Curiosity turned to concern in the New York City area as the big storm arrived on Monday. Here are some of the stories.
Stephen Weisbrot thought his building would be the safest place in the storm. Then he watched the water move up his street with a feeling of helplessness. Late Monday night, he had two and a half feet of water in his lobby, no power and worries about food.
"It's really a complete ghost town now. My apartment now has a waterfront view," Weisbrot said from his tenth-floor apartment in Lower Manhattan. "There was an explosion in the sky earlier, and I heard rumors it was Con Ed. It sounded like the Fourth of July. "
All he could see was the occasional light from flashlights in other apartments. He expected to be stuck at home for a couple of days.
"My fear is food, now that the refrigerator without power, and Lower Manhattan should be without food for quite a while," Weisbrot said. "I stocked up on a bunch of stuff and cooked a bunch of it, but I don't know how long it will last."
He planned to go out exploring in the morning. "I'm here with my boyfriend," he said. "We've been playing Monopoly and drinking beer while it's still cold. I think the best thing is to have a few more drinks, go to sleep and wake up early."
A young man near the New York Stock Exchange said he's ankle-deep in water and trying to save his business.
Andrew Auernheimer was in the basement of his data center Monday night, surrounded by high-voltage lines powered by a generator. The 27-year-old said it's nearing time to shut it all down.
"There's water dripping through the roof, and it's a Starbucks," he said. "If it collapses, we're all dead."
Auernheimer said colleagues have reported cars floating in the street. "It's crazy out there," he said. "There's definitely an element of danger."
He lives in Brooklyn and couldn't go home. When it gets too bad in the basement, he and colleagues planned to move to their other space on the seventh floor.
"I'm feeling OK, and, you know, I have faith that things will turn out for us," he said. "We're hoping to not lose everything. "
In Battery Park City, a collection of high rises on the southern tip of Manhattan, people continued to jog and admire the view as the Hudson River started lapping over onto the sidewalk.
Ozzie Pomales, a doorman in the area, said almost everybody in the building obeyed the evacuation order in advance of the storm.
Sandbags blocked the building's revolving door.
Tanja Stewart and her 7-year-old son, Finn, who live just outside the evacuation zone, were among the people out admiring the water.
Finn had a pair of binoculars around his neck. "I really wanted to see some big waves," he said.
New Yorkers weren't the only intrepid pedestrians outside watching the storm.
"My sister called me from Spain, and she said, 'Are you crazy? Why aren't you inside?'" said Juan Sanchez, a Spaniard taking a walk along the Hudson River with his wife and baby boy around noon Monday.
Minutes earlier, a city parks department truck rolled past pedestrians on the walkway along the water, announcing that Riverside Park was closed.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please leave," a man's voice said, amplified from the truck.
Sanchez, a 36-year-old businessman from Barcelona, arrived Sunday to prepare to run next weekend's New York City Marathon.
On the eastern end of Long Island, cars were getting towed out of four feet of water on a narrow stretch of Route 25 alongside a marina in Greenport which was almost completely underwater Monday morning. Water was washing over the docks and into the street and rising rapidly.
Most of the stores were deserted Monday morning and boarded up. Fishing boats rocked violently against the docks, which were barely visible above the rising tide. Most of the town has been ordered to evacuate, but it was unclear how many people had actually heeded the order.
Sean Seal, 35, was still piling dirt and sandbags onto the alleyway behind his collectibles store, where the water was steadily creeping up the street toward his front door. He had already piled all of the merchandise onto tables about a foot above the floor, but he worried that he might lose everything in the storm. He only opened the shop about two months ago.
"Now we're gonna hope for the best," he said.
High above the Hudson River, some avid Manhattan birdwatchers set up their post for a very specific purpose: To catch sight of exotic birds that normally live thousands of miles away.
They hoped some so-called storm petrels and white-tailed tropicbird would "get trapped in the eye of the hurricane, and drop out as the storm moves inland," said Peter Scully, a 30-year-old lawyer aiming his scope at the air above the Hudson.
He and a handful of other birdwatchers lined up just inside a stone terrace of the Boat Basin Cafe on Manhattan's West Side.
There's even a name for this special hobby: storm-birding.
Contributing to this report were Frank Eltman and Meghan Barr on Long Island, Karen Matthews and Verena Dobnik in Manhattan, Michael Virtanen in Schoharie and Michael Hill in Elmira.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.