WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama called on Americans Sunday to take Hurricane Sandy "very seriously," urging them to heed the instructions of local and state authorities.

"This is a serious and big storm. And my first message is to all people across the eastern seaboard, mid-Atlantic going north, you need to take this very seriously," he said.

"Follow the instructions of your state and local officials because they are going to be providing you with the best advice in terms of how to deal with this storm over the coming days," he said.

Obama, who spoke after being briefed on the approaching storm at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said it was a slow moving storm that would take a long time to clear and recover from.

"We don't yet know where it's going to hit, where we're going to see the biggest impacts, and that's exactly why it's so important for us to respond big and respond fast as local information starts coming in," he said.

Watch video, courtesy of The Associated Press, below: