ARE EXPECTED TO IMPACT A REGION LOCATED BETWEEN BEL AIR MD…POINT LOOKOUT MD…AND HAGERSTOWN MD BETWEEN 6 PM THIS EVENING TO 6 AM TUESDAY. THIS INCLUDES THE GREATER BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREAS.

Capitol Hill gym packed ahead of Sandy

The Post’s Susan Svrluga filed this dispatch from Capitol Hill:

“Oh nooo!” a mom said at Results Gym on Capitol Hill early Monday morning, adding a curse that her toddler immediately repeated. The gym was open. The playroom with babysitting was open. But it was all booked, packed with appointments from parents anticipating kids trapped in the house for days in the rain.

The gym was one of the few signs of life in a neighborhood where most people were home waiting out the storm. Robert Mendenhall, the manager, said as soon as the school closings were announced, they began getting a lot of calls for babysitting and they expect to be packed until they shut down early, at 2 p.m. “I think it’s the first time Results has ever closed for anything related to the weather,” he said. Tuesday morning they’ll reopen — with babysitters.

Rising seas swamping New Jersey shore

A storm surge of 4-8 feet is causing severe flooding from Ocean City, Md. into southern New England (with locally higher levels around New York City and Long  Island), with some of the most dramatic pictures coming out of New Jersey. Here are a few: Stone Harbor, Atlantic City, Atlantic City (2), Ocean City

Post meteorologist with a Hurricane Sandy update (Video)

Long line at New Carrollton's Lowes

The Post’s Hamil Harris was at the Lowes in New Carrollton this morning, where two dozen people waited in line for a lone cashier:

Suddenly, a store manager announced that a shipment of D batteries and 12-volts had arrived. People broke ranks, headed to a crate and grabbed up batteries, even if they didn’t need them.

“I only needed four,” said one man, who picked up an eight-pack.

Other hot items were drain spouts, hoses and utility bags to collect damp items in case of basements flooding. Just beyond the check-out counter was the door leading to pale gray skies and cold rain.

Bay Bridge remains open

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge remains open to traffic. There is a wind warning in effect on Maryland’s Bay, Tydings, Hatem and Nice bridges, which  means no box trucks or tractor trailers are allowed to travel on them. 

Each of these bridges will close once the sustained wind speed tops 55 miles per hour or if there are three gusts of 55 miles per hour (or greater) in a 10 minute period, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. 

Standing water on K Street NW, Arlington Blvd.

We’ve gotten reports of standing water on the 1600 block of K Street NW (in the westbound lanes) and on eastbound U.S. 50/Arlington Boulevard at Courthouse Road. Remember to use caution when approaching standing water and do not force your car through the water when it is pooling on a roadway. 

O’Malley: Stay off the roads

The Post’s Aaron C. Davis, who covers Maryland politics, filed this dispatch:

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said the latest wobbling of Hurricane Sandy has put the state directly “in the cross hairs” and the wind, rain, and resulting damage the state could face could rival not only that of Hurricane Gloria in 1985, but Hurricane Agnes in 1972.

Hurricane Sandy “is going to come over Maryland, sit on Maryland and bear down on Maryland for a good 24 to 36 hours,” O’Malley said at a 10 a.m. news conference from the state’s emergency operations center in Reisterstown, reiterating his dire prediction from Sunday that “people will die” because of the storm.

O’Malley warned Marylanders to stay off the roads and hunker down at home. He said the state will soon be dealing with multiple emergencies statewide: flooding and hurricane force winds on the coast, tidal flooding throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, high winds in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, and blizzard-like conditions in Western Maryland.

“Your job over the next 24 to 36 hours is to stay off the roads, keep your spouse off the roads … stay home and hunker down in place.”

O’Malley said the weather forecast has turned for the worse because winds will now be coming at an angle that will push water back up into the Chesapeake Bay and into streams and tributaries feeding the bay.

“We will be hit with the most intense winds of the storm, and that potential bay tidal surge, which we thought would be minor, will be causing a lot of flooding,” O’Malley said. “The reality is we’re dealing with in Maryland is the worse than we thought it was going to be 12 hours ago.”

Video:

Ocean City's fishing pier snaps

The Post’s Jeremy Borden is in Ocean City right now and filed this dispatch:

Ocean City officials are comparing the ongoing pelting from Hurricane Sandy of the seaside resort town with a storm that snapped the city’s historic boardwalk in 1985.

Rain and tidal surge swelled to 7 feet early Monday in low lying areas, officials said, where 200 residents remain despite a mandatory evacuation order. There have been no injuries or deaths, officials said.

