TODAY | October 29, 2012
>>> "today" on a monday morning. i'm matt lauer .
>> good morning, everyone. i'm savannah guthrie , and it is an anxious morning for folks up and down the east coast . hurricane sandy strengthened over the night.
>> want to give you the information we know right now. sandy is a category 1 hrica th wind speeds of 85 miles per hour. it's located about 285 miles east of cape hatteras , north carolina . emergency officials in new york city and washington , d.c. had taking unprecedented actions to deal with this storm.
>> that's right. the mass transit systems shut down, schools cancelled. the stock markets are also closed. the first weather-related closure in 27 years, and just take a look at this nasa image from space. this is one massive hurricane. 800 miles wide which means its impact is going to be felt across a massive region for a very long time.
>> you forgot to mention one precaution. starbucks in new york and long island closed this morning. don't hear that very often. weather officials are calling this mind-boggling. sandy is on a collision course with two other weather systems that are only going to make it more dangerous. in just a couple of hours, those systems will cause sand toe make a left turn and head directly towards the east coast . if that's not enough, there's a full moon tonight which means higher than usual tides. combine that with the expected storm surge , and this is literally a perfect storm , and it could be of historic proportions.
>> and add to that the backdrop, of course, a presidential election just eight days away. president obama , governor romney forced to cancel some events and reschedule others. we just got word that the president has cancelled a planned event in florida this morning in order to get back to washington . they were worried air force one may not be able to land in deteriorating conditions.
>> we've got correspondents all up and down the east coast . let's start with al roker in point pleasant beach, new jersey. al, what can you tell us?
>> reporter: well, i can tell you, matt, that these dunes that i'm on were built for a storm in 1992 that had washed into the town and caused massive damage . these dunes are in damage of breaching. high tide is starting to come up over the dunes. this is a massive storm, as you mentioned, and it will get more intense. it's now over the gulf stream that's running parallel to the east coast . that is extremely warm water. we've seen pressure drops. the pressure is now down to 941 millibars, and it may strengthen even more. we expect more strengthening. take a look at a path of, first of all, sandy right now is 385 miles south southeast of new york city . 85-mile-per-hour winds. it's moving to the north at 15 miles per hour. eventually, as we look at the path, in the next few hours the jet stream that is dipping down to the south is going to force this to the left. this is unprecedented. most of the meteorologists i've spoken with and hurricane experts say they have,has not happened, and then it makes landfall sometime late tonight and early tomorrow morning and then meanders its way into interior sections of the northeast. here are the effects we're looking for. first of all, the storm surge . again, what you see behind me, this is indicative of what we're going to see. we're going to see a storm surge as y g from ocean city , maryland, through long island, about 4 to 8 feet, but on the other side of long island and connecticut is long island sound, because of the fetch of the winds, it will pile up the water even more. we're talking storm surges of up to 11 feet, and as you mentioned earlier because of an astronomical high tide because of a full moon it's going to be even worse . the wind is also going to be a big problem. predicted wind gusts of 50, 60 miles per hour stretching from washington , d.c. all the way up to boston later today. those winds will take down trees which in turn are completely still, a lot of placed laden with foliage. those are l take down power lines . we're expecting power outages, massive power outages from boston, back to buffalo and down to washington , d.c. the rain is going to be a big factor as well. we're talking about especially south of new york city , upwards of a foot or more of rain, but as you get to the north of that area, 7 to 12 inches of rain generally. as if that isn't enough, because this system is pulling in cold air from canada, we have blizzard warnings in effect for parts of west virginiand into the blue rid mountains of virginia. we're looking at up to one to two feet of snow in some of the upper elevations. this, and we have high wind watches and warnings all across the great lakes with waves of 25 feet on the great lakes, so what we're talking about is a massive system that's going to affect the eastern third of the country. savannah?