HATTERAS ISLAND, United States - Weather forecasters worked to pinpoint the likely landfall of the monstrous Hurricane Sandy as it closed in on the US East Coast Sunday with the potential to be the biggest storm to hit the mainland.
Government officials faced tough decisions on emergency plans as residents scrambled to purchase supplies. Governors of several states in the hurricane's path declared emergencies and ordered mandatory evacuations of vulnerable coastal areas.
On its current projected track, Sandy is most likely to make US landfall on Monday night between Delaware and the New York/New Jersey area, forecasters said.
While Sandy's winds were not overwhelming for a hurricane, its width was what made it exceptional. The storm's hurricane force winds extended 105 miles (165 km) from its center while its lesser tropical storm-force winds reached across 700 miles (1,125 km).
Sandy could have a brutal impact on major cities in the target zone. In New York, city officials discussed whether to shut the subway system on Sunday in advance of the storm, which could bring the county's financial nerve center to a standstill.
The storm could cause the worst flooding Connecticut has seen in more than 70 years, said the state's governor, Dannel P. Malloy.
Government forecasters at the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said as the storm approached land it became increasingly pointless to predict the precise landfall.
"It is still too soon to focus on the exact track ... both because of forecast uncertainty and because the impacts are going to cover such a large area away from the center," the NHC said in an advisory.
Sandy was located about 275 miles (445 km) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, with top sustained winds of 75 miles (120 km) per hour early Sunday, the NHC said.
The storm was moving over the Atlantic parallel to the US coast at 14 miles per hour (22 kph), but was forecast to make a tight westerly turn toward the US coast on Sunday night.