After leaving 44 people dead in the Caribbean, Hurricane Sandy was downgraded to a tropical storm yesterday as it inched toward the US east coast, threatening to wreak havoc on a large slice of the country in the final week of an election campaign.
What has been dubbed “Frankenstorm” was expected to make landfall somewhere between Virginia and Massachusetts during the frenzied final week of campaigning in advance of the Nov. 6 presidential, congressional and local elections.
Concern is mounting that storm damage and power outages could have a major impact on voter turnout, polling station readiness and last-minute campaigning by US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candiadate Mitt Romney.
US Vice President Joe Biden canceled an appearance yesterday in Virginia Beach to allow officials to focus on storm preparations and Romney did the same.
Forecasters predicted the storm could collide early next week, with a seasonal “nor’easter” weather system that would super-charge it while dragging it west on to land and hitting states such as Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and even inland Ohio.
Before then, Sandy is expected to lumber up the coast as a huge, slow-moving system, while the eastern US braces for huge tidal surges, power outages, inland flooding and even heavy snowfall on high ground far from the coast.
As emergency response teams and frightened families stocked up on essential supplies, meteorologists said Sandy could affect as much as a third of the country, from the Carolinas up to New England and as far inland as Ohio.