A large portion of the city’s main fishing pier, about 100 to 150 feet, also snapped due to swelling waves. It was last badly damaged during a storm in the late 1970s, said city spokeswoman Jessica Waters.

The storm is expected to continue to pelt the city with more wind and rain for another day.

City officials have closed many city streets and are urging residents who are still here to stay put.

“You run from the water and you hide from the wind,” said Joseph Theobald, the city’s director of emergency services.

Traffic signals still working in D.C.

Heavy rainfall has already soaked the Washington region, and  winds are increasing as the day continues. But with the worst winds yet to come, traffic signals are still working throughout the District.

The District has 200 generators available for dark intersections and another 100 intersections with a built-in backup power supply. But the city has 1,700 intersections with signals, so widespread outages are likely once the power begins going out. 

Crews would normally post temporary stop signs at many of these intersections, but the high winds will just knock them down, said John Lisle, a spokesman for the District Department of Transportation. 

Lisle urged drivers to use caution in the hours and days after the storm hits. 

“If you come to an intersection where the traffic signals are dark, you have to treat it as a four-way stop,” Lisle said.

Sandy strengthens: peak winds up to 90 mph

Hurricane Sandy’s winds have ramped up some more, reaching 90 mph according to the National Hurricane Center in its 11 a.m. update.

The update also states tropical storm force winds extend up to an incredible 485 miles from the center:

SUSTAINED WINDS TO TROPICAL STORM FORCE ARE OCCURRING FROM LONG ISLAND SOUTHWARD ALONG THE COASTS OF NEW JERSEY…DELAWARE…AND EASTERN VIRGINIA…AND EXTEND AS FAR INLAND AS THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN CHESAPEAKE BAY AND DELAWARE BAY.

The storm’s minimum central pressure has dropped to 943 mb, another indicator of intensification.

Much of Atlantic City under water

Atlantic City public safety director says most of the city is under water and the damage could be worse than the Ash Wednesday storm of 1962, WABC-TV reports.

D.C. bars/restaurants that are open Monday

 

The Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center and the Metro are closed today, but a number of local bars and restaurants are not. Going Out Guide rounded up who’s open and who’s closed. You can also follow the hash tag #openinDC.

A shirtless horse and a D.C. newscast

What may have been an attention-seeking media horse went for a run this morning in D.C.’s Bloomingdale neighborhood and made it onto the local newscast

I believe there is such a thing as stir crazy, but can’t we agree that it’s a little early for this?

Latest death toll from storm

Haitian media reports another victim from Hurricane Sandy. If confirmed, that would be the 66th death from the storm in the Caribbean.

Here’s the toll as of midmorning Monday:

HAITI51 confirmed; one other death reported Monday morning.

CUBA – 11 deaths reported by state media.

JAMAICA, BAHAMAS, PUERTO RICO – One death reported from each.

In addition, the Coast Guard is searching for two crew members of the replica H.M.S Bounty tall ship, which sank in hurricane-whipped seas off North Carolina’s Outer Banks.  Fourteen crew members were rescued from the San Juan-based ship, used in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. 

I-95 tolls waived in Delaware

Delaware has waived the tolls on I-95 and Route 1 in the state until further notice. The state has declared a state of emergency and told drivers to stay off the roads. 

Alexandria bustles as rain falls

A dispatch from The Post’s Annie Gowen in Alexandria:

By mid-morning, the rain was beginning to come down in sheets and the wind was picking up, but a few hardy souls were still out and about in raincoats and wellies, and, this being Alexandria, walking their dogs. Near the south end of King Street, where the water routinely breaches the retaining wall, the satellite trucks were at the ready, but the river was behaving itself.

Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods were bustling with procrastinators still
stocking up on water and other supplies.

“The alarming weather report prompted us to go outside and get cash if things go bad,” said Aivar Viira, 46, a consultant from Alexandria. But, he said, “it’s going to be fun. It’s fun for him–” and he pointed to his son Viggo, 5, who nodded in agreement.

Crystal Williams, 28, was another who was excited to have the day off. She had made the decision to close her cosmetology salon in Clinton, Md., early Monday morning after seeing the weather report.

“I guess Mother Nature and God planned for me to have a day off,” she said. “I’m a workaholic so I’m glad I have the day off and can get some things done. I’m just praying and hoping everybody stays safe.”

Rainfall already one to two inches in D.C., Baltimore

As band after band of heavy rain moves in off the Bay, rainfall totals are quickly mounting. Through 10 a.m., Reagan National Airport has received 1.32 inches of rain and BWI Airport 1.54 inches.

