MTA to Begin Shutdown of Mass Transit at 7 p.m. as Mandatory Evacuations Ordered for Low-Lying Areas
With potentially historic Hurricane Sandy barreling toward the tri-state area, the MTA will begin to shut down the region's mass-transportation system at 7 p.m. Sunday and city officials have enacted mandatory evacuation for the more than a quarter-of-a-million residents of low-lying areas.

The transit shutdown process will begin at 7 p.m. and should be completed by early morning. The last subway, Metro-North and LIRR trains will depart at 7 p.m. and the final bases will roll out at 9 p.m. Forecasters are calling for high winds and large coastal surges on Monday powered by the large storm, whose impact will ultimately be felt as far west as the Ohio Valley.

Officials are encouraging residents of the tri-state area to hunker down at home. Such a transit shutdown leaves the very realistic possibility of up to two full work days without mass transit service. Motorists may be stranded, too, as MTA bridges will be shut down if winds exceed 60 miles per hour.

New York City residents who live in Zone A are under mandatory evacuation. That includes people living in Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, and Red Hook and other areas along the East River in Brooklyn. Also included are all of the Rockaways, and Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel in Queens; almost all the coastal areas of Staten Island; City Island, a small patch of Throgs Neck; and other patches of the South Bronx. In Manhattan, the area includes Battery Park City and stretches of the West Side waterfront, as well as the Lower East Side and East Village.

City parks closed at 5 p.m., and all construction work is suspended. Officials are urging residents to stock up now on supplies as the storm nears.

The states of New York and New Jersey have declared a state of emergency as officials prepare for the storm that could make landfall on Monday in southern New Jersey around 2 a.m. Tuesday. The storm could dump several inches of rain and will be accompanied by significant flooding and coastal surges, and will unleash damaging winds. Regardless of where the storm makes landfall, the effects of the massive storm will be widely felt, especially in low-lying areas prone to flooding. Parts of the Northeast could be left without electricity or other key services for significant periods, officials warned in urging preparations.

Sandy is expected to converge with another weather system, known as a mid-level trough, that's approaching from the west. The combined storm, reminiscent of the famous "Perfect Storm" on Halloween in 1991, raise the specter of a potentially historic weather event for the region.

An additional complication: Monday is a full moon which means the area will experience astronomical high tide in conjunction with the storm, which will exacerbate the effects of high tide. This will persist through Tuesday's high tide cycle as well.

A mandatory evacuation is now in effect for the more than a quarter-of-a-million people living in the so-called "low-lying" areas of the city's five boroughs, the places that fall within Zone A.