“Frankenstorm” Sandy has scared the wits out of Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama as it churns northward, leaving death in its trail while the projected fury of the storm could leave 60 million people without electricity.
Across the eastern United States, residents scrambled to stock up on supplies and secure homes as Hurricane Sandy -- billed as a superstorm -- lumbered north after leaving dozens dead in the Caribbean, AFP reported.
The so-called "Frankenstorm" was expected to make landfall somewhere between Virginia and Massachusetts early Tuesday, possibly causing chaos during the frenzied last days of campaigning before the November 6 presidential elections.
Sandy could cause "moderate coastal flooding and rough surf" through Monday, drenching the state with three to five inches (seven to 13 centimeters) of rain inland and as much as five to eight inches along the coast, they warned.
But emergency officials were far more worried about what could happen further north.
"This is a large storm that is forecasted to impact the (US) Mid-Atlantic and other parts of the East Coast with strong winds, coastal flooding, inland flooding, rain and snow," said Craig Fugate, head of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"People should be ready for the possibility of power outages paired with cold temperatures," he said in a statement.
Sandy's likely collision early next week with a seasonal "nor'easter" weather system was predicted to super-charge the storm, dragging it to the west where it is expected to slam into the coastal US states of Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and even inland Ohio.
Amtrak announced it was canceling some train services on Sunday, and New York City is considering closing the subway system due to fear of flooding.
Alex Sosnowski, an expert senior meteorologist for Accuweather.com, called Sandy "an extremely rare and dangerous storm [that] will be more like a large nor'easter on steroids.”
President Obama was briefed by top emergency officials Saturday, the White House said, and governors declared states of emergency in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the US capital Washington and a coastal county in North Carolina.
Concern was mounting that storm damage and power outages could have a major impact on voter turnout, polling station readiness and last-minute campaigning by Obama and Romney.
The start of early voting Saturday in Florida, Maryland, and Washington, DC brought long lines of voters, who, in some cases, wrapped around city blocks.
So far, at least 11 million people have already cast their ballots in states where early voting is underway, according to a tally by experts at George Mason University near Washington.
The president also has canceled two campaign events early next week to monitor developments related to Sandy.
Romney canceled appearances in Virginia to head for Ohio ahead of the hurricane's arrival, while Obama moved up his departure to Florida -- one of a handful of states where early voting got underway Saturday.
Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, canceled a visit to the battleground state of Virginia to allow law enforcement and emergency workers there to prepare for the advancing storm.