Just east of the Chesapeake Bay, on the eastern Delmarva, doppler radar indicates over 8″ of rain has fallen in some locations.  At Rehoboth Beach, 4.42 inches has fallen according to the Weather Channel.

The image to the right (click to enlarge) shows doppler estimated rainfall totals.  The green shades indicate roughly 0.5-1.5 inches, the yellow 1.5-2.5 inches, the orange 2.5-4 inches, the red 4-8 inches and the pink 8-10 inches.

Rainfall totals will continue to increase and storm totals will likely be in the range of 4-8 inches in the immediate metro region and 6-12 inches on the Delmarva peninsula, if not a bit more.  This will lead to ponding of water on roads, and likely flooding of low lying areas and creeks and streams.

 

FEMA head: 'Focus on safety' (Video)

Obama scraps Tuesday plans, too

President Obama’s press secretary released this statement:

The President will no longer travel to Green Bay, WI tomorrow for a campaign event, so that he can stay in Washington, DC on Tuesday and closely monitor the impact of and response to Hurricane Sandy. As he said at FEMA HQ yesterday, the President has instructed his team to make sure that needed federal resources are in place to support state and local recovery efforts. Additional details about the President’s schedule will be announced as soon as they are available.

How is Sandy different from Irene?

For starters, it looks a whole lot bigger from space. The top photo of Hurricane Irene was taken on Aug. 27, 2011. The bottom photo was taken Sunday.

Sandy is expected to be less rainy, but more windy, than Irene. Experts also expect the storm to be wider and stronger, meaning it could cause even more than the $15 billion in damage that Irene brought last year. 

Winds building across region

At 10 a.m., Reagan National Airport had a sustained wind of 26 mph, gusting to 36 mph. Those are the strongest readings so far there. 

Winds are even higher closer to the coast.  Peak gusts at Ocean City have reached near 60 mph and 50 mph in Rehoboth according to the WeatherBug network. In New York, LaGuardia Airport reported a 58 mph gust at 9:51 a.m.

Winds will continue to increase across the region into this evening. We expect some of the strongest gusts between 5 p.m. and midnight, when readings may reach 60 to even 70 mph.

I-395 North reopens

All lanes have reopened on I-395 North near the Pentagon. 

No more BWI flights

The final flight of the day from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport has left and the airport is in effect closed.

Delta flight 1825 took off for Atlanta shortly after 9 a.m., and no other flights are expected to arrive at or depart from BWI for the rest of the day, said airport spokesman Jonathan Dean. It’s unclear when flights will resume. 

“The airlines will work to resume their service in coming days,” Dean said. “The exact schedule, of course, will depend on weather and conditions throughout the East Coast.” 

Two still missing from HMS Bounty

The Coast Guard confirms that two crew members from the HMS Bounty are missing in the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Bounty was taking on water and 16 crew members eventually abandoned ship (not 17 as was reported earlier by the Coast Guard and the Bounty’s Facebook page). They put on cold water survival suits and boarded a pair of lifeboats. 

The Coast Guard dispatched two Jayhawk helicopters to rescue the crew. So far, 14 of the 16 have been picked up and are en route to Elizabeth City, N.C., to receive medical attention. A third Jayhawk helicopter has been dispatched to help with the search and rescue efforts. 

Watch Sandy approach live on coastal webcams

Here’s an easy way to watch Sandy approach (without getting wet) — several area beaches have live webcams, where you can see the storm surge first-hand. Virginia Beach has webcams at Waterman’s Boardwalk and Hampton Inn Oceanfront North. (Both unfortunately seem to be suffering some on-and-off glitches.) Maryland’s Department of Transportation maintains traffic webcams throughout the state, including in Ocean City and on the Chesapeake Bay

The video hub Ustream has turned its front page into a hurricane-watch hub, with live looks at the D.C. area, Atlantic City, N.J., and New York. Meanwhile, a WeatherBug camera is showing an ominous scene outside the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel in Rehoboth Beach, Del. And Livestream’s Sandy Cam flips among the city’s traffic cams. 

Quartz and Climate Adaptation have lists of webcams further up the coast. A group of “hurricane hackers” are also crowd-sourcing a map of available livestreams, though only a working demo is up at this point. 

Standing water on Connecticut Ave. NW

Reader Jeff Lucas submits this photo of the standing water on Connecticut Avenue near the National Zoo. This photo appears to be on the bridge just north of the Zoo, before the Cleveland Park Metro station. 

