Hurricane Sandy continued to create havoc with airline and cruise schedules Monday as it neared landfall in New Jersey.
Non-stop international flights from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport were mostly running on schedule early Monday afternoon, but most flights with stops on the East Coast from North Carolina to New York were cancelled. Even flights to cities far inland like Cleveland and Pittsburgh were being scrubbed.
The storm forced United Airlines to cancel 3,700 flights from yesterday through Wednesday, according to NBC Chicago, while American Airlines had scratched 1,500. Cots were set up at O’Hare to accommodate stranded travelers.
At 1 p.m. CDT, the center of Hurricane Sandy was about 100 miles southeast of Atlantic City, N.J., according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm was moving to the northwest at 28 mph. Forecasters at the NHC expected Sandy to make landfall in southern New Jersey by early evening.
A U.S. Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft investigating the storm reported that Sandy had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended out up to 175 miles from the center of the storm.
“Hurricane-force winds are expected along portions of the coast between Chincoteague, Va. And Chatham, Mass.,” the hurricane center reported. “This includes the tidal Potomac from Cobb Island to Smith Point, the middle and upper Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay and the coasts of the northern Delmarva Peninsula, New Jersey, the New York City area, Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.”
Long Island already was reporting wind gusts up to 63 mph.
Even more concerning than the wind was the strong storm surge expected to accompany the hurricane. Long Island Sound, Raritan Bay, and New York harbor could see flooding 6-11 feet deep in normally dry areas along the coast, according to the NHC.
“This is a serious storm, but we are going to do what it takes to keep people safe and secure, and make sure the communities affected get the assistance they need,” President Barack Obama said in an email Monday afternoon. “FEMA is working with state and local governments to respond effectively. We all owe a debt of thanks to the first responders who will be dealing with the immediate impact of the storm.”
The New York port was closed and the U.S. Coast Guard has not determined when it might re-open, according to Norwegian Cruise Lines, which advised people scheduled to embark on Norwegian Gem to stay at home. That cruise vessel is remaining at sea today. At last report, it was sailing well to the northwest of the center of the hurricane.
Norwegian Dawn was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the cruise line said it would remain there at least until tomorrow. Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas also was remaining in Canada rather than sailing south. The ship cancelled a port of call in Bar Harbor, Maine scheduled for Tuesday and instead will remain at St. John, New Brunswick.
Two other ships, the Emerald Princess and the Seven Seas Navigator, canceled plans to visit Bar Harbor on Halloween, a local website reported. After departing Quebec City, the Emerald Princess visited Saguenay, Quebec Sunday instead of sailing up the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Jewel of the Seas, another Royal Caribbean vessel, did not depart Boston as scheduled Sunday and will remain in port there at least until tomorrow.
Carnival Cruises cancelled departures from Norfolk and Baltimore Sunday.
Ships trying to sail along the East Coast in advance of Sandy had a difficult time of it. CNN offered a report from passengers aboard the Disney Fantasy, who experienced very rough weather from the storm over the weekend.