The National Weather Service says it's not a matter of "if" Sandy will hit New Jersey but "when."

New Jersey will begin to feel the effects of Sandy today as winds begin to pick up and heavy rains starts to fall in southern areas and moving north.

Not much has changed in the National Weather Service forecast since a briefing was issued Saturday night called for "strong damaging sustained winds" of 35-50 MPH from from Sandy as it arrives as more of an intense Nor'easter than a hurricane. "Major to record flooding" is expected on along rivers & streams and along the coast along with "extremely heavy rainfall." The strongest winds are expected east and south of the I-95 corridor.

Sustained wind gusts of 75 MPH are expected along the coast.

The NWS warns that even if the track of the storm changes, New Jersey is still in the path of a "dangerous storm." High tides on Monday will be the most dangerous for the barrier islands, which are under a mandatory evacuation by Governor Christie as of 4PM Sunday afternoon. Expected record high tides will likely cut the barrier island communities off from the mainland.

Governor Christie on Saturday declared a state of emergency, traveling to East Keansburg and North Wildwood after meeting with his cabinet at the Office of Emergency Management "bunker" in West Trenton where he plans to ride out the storm.

All across New Jersey stores were inundated as water, generators, flashlights and batteries were taken off shelves. Lines wrapped around gas stations for a final fill-up before the storm.

NJ Transit is preparing for a possible shutdown and tolls on the entire westbound Atlantic City Expressway are suspended as of 6AM Sunday morning. The northbound Garden State Parkway will also be toll free from Cape May to the Driscoll Bridge.

Utilities are warning customers to be ready for long outages. Christie says his office understands the need for conditions to improve before crews head out but will also be watching to make sure there are no unnecessary delays in restoring power.

Toms River has postponed its annual Halloween Parade to a date to be announced following the storm.

Atlantic City's 12 casinos will close on Sunday for only the fourth time in the 34-year history of legalized gambling here. The approach of Hurricane Irene shut down the casinos for three days last August.

Atlantic City officials said they would begin evacuating the city's 30,000 residents at noon Sunday, busing them to mainland shelters and schools.