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US battens down hatches ahead of storms

US battens down hatches ahead of storms New York is preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy

Aviation in the United States will be severely disrupted in the coming days as a hybrid storm batters the east coast of the country.

Forecasters have said Hurricane Sandy, which is presently headed for highly populated areas of the US will become a super-storm when it collides with cold weather fronts from the west and north.

In preparation thousands of people have been ordered to leave their homes and evacuation shelters have been set up in 76 schools in New York City.

As many as 6,800 transatlantic and domestic flights have been cancelled, while the New York Stock Exchange has also been closed.

Thousands more flight cancellations are also expected tomorrow and Wednesday as the storm passes over the United States.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air France have all begun cancelling flights.

A number of states on the east coast have declared a state of emergency, with Sandy having already killed 60 people after sweeping through the Caribbean in the past week.

The vast hurricane, about 520 miles across, is moving slowly north and could linger over as many as 12 states for 24-36 hours, bringing up to 25cm of rain, 60cm of snow, extreme storm surges and power cuts.