 

Central Union Mission ready to help

The Central Union Mission in the District is closing its day-to-day business operations today, but it will continue to shelter and feed homeless men, according to its Web site.

The shelter, located at 1350 R Street NW, is also prepared to to distribute food, water and other essential supplies to its neighbors, as long as supplies last. Executive Director David O. Treadwell states: “We will shelter and feed men in place until the storm has passed. If needed and as space allows, we will shelter as many men as possible within the limits of safe capacity for our R Street facility. Should we reach overflow capacity, we will work with the District of Columbia Emergency Services to find suitable shelter for those we cannot accommodate.”

I-395 North still closed

I-395 North remains blocked near the Pentagon due to the earlier accident there involving two vehicles. The Virginia State Police said they had hoped to have the roadway reopened by 8:45 a.m., but the cleanup continues and crews remain on the scene. Traffic is being diverted in the H.O.V. lanes. 

Still, with so much closed in the area (again, here’s our roundup of the closures/cancellations), the accident has almost no impact on traffic. There are only a handful of cars traveling north on I-395, which would normally be in gridlock at this point in the morning commute. 

Report: Ocean City pier destroyed

Reports are coming in that the pier in Ocean City, Md., has been destroyed. Justin Berk tweeted a photo of the destroyed pier earlier this morning:

Last flight leaves Reagan National Airport

The last plane traveling to or from Ronald Reagan National Airport has departed. An airport official said Delta flight 1039 (nonstop service to Atlanta), which left shortly after 9 a.m., is the last flight for the day. It’s too soon to tell what will happen on Tuesday, but for today, National’s runways have gone silent. 

Meanwhile, there are still flights left on the books for Dulles International Airport. Two international flights are scheduled to arrive at 10 and 11 a.m., respectively, while flights to Dubai, Boston and Toronto are still listed as departing today. 

Sandy making turn toward the coast

Sandy is starting its strong left turn toward the coast this morning, with landfall is set to occur around midnight between the northern Delmarva and southern New Jersey.

Its current position is about 265 miles southeast of Atlantic City. Amazingly, its central pressure is 946 mb, tying the Great Long Island 1938 hurricane for the lowest pressure on record north of Cape Hatteras, N.C..

Boarded up windows in Georgetown

Georgetown stationery store Papyrus is ready for Sandy. The store’s windows are boarded up and sandbags are on the front step.

The store is just one many that are closed as Sandy approaches. We’re maintaining a list of office and school closings here.

 

Loudoun's 911 back-up plans

From the Post’s Caitlin Gibson:

In the event of a 911 phone system failure caused by Hurricane Sandy — similar to that experienced in some areas following the June derecho — Loudoun residents can reach the Leesburg Police Department by calling 703-771-4500; 571-238-4864; or 571-439-4506, authorities said Monday.

Site collects Instagram photos from Sandy

If you’d like to watch Sandy through an old-timey lens, Chris Ackermann and Peter Ng have just the site for you. The New York-based programmers built Instacane “in the calm before the storm;” the site collects Instagram’s public hurricane photos and republishes them in almost-real time. Some of them are already pretty scary.

 

Report: HMS Bounty sinks, crew members missing

The HMS Bounty sank off of the North Carolina coast this morning, according to WITN, a television station based in North Carolina. WITN reports that two of the 17 crew members who abandoned the ship are still missing. 

Earlier: Associated Press: Crew abandons HMS Bounty

Crash blocks inner loop lanes

A crash on the inner loop of the Beltway before Connecticut Avenue is blocking three lanes right now. This type of lane closure happening at this point in the morning commute would normally be a nightmare, but the traffic impact is blunted by the fact that so few people are on the roads. Still, expect some delays if you are going to be out there. 

Supreme Court stays open

While most courts in our region are closed today, the nation’s highest court remains open. Here’s a dispatch from The Post’s Robert Barnes, who covers the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court will be open as usual, and hear arguments in two cases already scheduled. One involves a suit challenging a U.S. surveillance program that monitors millions of international telephone and email messages from those in the U.S. to others overseas as part of the government’s anti-terrorism efforts. It also will hear an important consumer case that involves the sale of products marketed for overseas but imported into the U.S. for sale here.

The court does not easily move away from its schedule and has heard cases during snowstorms that shut down the rest of official Washington. It is slated to hold oral arguments on Tuesday and Wednesday as well, and no changes have yet been announced to that schedule.

