Canadian officials are urging those in the path of post-tropical storm Sandy to be prepared for at least 72 hours without power, while forecasters warn that some areas of the country could see more than 50 millimetres of rain and winds climbing beyond 100 km/h.
The storm could spawn the most widespread weather emergency since the ice storm of 1998, according to the Canadian Red Cross.
The agency has 550 volunteers on standby in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces, said John Byrne, director general of disaster management for the Red Cross.
Residents in central and eastern Canada will likely wake up to intense weather Tuesday morning. Southern Ontario and Quebec are expected to see the strongest winds with between 30 to 50 mm of rain, while the Atlantic provinces will see weaker winds but a lot more rain — up to 100 mm.
The storm is moving up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, and is predicted to make landfall in New Jersey before 9 p.m. It has already caused the cancellation of hundreds of flights to and from Eastern Canada.
Wind warnings were posted by Environment Canada covering much of southern Ontario, along with parts of Eastern Ontario and western Quebec along the St. Lawrence River.
"Southern Ontario, southern Quebec and southwestern Maritimes will experience high wind gusts and periods of heavy rain beginning later today and continuing into Tuesday," Environment Canada said in a bulletin.
Storm surge warnings were also issued for Quebec, near the mouth of the St. Lawrence and the Gaspé Peninsula.
Lake Huron could see waves of up to seven metres and the south shore of Nova Scotia can also expect several-metre high waves. The worst-hit area will likely be the southwestern corner of the province.
Parts of Ontario and western Quebec could see snow Tuesday.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre says parts of southern Ontario should brace for 90 km/h winds or higher, especially along western Lake Ontario, the Niagara Escarpment, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Ornge air ambulances have been grounded because of the weather.
CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland said the southern shores of the Great Lakes will see the risk of pounding waves and some shoreline flooding.
"If you're in the Niagara Region [or] if you're south of [Lake] Huron towards Sarnia, northerly winds will be piling that water up on shore," Scotland said. "Avoid being near the shore. The waves are fun to look at, but you'll be doing a dangerous thing to take in those sights."
Environment Canada said strong winds with gusts exceeding 90 km/h could also batter parts of Quebec.
"The chances of the gusts in the 60 to 90 km/h range are greatest in the evening and overnight," said Environment Canada meteorologist Etienne Gregoire.
"Typically, when you get in that range, you see branches broken off. With trees having a fair amount of leaves and the ground relatively wet ... it’s not impossible to see trees broken off and uprooted."
Gusts up to 80 km/h are expected along coastal areas of southwestern Nova Scotia, with slightly lower winds expected farther to the north and east, the weather agency said. The Atlantic provinces will also experience some rainfall and strong winds, as well as large waves and pounding surf.
"We have forecast offshore winds to reach probably 120 km/h … and seas will be building west of Nova Scotia, in the Gulf of Maine and at the mouth also of the Bay of Fundy," said forecaster Jean-Marc Couturier at the Canadian Hurricane Centre.
"We would be expecting probably wave heights to reach five [to] six metres in that area."
Southwestern New Brunswick should expect up to 40 mm of rain tomorrow and up to 80 mm over the next couple of days, Couturier said.
The Canadian Red Cross issued a statement Sunday urging people to prepare for the storm by stocking a number of supplies including water, food, flashlights and a first aid kit. Sandy could down trees and power lines and cause flooding, the organization said.
"Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours in an emergency,” Mike Morton, the Canadian Red Cross director of disaster management in Ontario, said in a release. "By taking some time now to store emergency food, water and other supplies, you can provide for your entire family during a power outage or evacuation."
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews issued a statement saying the federal government is monitoring post-tropical storm Sandy, whose designation was changed from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm Monday night, through the Government Operations Centre and the Canadian Hurricane Centre. He said Public Safety Canada is working closely with provincial agencies and urged those in potentially affected areas to check the website getprepared.gc.ca and have an emergency plan in place.
“We have taken precautionary steps to ensure that the federal government can aid the provinces affected, should the need arise. The Canadian Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard are standing by ready to assist, Health Canada is conducting generator checks and has reviewed the National Emergency Stockpile and the Government Operations Centre is working around the clock to ensure all necessary assets are in place."
People living in the affected areas are also being asked to refrain from storing anything that could become airborne outside of their homes.
Emergency Management Ontario said objects that can be blown away, such as garbage lids, outdoor furniture and Halloween decorations, should be brought inside or secured.
"Our primary goal at this point is to make sure that everybody understands that this is going to be a serious storm and that they have a part to play, so they need to be thinking about making sure that anything that's outside is secured or taken in," said Allison Stuart, the chief of Emergency Management Ontario.
Porter Airlines said it has cancelled all of its Toronto flights until noon Tuesday. Air Canada and WestJet have issued statements warning that flights to and from the U.S. northeast have been or will likely be cancelled in the coming days. Passengers are advised to check the status of all flights.
More than 300 flight cancellations were posted on the website for Toronto's Pearson International Airport by mid-morning Monday.
One crew member of the Nova Scotia-built replica vessel HMS Bounty is still missing after the crew abandoned ship off the coast of North Carolina in high seas brought on by Hurricane Sandy. Fourteen people were rescued and a woman's body was pulled from the ocean.
For more storm news check out the following:
For Toronto click here As Sandy heads for Toronto, Mayor Ford urges caution
For Nova Scotia click here Another HMS Bounty crew member found, 1 still missing
For Ottawa click here Hurricane Sandy to bring gusting winds, rain for Ottawa area