Sandy sends high winds, flooding to Fla. - KMSP-TV

Sandy sends high winds, flooding to Fla.

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MIAMI (AP) -

Hurricane Sandy hit Ft. Lauderdale Friday, sending storm surges over the seawall and submerging scenic highwat A1A underneath the Atlantic Ocean.

Crews worked with front end loaders and shovels to clear away the mess.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect for parts of Florida's east coast, and officials have been warning of dangerous rip currents.

Sandy brushed by Florida with tropical storm force winds after bearing down on the Bahamas and causing 40 deaths across the Caribbean.

The death toll was still rising in impoverished Haiti, reaching 26 on Friday as word of disasters reached officials and rain continued to fall.

Sandy was a Category 2 hurricane when it wreaked havoc in Cuba on Thursday, killing 11 people in eastern Santiago and Guantanamo provinces as its howling winds and rain destroyed thousands of houses and ripped off roofs. Authorities said it was Cuba's deadliest storm since July 2005, when category 5 Hurricane Dennis killed 16 people and caused $2.4 billion in damage.

Northeastern U.S. braces for unprecedented storm

It is churning toward the U.S. East Coast, where it threatens to join forces with winter weather fronts to create a devastating super storm that will smack the East Coast harder and wider than last year's damaging Irene, forecasters said Friday.

The brunt of the weather mayhem will be concentrated where the hurricane comes ashore early Tuesday, but there will be hundreds of miles of steady, strong and damaging winds and rain for the entire Eastern region for several days, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As of Friday morning, federal forecasters were looking closer at the Delaware shore as the spot it will turn inland and merge with a wintry storm front. But there is a lot of room for error in the forecast and the storm could turn into shore closer to New York and New Jersey and bring the worst weather there.

Wherever Sandy comes ashore will get 10 inches of rain and extreme storm surges, Louis Uccellini, NOAA's environmental prediction director, said in a Friday news conference.

Other areas not directly on Sandy's entry path will still get 4 to 8 inches of rain, maybe more, he said. Up to 2 feet of snow should fall on West Virginia, with lighter snow in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania, regardless of where Sandy first hits.

LINK: Track Sandy at www.myfoxhurricane.com

A wide swath of the East, measuring several hundreds of miles, will get persistent gale-force winds in the 50 mph area, with some areas closer to storm landfall getting closer to 70 mph, said James Franklin, forecast chief for the National Hurricane Center.

"It's going to be a long-lasting event, two to three days of impact for a lot of people," Franklin said. "Wind damage, widespread power outages, heavy rainfall, inland flooding and somebody is going to get a significant surge event."

That storm surge will only be magnified by the full moon this weekend to make it a "dangerous period," Uccellini said.

Sandy is "looking like a very serious storm that could be historic," said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the forecasting service Weather Underground.

Some have compared the tempest to the so-called Perfect Storm that struck off the coast of New England in 1991, but that one hit a less populated area. Nor is this one like last year's Halloween storm, which was merely an early snowfall.

"The Perfect Storm only did $200 million of damage and I'm thinking a billion" this time, Masters said. "Yeah, it will be worse."

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