"Frankenstorm" transition underway

What to call the storm? Perhaps the trickiest part of this system from a warning perspective is that Sandy may not technically be a hurricane by the time it reaches the coastline later tonight. It is interacting with a cold front that is draped on the coastline and it is losing some of its tropical characteristics. It actually has a warm front forming off to its east and a cold front to its south… a sign that it’s transitioning to an extratropical or mid-latitude cyclone. Or morphing into a Frankenstorm, as some have called it…

This transformation absolutely does not make it any less dangerous! It has been intensifying, and this interaction with the mid-latitude front is exactly what has been forecast to occur for days now. With or without a hurricane or a hurricane warning, this storm is extraordinary and must be taken very seriously.

- Brian McNoldy, Capital Weather Gang Tropical Weather Expert

Which DC coffee shops are open?

The District of Coffee — aka @DCoffeeSnob — is tracking which D.C. shops are open today. The open list (which includes Tynan Coffee and Tea, Chinatown Coffee Co. and M.E. Swing Coffee) is much longer than the closed list.

Hurricane Sandy's projected path

For hurricane path projections, public alerts, emergency shelters and lots of other useful storm stuff, check out this Google.org crisis map on The Grid.

Flash flooding reported in Northwest D.C.

Flash flooding has been reported on Connecticut Avenue NW between Woodley Park and Cleveland Park, according to the District Department of Transportation. 

Crash blocks I-395 North

An accident on I-395 North near the Pentagon shortly after 7:45 a.m. is blocking the northbound lanes. The crash involved two vehicles, one of which overturned, according to the Virginia State Police. 

The lanes should reopen by 8:45 a.m., police say.

Boardwalk collapses, streets flood in Atlantic City

Atlantic City’s iconic boardwalk is collapsing at its north end and many nearby streets are flooding, according to tweets from the area. Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Aubrey Whelan tweets that while she hasn’t yet seen the collapsed boardwalk, police have reported the damage; she also posts these photos from nearby:

 

 

Watch East Coast wind speeds rise

Here’s a cool way to watch Hurricane Sandy come in: This wind map, a project by artists Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, visualizes wind speeds and patterns across the country in almost-real time. As you might expect, it currently shows dozens of swirling bright lines across the east coast, concentrated in the mid-Atlantic region. Click through for the live version. 

Dr. Gridlock's tips, guidance

Robert Thomson, the Post’s Dr. Gridlock, has outlined what commuters need to know about getting around during the coming days.

One big tip for today:

The best travel advice for the next two days is, Don’t. You’re better off keeping an eye on the roof, the pets and the basement. A commuter might drive to work Monday morning and think this is just some heavy rain. But the conditions you encounter going in are likely to be very different from what you encounter coming back. The bridge could be closed, the roadway flooded and the intersection signals dark.

Head here to read the rest, which includes resources for finding out the latest traffic news. 

Rainfall projection: 6 to 7 inches

NOAA has released its latest rainfall projection and the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metro regions are in the bullseye. A total of 6 to 7 inches is forecast, with amounts gradually decreasing to the southwest. The heaviest rain is currently falling along the western side of the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore through Anne Arundel and Calvert counties, where rainfall rates are up to 2 inches per hour.

Interesting note: on the cold side of the storm, in southwest Virginia, Virginia Tech meteorologist Kathryn Prociv reports snow in Blacksburg.

Latest on the HMS Bounty

The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued 14 of the 17 people who abandoned the HMS Bounty, according to the Bounty’s Facebook page. We have no word yet from the Coast Guard about the status of the ship or its crew. 

The crew of the Bounty abandoned ship about 90 miles away from Hatteras, N.C., according to the Coast Guard. The ship was taking on water and had no propulsion, and at one point the ship’s owner called the Coast Guard to report losing contact with the crew. 

The 17 crew members put on suits meant for cold water and left the ship in two lifeboats with canopies. 

Huge waves pound the New Jersey shore (Video)

Hurricane Sandy is making big waves along the New Jersey shore as it marches toward the East Coast.

Maryland warns drivers to stay off roads

Maryland officials are urging drivers to stay off the roads, warning that the heavy rain soaking them now will only get worse in the coming hours and days. 

“We’re trying to tell people just don’t drive, don’t go on the roads,” said Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Traffic has been lighter than normal for a Monday morning commute, but drivers should absolutely not take the emptier roads as a sign they can drive, he said.

“That should not be an invitation for people to try and get from point A to point B,” Gischlar said. “You might not be able to get back from point B.”

Satirical #MittStormTips take over Twitter

Hurricane Sandy has already rained on the presidential campaigns, forcing both President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to cancel campaign events and rallies on the east coast. For Romney, the storm blew in a Twitter woe, as well: The hash tags #MittStormTips and #RomneyStormTips took off last night, with Romney’s critics proposing satirical solutions to Hurricane Sandy.

