By Joseph Spector and Jessica Bakeman, Albany Bureau
ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for New York on Friday as Hurricane Sandy is expected to hit the East Coast this weekend.
Cuomo said it's unclear the impact of the storm on the state, but the declaration gets emergency crews ready to be deployed to wherever there may be extensive damage.
"We want to make sure we're ready just in case," Cuomo told reporters on Long Island.
He said the state will be prepared to use the National Guard when the storm hits, and the state is writing a pre-disaster declaration to help ensure federal funding is available for any cleanup.
New York dealt with heavy storm damage in last year's tropical storms Irene and Lee.
"I'd rather be prepared than unprepared," Cuomo said. "When the storm hits, it's too late."
Cuomo said he will cancel his plans to campaign for President Obama in Florida on Saturday. An emergency preparedness conference in Albany on Monday has been canceled.
"I'm going to be staying in the state. I'll be primarily based in New York City and Albany," Cuomo said.
For the 50 million people who live in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast - roughly one-sixth of the U.S. population - Hurricane Sandy's winds, rains and potential snow could ruin trick-or-treating plans next week, or worse.
A meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Buffalo said the storm will hit New York this weekend.
"It looks like the entire state is going to get a long period of heavy rain," Jon Hitchcock said. "It could rain for four, five days in a row, starting over the weekend and through most of next week."
Hitchcock said most of the state will get four to six inches of rain. Those living south of Albany might get up to nine inches.
"There is still a lot of uncertainty," he said. "Once we get a little closer -- by about Sunday, we should be able pin down more specifically where the heaviest rains will fall, where the strongest winds will be."
Late Friday morning, the center of Sandy was located about 25 miles north-northeast of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas, 460 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C. It remained a Category 1 hurricane, with a sustained wind speed of 80 mph.
"We are now 90 percent certain the storm will make landfall in the U.S.," said Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction.