By M. Alex Johnson NBC News updated 30 minutes ago
Hurricane Sandy began breaking up as it hit the New Jersey shore Monday evening on what's expected to be a destructive path across the Northeast, killing two people, plunging more than 3 million into darkness and crippling transportation across a huge swath of the Eastern U.S.
Sandy made landfall at Atlantic City, N.J., about 6:45 p.m. ET, throwing off sustained winds of 90 mph, NBC New York reported. By 8 p.m., its center was about 5 miles southwest of Atlantic City and about 40 miles northeast of Cape May, N.J. Maximum sustained winds had fallen to 80 mph.
The National Hurricane Center re-designated Sandy as a "post-tropical cyclone," saying it was rapidly losing its tropical characteristics as it merged into an enormous nor'easter. While it was still packing hurricane-force winds, the worst appeared to be over, said Bill Karins, a meteorologist with The Weather Channel.
At least three people were killed Monday:
- A 30-year-old man was found dead in Flushing in the New York borough of Queens, apparently after having been trapped beneath a tree that crashed into his home about 7 p.m. ET, police told NBC News.
- A second person was killed when a car hydroplaned over high water in Montgomery County, Md., in the suburbs of Washington, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley told MSNBC TV.
- A third person died after a tree fell in Mansfield, Conn., NBC Connecticut reported.
The National Weather Service predicted "historic and life-threatening coastal flooding" through Tuesday morning, with the greatest danger coming at high tide. That was coming as early as 8:53 p.m. ET at the southern tip of Manhattan, which is known as the Battery, to as late as midnight ET in Stamford, Conn.