 

 

Analytics site Topsy reports 589 #mittstormtips in the past day; though it hasn’t quite taken off, #Obamastormtips has seen 13 tweets as well.

 

Heavy rain into metro D.C., flood warning for Baltimore

Overnight, Sandy’s heaviest rain fell east of the Chesapeake Bay, with some areas receiving over 5 inches on the west side of the Delmarva Peninsula. Now some of that heavy rain is pushing east to the I-95 corridor. Moderate to heavy rain is falling in the District, Fairfax, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and points east.

A flood warning has been issued for Baltimore until 3 p.m. Writes the National Weather Service:

THE FIRST HEAVY RAIN BANDS WERE MOVING INTO BALTIMORE CITY…BALTIMORE COUNTY…AND HARFORD COUNTY. HEAVY RAIN WILL CONTINUE TO PUSH INTO THE AREA…CAUSING FLOODING THROUGHOUT THE MORNING AND INTO THE AFTERNOON. IF RAIN BECOMES ESPECIALLY HEAVY…FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS COULD BECOME REQUIRED LATER TODAY FOR A PORTION OF THE AREA.

Shown here is a radar snapshot from 7:26 a.m. Click to enlarge

Md. Governor's Pepco comments

One fear that Sandy has raised: That thousands of Washington region residents will once again lose power. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley reportedly made this comment about Pepco on WTOP this morning:

Let us know what you're seeing

Are you going to work today? We’ve asked about your commuting experiences (and keep sending those in!). But we also want to hear about how things seem on the roads.

Public transit is essentially nonexistent in the Washington region today, with Metro and every other major commuting option shut down due to the storm. But while the federal government and area schools are closed, plenty of people still have to get to work. 

This inevitably means some people will have no choice but to drive to the office. Let us know what you’re seeing and experiencing. Are the roads more crowded than you would have expected? Are some congested arteries slower than on a usual morning? Rain has been pelting the region, which means the roads should already be dangerously slick. Let us know what you’re seeing in the comments below or by tweeting @drgridlock.

Grab your political signs!

Laura Vozzella, a Virginia political reporter for The Post, just posted this news: U.S. Senate hopefuls George Allen (R) and Timothy M. Kaine (D) have asked supporters to remove their yard signs before Sandy hits.

Kaine made this plea in an e-mail: “[T]he last thing we want is for yard signs to become projectiles.”

You can read the full post here: “Kaine, Allen warn that storm could send yard signs flying.

Photos: New York subway empties for Sandy

WMATA isn’t the only major subway system shutting down for Hurricane Sandy. In New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority also closed early on Oct. 28 in preparation for the storm. MTA posted eerie photos of the empty system Sunday night; landmarks like the Grand Central Terminal look almost post-apocalyptic without people in them.

MTA

 

MTA

 

MTA

Is your coffee shop open?

My colleague Peter Hermann braved the rain (which is now steady and pelleting) to get us a round of coffee. Here are his thoughts from the adventure:

Hearing from the Wall Street Journal that Starbucks closed its New York stores for the storm, a handful of us in the Post newsroom pooled our money and made a mad dash to the nearest store in what now was a driving rain.

At 15th and K streets Northwest, the man behind the counter, Hamallah
Taunkara, said his was the only Starbucks open in the District. And he’s only staying open until 8. That’s 8 a.m.

“I live nearby,” Taunkara said, and his boss picked him up. This is of course a completely unscientific — and quick — survey of coffee shows within a a one block radius of our office. This particular Starbucks had only three customers, including the man sitting on the sidewalk outside without any shoes.

It looked like that other coffee and sandwich shops were opening near the Post, though it’s unsure how long they’d be open. The Caribou at 15th and M streets didn’t have a single customer, the clerk shrugged her shoulders when asked about the hours. “Not sure,” she said.

And the storm hasn’t even really begun yet.

Crew abandons tall ship near North Carolina

The crew of the HMS Bounty has abandoned ship about 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., according to the Coast Guard. 

All 17 members of the crew put on cold water survival suits and lifejackets before taking off in two lifeboats with canopies. 

We’ll update as soon as we hear more on the status of the crew.

Earlier: Tall ship in distress

Shelters open in Maryland, Virginia and D.C.

My colleague Maggie Fazeli Fard reports that officials across the Washington area have opened shelters for residents who cannot stay in their homes.

