NEW YORK - Hurricane Sandy is expected to cause record power outages in New York City, Consolidated Edison Co. of New York officials said on Monday. The utility company delivers power for some 9 million people in and around the city. As of around 4 p.m. on on Monday, more than 47,000 ConEd customers were without power.
A customer refers to a single meter, which means many more individuals were affected.
"We're not close to breaking the record yet, but the storm is just kicking in," said ConEd spokesman Allan Drury. "The record is last Aug. 28, Hurricane Irene."
Irene knocked out power to 203,821 meters. ConEd continued to warn that it could opt to shut down service to a wide swath of customers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn in order to avoid extensive equipment damage and enable faster restoration.
A senior vice president for the utility, John Miksad, told reporters in a conference call that the move would be "unprecedented." ConEd said it would continue to monitor flooding severity and make a decision. A spokeswoman for the utility said she expects the call to be made closer to high tide, between 7-9 p.m. Monday.
Connecticut Light & Power reported more than 70,000 outages Monday afternoon. More than 10,000 customers in the Philadelphia area had lost power, according to PECO. Outages in and around Washington, D.C., remained relatively sparse as of mid-afternoon. "I noticed some small limbs down, the winds were starting to pick up," PEPCO spokesman Marcus Beal said. "I think the worst is yet to come."
In New Jersey, Public Service Electric & Gas saw a dramatic six-fold increase in outages - from about 6,200 customers without power to 36,000 outages - in the span of an hour Monday afternoon as winds picked up. National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Szatkowski said that as the rain continues to soak the ground, trees will be uprooted even as the wind dies down on Tuesday afternoon.
"Things are still going downhill very rapidly," Szatkowski said. "It's going to be a very rough 18 to 24 hours. The worst of it will be tonight into tomorrow morning."
Szatkowski said the storm's transformation from a hurricane into a nor'easter has been interesting, but its sharp left turn and rapid acceleration into the coast is what makes it unlike anything he - or anyone else - has ever seen.
"That's unprecedented," Szatkowski said. "I can't point you to any storms that have behaved like that. I'm not saying it never happened. It could have a couple hundred years ago. But certainly no one alive has seen a storm do this."