Thousands of New Yorkers were evacuating low-lying areas of the city as Frankenstorm Hurricane Sandy loomed closer water started to flood city streets.

Public transport in New York City, Washington DC and Philadelphia have been suspended, and the New York Stock Exchange, schools and businesses have shut down. Schools will remain closed also on Tuesday, NYC's mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of Lower Manhattan and Coney Island. Whole swathes of NYC were reportedly deserted.

The hurricane is expected to turn into a super-storm as it clashes with cold fronts coming from north and west.

High waves helped by the higher tides caused by the full moon are set to flood wide areas of the Atlantic coast.

The Hudson River has broken the banks around New York.