(ABC News) --A ferocious superstorm Sandy barrelled ashore this evening, crashing into New Jersey with high winds and a powerful surge of flood waters.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that the landfall will be "accompanied by life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds."
The storm has lost a bit of its wallop and was down graded from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone, according to NOAA.
Sandy's forward motion accelerated throughout the day, as the storm took a left turn towards the East Coast. Previous estimates were for it to hit Atlantic City about midnight.
Hours before Sandy's arrival on land, power was being cut to New York City's financial district amd most of Atlantic City was already under several feet of water as waves crashed over the sea wall, spitting up chunks of the famed boardwalk.
Atlantic City officials implemented an emergency curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and a travel ban has been put in effect.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had harsh words for Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford who told residents they could shelter in place instead of moving inland.
Christie told residents that it was now too dangerous for crews to go in to rescue people who chose to stay, and they would have to "ride out the storm" and wait until daylight.
"For those people who ignored my warnings, this is what you have to deal with now," the clearly irked governor said.
President Obama, who left the campaign trail just a week before the election, cautioned that the storm will impact millions of Americans.
"Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying," he said today from the White House briefing room. "When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Do not delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given, because this is a serious storm and could potentially have fatal consequences if people haven't acted."
The president abandoned the campaign trail with only days left before the election, canceling events in the key battleground of Florida to return to Washington.
As of this evening, more than 2.5 million power outages had been reported. Last year, Hurricane Irene left 7 million homes without power in the same area Sandy is expected to batter with wind and rain.
It is packing top winds of 80 mph and waves are approaching 20 feet off the coast of Long Island and have exceeded 30 feet off the coast of the Carolinas, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The force of Sandy, already a menacing storm system, will be multiplied as it combines with several systems to potentially wreak havoc from North Carolina to New England as far west as the Great Lakes.
The Northeast has been paralyzed by the storm. The stock market is closed today, the first unscheduled, market-wide close since September 2001, according to the NASDAQ website. Also in New York, the city's public transportation has been completely shutdown for the second time in history. The first time was for last year's Hurricane Irene.
By morning, waves were already washing over the seawall and into Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, the country's financial center. The city's utility, Consolidated Edison, is starting to shut down power from Wall Street to the southern tip of Manhattan.
"It's already at Irene levels and the question is going to be what level the surge will take us to later on this afternoon and this evening when it's actually high tide," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference today.
The turbulent weather has brought much of the region's transportation to a halt. Paralyzed airports have stranded people all over the country. Over 10,000 flights have been cancelled so far, according to Flight Aware. It is grounding planes throughout Europe since they can't land at their U.S. destinations.