Federal government officials warned that as many as 50 million people are in the path of potentially hazardous weather conditions as Hurricane Sandy moves to merge with cold-weather systems and flood coastal and inland areas in the next several days.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said that the nation has been full of talking and warning about the megastorm from Hurricane Sandy for the last several days and the storm is scheduled to start impacting the D.C. area Sunday night.
"The time for preparing and talking is about over," Mr. Fugate said in a Sunday morning conference call.
The storm is predicted to bring strong wind gusts, up to a foot of rain, power outages, freezing temperatures, snow and up to 11 feet of storm surges to areas as far west as the Great Lakes and as far north as Canada. On Saturday night, forecasters declared it the largest Atlantic Ocean weather system in history.
The size of the storm is what makes it especially deadly, said National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb.
"Sandy is a large hurricane and large systems pose multiple hazards for more people than smaller systems of comparable intensity," Mr. Knabb said.
Exactly where and when the storm will make landfall is not known, but Mr. Knabb said weather conditions throughout the Mid-Atlantic were already deteriorating on Sunday morning. Because the storm will be mixing with other cold-weather systems, as well as moving close to the coast right at high tide, Mr. Knabb said that the character of this storm is different than others that the area has seen. People should not focus on the time the system makes landfall or where its center will be.
"The size of the storm is going to carve a pretty large swath of bad weather," he said.
Mr. Knabb and Mr. Fugate both encouraged people to listen to their local emergency management offices and heed any warnings they issue. Mr. Knabb said that people should also not mentally compare this coming storm to any they might have been through.
"We just encourage people to keep focus on what the impacts are going to be as this gets closer to landfall," he said.
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