Updated: Sandy sinks tall ship-bearing down on East Coast

By: KLKN Newsroom

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Hurricane Sandy is now expected to blow ashore in New jersey or Delaware by this evening — hours sooner than previously expected. The storm has picked up some forward speed. It's already washed away a part of the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

And it's threatening to cripple Wall Street and New York's subway system with a huge surge of seawater. By midafternoon, the storm was 85 miles southeast of Atlantic City, its winds at 90 miles an hour. Forecasters warn it will combine with two other weather systems to create an epic superstorm. From Washington to Boston, subways, buses, trains and schools are shut down. More than 7,000 flights are grounded.

The New York Stock Exchange is closed. And hundreds of thousands of people are under orders to move to higher ground. With just over a week to go before Election Day, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are suspending their campaigning. After returning to the White House from Florida, Obama urged those in harm's way to “listen to what your state and local officials are saying.'' With tropical storm-force winds extending almost 500 miles from the storm's center, other major cities across the Northeast also prepared to for the worst. Maryland's governor warns that people will die in the storm.

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) _ The Coast Guard is using a helicopter and an airplane to search for two crew members who are missing from a replica tall ship that has sank in rough seas off the North Carolina coast. The Coast Guard was able to rescue 14 crew members Monday morning after the HMS Bounty began taking on water, but two crew members are adrift in heavy seas. Officials say they are in survival suits that are designed to help keep them afloat and protect them against cold waters for about 15 hours.

Coast Guard rescue swimmer Randy Haba helped rescue crew members from a lifeboat and also helped save a crew member floating alone in the water. He says it was some of the biggest seas he has ever been in. NEW YORK (AP) _ Hurricane Sandy is gaining strength and has taken a left turn toward the East Coast and its date with two other weather systems. An official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is calling it “the worst-case scenario.''

The storm, with tropical storm-force winds extending almost 500 miles from its center, is expected to blow ashore along the New Jersey coast tonight or early tomorrow. Combined with high tides and a full moon, it brings the fear of a huge surge of seawater. The combined storm is expected to affect everyone from the East Coast to the Great Lakes, with up to 3 feet of snow forecast for the West Virginia mountains.

 The Coast Guard says it has rescued 14 members of the crew forced to abandon the tall ship HMS Bounty off North Carolina's Outer Banks. It's still searching for two more crew members. Airlines have canceled thousands of flights in the Northeast and air travel could come to a halt for at least two days.

That has caused a ripple effect across the globe. There's significant damage to a large ocean pier in the Maryland beach resort of Ocean City. Police say it happened overnight before the worst of the storm even hit.

NEW YORK (AP) _ Mayor Michael Bloomberg says New York City schools will remain closed on Tuesday as Hurricane Sandy approaches. The city had closed its 1.1 million-student district _ the nation's largest _ on Monday because of the superstorm threatening the city with a storm surge of up to 11 feet.

Bloomberg says schools will remain closed because there's “no chance'' that mass transit will be restored by Tuesday. The city shut down its subways, buses and commuter trains ahead of the superstorm.

The worst of the storm is expected to hit the city Monday evening. Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier Monday said that two key tunnels to Manhattan that are prone to flooding would close Monday afternoon. Financial exchanges were also closed in New York today.