Hurricane Sandy: East Coast Braces for Superstorm

ABC News

Hurricane Sandy is making its way toward the East Coast this morning after the storm claimed 43 lives in the Caribbean.

Meteorologists downgraded Sandy from hurricane status this morning but upgraded it back to a hurricane a few hours later, after hurricane-force winds kicked up again.

"Air Force hurricane hunters have been out flying in and around the storm and they found that it's reintensified and it's gotten back to a hurricane with peek winds of about 75 miles per hour," said Chris Lancey, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center.

Today, the storm is pounding Florida beaches with 5- to 10-foot waves and is easily visible from space, stretching hundreds of miles across.

But soon, Sandy will meet up with a cold front in the northwest and a high pressure system from Greenland, fueling it with enough energy to make it more powerful than the "Perfect Storm" from 1991, Hurricane Grace, some meteorologists say.

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"This storm that is going to be impacting the mid-Atlantic and parts of the Northeast….is going to be destructive, historic, and unfortunately life threatening," said AccuWeather's Bernie Rayno.

Sandy will make her way up the coast before making landfall around Delaware on Tuesday. A 4- to 10-foot coastal surge is expected to affect areas like Washington, D.C., New Jersey and New York, reminding residents of the $14 billion worth of damage caused by hurricane Irene in 2011.

"Certainly having lived through it, lost everything in my basement -- I had 10 feet of water in my house --This is a concern," said Staten Island resident Iris Baum.

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Communities all along the east coast are building sand walls and stocking up on supplies to ready themselves for the monster storm. It could bring almost a foot of rain, high winds and up to two feet of snow.

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In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned residents to brace themselves.

"There's the possibility of parts of our city flooding, or high winds that could force certain bridges to be closed," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg made the unprecedented call to evacuate low-lying parts of the city and shut down the subway system before Irene hit last year. It is not clear whether he'll implement another shutdown for Sandy.

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Even central Pennsylvania and Connecticut are worried. As farmers hastened to move equipment to higher ground, politicians canceled public events and residents were cautioned to prepare for days without electricity.

"Be forewarned," Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. "Assume that you will be in the midst of flooding conditions, the likes of which you may not have seen at any of the major storms that have occurred over the last 30 years."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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