Officials recommend bringing the following if you go to a shelter:

  • Medications and medical supplies
  • Baby supplies (food and diapers)
  • Cards, books and games
  • Toiletries and personal hygiene items
  • Charged cell phone
  • Identification
  • Valuable papers
  • Money (cash, checkbook, credit cards)
  • Change of clothing
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, pillows
  • Non-perishable food and bottled water
  • Portable radio and batteries

DISTRICT

  • Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600 Calvert St. NW, (202) 727-7736 (Ward 3)
  • Emery Recreation Center, 5801 Georgia Ave. NW, (202) 576-3211 (Ward 4)
  • Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, 1100 Michigan Ave. NE, (202) 576-9238 (Ward 5)
  • Deanwood Recreation Center, 1350 49th St. NE, (202) 671-3077 (Ward 7)
  • Bald Eagle Recreation Center, 100 Joliet St. SW, (202) 671-5123 (Ward 8)

For more information: D.C. press release.

MARYLAND

  • Anne Arundel County: Annapolis High School, 2700 Riva Rd., Annapolis, 410-260-2211 (Dogs and cats permitted.)
  • Carroll County: Winters Mill High School, 560 Gorsuch Road, Westminster.
  • Century High School, 355 Ronsdale Road, Eldersburg.
  • Calvert County: Huntingtown High School, 4125 North Solomons Island Road, Huntingtown, Md., 410-535-0396 (Pets that can fit in a carrier are permitted.)
  • Howard County: Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia, Md. 410-313-2900 (Pet friendly. Opens at noon on Monday.)
  • Montgomery County: White Oak Community Recreation Center, 1700 April Lane, Silver Spring (Pet friendly. Opens at noon on Monday.)
  • Activity Center at Bohrer Park, 506 S. Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg
  • Mid-County Community Recreation Center, 2004 Queensguard Road, Silver Spring.
  • Prince George’s County: Ritchie Coliseum, University of Maryland, 7950 Baltimore Ave, College Park (Pet friendly)

Virginia

  • Arlington County: Emergency Winter Shelter, 2049 15th Street North, Courthouse area. See more information here
  • Fairfax County: No shelters have been opened. Visit the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management blog for updates.
  • Loudoun County: No shelters have been opened. Sign up with Alert Loudoun for updates.
  • Prince William County: No shelters have been opened. Visit the county Web site for updates.
  • City of Falls Church: No shelters have been opened. Visit the city Web site for updates.

Hurricane haikus on Twitter

Hurricane Sandy is inspiring some area residents to poetry — Twitter poetry, at least. Among the odes to the incoming storm:

 

 

 

 

Feeling poetic? We’ll keep an eye out for other haikus using the #sandydc, #sandymd and #sandyva tags.

Wind restrictions in effect on Bay Bridge

Wind restrictions are in effect on the Bay Bridge. This means no tractor trailers or box trucks are allowed to drive on the bridge.

The bridge will close if wind tops 55 miles per hour or if there are three gusts at that speed in a 10 minute period. 

Virginia urges drivers to stay off roads

Virginia is urging drivers to stay off the roads during Hurricane Sandy. The Virginia Department of Transportation warned that flooding, high winds, downed trees and fallen power lines could create severe hazards. 

Flooding has already closed more than 30 side roads in the Fredericksburg and Hampton Road areas. VDOT has about 1,000 workers ready to clear debris from roadways, with crews in the western part of Virginia prepared for snow removal. 

As with all areas, drivers are warned not to drive through standing water or high water. Additionally, if a traffic signal is out, remember to treat the intersection as a four-way stop. But the big tip for Sandy: Avoid driving during the worst of the storm. 

Obama cancels Florida event

The president arrived in Orlando last night, but Karen Tumulty reports from Florida that he will now return to Washington.

Read more about Sandy’s effects on Campaign 2012 here.

One daycare, one kid

It’s still early, but downtown D.C. is unusually quiet for a Monday. In addition to the federal government closing, many private companies are also shuttered for the day — or they have allowed employees to work from home. Here’s a dispatch from my colleague Michelle Boorstein, who writes about religion:

Photo: Hurricane Sandy from space

This NASA photo of Hurricane Sandy is a doozy: The image, taken Sunday at 9:02 a.m. from a weather satellite, shows a massive circular cloud over the east coast.  The photo was posted by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, which is under a “Code Red” advisory and closed to all non-essential employees today.

Few D.C. power outages reported

Pepco is currently reporting 23 power outages concentrated in Prince George’s County, though outages in Montgomery County and the Columbia Heights/U Street area were also reported overnight. Fewer than 200 customers are without power this morning.

