MIAMI, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Bus and subway service in New York City will shut down Sunday night as the Big Apple braced for Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Commuter rail service will also be suspended as the huge storm lumbers along the U.S. Atlantic coast on a path to bring it ashore in northern New Jersey overnight.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 11 a.m. EDT advisory that Sandy was 575 miles south of New York, and 250 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C.
With sustained top winds of 75 mph, the storm was expected to be at near hurricane force when it makes landfall in the New York area.
"Sandy is moving toward the northeast near 14 miles per hour and this general motion is expected to continue," the Hurricane Center said. "A turn to the north and then the northwest is expected tonight and early Monday."
The winds, along with expected heavy rains and dangerous storm surge, were enough for Cuomo and New York Mayor to button the city down.
"I do think Monday and Tuesday are going to be difficult days," said Joseph Lhota, chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Neighboring New Jersey evacuated coastal areas and ordered casinos along the Atlantic City boardwalk to close Sunday afternoon. The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger said toll booths on the Jersey turnpike were shut down to speed up the flow of traffic away from the shore.
The suspension of public transportation was only part of the hurried preparations under way along the East Coast. The New York Times said hardware stores and supermarkets were mobbed this weekend and states of emergency were declared in six states and the District of Columbia.
Utilities were on full alert and warned coastal residents to expect lengthy power outages during and after the storm. Airlines grounded scores of flights in advance, leaving travelers to rearrange or cancel their trips.
Sandy is expected to plow headlong into a chilly east-bound winter weather system at some point, which forecasters fear will mean a long stretch of stormy weather stretching well inland.
"This is not just going to be a coastal event," said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center.