ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New Jersey coastline with 80 mph winds Monday night and hurled an unprecedented 13-foot surge of seawater at New York City, flooding its tunnels, subway stations and the electrical system that powers Wall Street. At least 10 U.S. deaths were blamed on the storm, which brought the presidential campaign to a halt a week before Election Day.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the worst of the rain had passed for the city, and that the high tide that sent water sloshing into Manhattan from three sides was receding.
Still, the power was out for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and more than 3 million people altogether across the East, and the full extent of the storm’s damage across the region was unlikely to be known until daybreak.
In addition, heavy rain and further flooding remain major threats over the next couple of days as the slow-moving storm makes its way into Pennsylvania and up into New York State.
By late night, the center of the storm was over southern New Jersey. Just before it reached land, forecasters stripped it of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature. It still packed hurricane-force wind, and forecasters were careful to say it remained every bit as dangerous to the tens of millions still in its path.
“It was nerve-racking for a while, before the storm hit. Everything was rattling,” said Don Schweikert, who owns a bed-and-breakfast in Cape May, N.J., near where Sandy roared ashore. “I don’t see anything wrong, but I won’t see everything until morning.”
As the storm closed in, it smacked the boarded-up big cities of the Northeast corridor — Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston — with stinging rain and gusts of more than 85 mph. It also converged with a cold-weather system that turned it into a superstorm, a monstrous hybrid consisting not only of rain and high wind but snow in West Virginia and other mountainous areas inland.