 

 

 

A map of current outages is available on Pepco’s Web site. The utility company has a notoriously poor track record with storms, but has promised to devote all available resources to Hurricane Sandy damage.

Extending your phone battery life for the storm

Pepco is urging D.C. residents to prepare for three days without power. But while it might be easy to stock three days’ worth of candles and canned goods, keeping a phone battery alive that long is a bit more difficult.

Start by lowering the brightness on your screen and turning off features such as loud or vibrating ringtones. If you have a smartphone and don’t need the Internet, turn off 3G, Wi-fi and Bluetooth when you’re not using them. (You can usually find these options in the “network” settings.) Many apps will also run in the background even when you’re not using them, draining battery life. On iOS phones, double-click the home button to see and power down these apps. On Android phones, you’ll find your background apps on the applications tab. Turn off push notifications and e-mail syncing, as well.

It may be tempting if the power goes out, but avoid watching videos or playing music on your phone during the storm. Also be aware of apps like Flashlight for iOS, which are useful but need lots of power. On Android, you can check your most power-hungry apps by clicking into “battery use” from settings > about phone.

The most foolproof strategy, of course, is to buy a back-up battery or a car charger. But with many area stores reportedly running low on hurricane supplies, that might be easier said than done.

Commuting tales

I am curious how people are getting to work today. Here are a few responses from Twitter:

Closings and cancellations

Metro is closed. The federal government is closed. School systems are closed. Colleges are closed. Pretty much everything is closed today. But if you want a full list, here’s one for you: “Hurricane Sandy causes closings, cancellations around D.C. region.

 

Do you have to work today?

If you are one of the lucky souls who has to show up at the office today, how are you getting there?

I live about a mile from The Washington Post and would usually take the bus on a rainy day. That wasn’t an option, as the metro system is shut down. Rather than trying my luck with a cab, I walked to work — armed with an umbrella, raincoat and wellies. Luckily, the rain was light and there wasn’t any wind.

As I walked along, I didn’t spot a single cab. My coworkers said they had mixed experiences with calling one. And it looks like Uber — a new car service in D.C. — is dealing with delays, according to its Twitter traffic.

How are you getting there? Any tips for fellow commuters? You can leave a comment at the bottom of this blog’s main page or tell me on Twitter, @wpjenna.

(A few people have already shared their tips for getting to work. Suggestions so far include taking a boat, a canoe or wind-surfing.)

Dominion: Up to 1 million could lose power

Dominion Virginia Power estimates that up to 1 million customers could lose power due to Hurricane Sandy, and that the eventual number could be even higher. A spokesman for the utility also warned that outages could last for days. 

“We want people to understand that this is a massive storm,” said Le-Ha Anderson, a Dominion spokeswoman. “Even with all of the resources available, it will still take us multiple days to get everyone back online.” 

The company had about 42,000 customers lose power since Sunday morning, but they have restored power to about 40,000 of those people, Anderson said. 

We’ll be keeping tabs on power outages in the Washington region here.

Hurricane Sandy emergency numbers in D.C.

It’s only sprinkling now, but you might want to have these numbers on hand for when the weather gets worse.

Power outage: Pepco, (877) 737-2662
Power line down: 911
Clogged catch basin and other plumbing or sewage problems: D.C. Water, (202) 612-3400
Shelter availability: D.C. Shelter Hotline, (800) 535-7252
Street light outage: D.C. Public Works, (202) 727-1000

Good (rainy) morning!

My name is Jenna Johnson, and I will be live-blogging throughout the morning to bring you news about Sandy’s approach and impact. I would love your help. Let me know what’s happening in your neighborhood: Is the power off? Is the wind picking up? Is the rain soaking? How are you getting to work? Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page. You can also share your experiences with me on Twitter, @wpjenna.

Tall ship in distress

The Coast Guard is monitoring a tall ship in distress off of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, according to the Associated Press. The HMS Bounty, a replica of the ship made famous in the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty,” has 17 people aboard about 90 miles off of the coast. 

Public transit shut down in Washington region

As Sandy approaches, the federal government and area schools are shut down, as are public transportation options across the region. Here’s a reminder of what is not operating today:

  • Metro (that includes Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess)
  • MARC 
  • VRE 
  • Amtrak 
  • Ride On
  • Arlington Transit
  • DASH (and the King Street Trolley in Old Town Alexandria)
  • Fairfax Connector
  • OmniRide
  • Loudoun County Transit
  • Capital Bikeshare
  • D.C. Circulator 
In addition, parking restrictions will not be enforced in the District.