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Deadly storm batters Northeastern US, knocking out power

Power was knocked out for more than 500,000 customers in an area stretching from Virginia north through New England. At least four people have died.
Deadly storm batters Northeastern US, knocking out power
Posted at 8:42 AM, Dec 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-18 22:33:48-05

A storm barreled up the East Coast on Monday, flooding roads and downing trees in the Northeast. At least four people have died as a result of the storm, which knocked out power to hundreds of thousands and forced flight cancellations and school closures.

More than 5 inches of rain had fallen in parts of New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania by mid-morning, and parts of several other states got more than 4 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Wind gusts reached nearly 70 mph along the southern New England shoreline.

Power was knocked out for more than 700,000 customers in an area stretching from Virginia north through New England, including over 278,000 in Massachusetts and 263,000 in Maine, according to poweroutage.us

An 89-year-old Hingham, Massachusetts, man was killed early Monday when high winds caused a tree to fall on a trailer, authorities said. In Windham, Maine, police said part of a tree fell and killed a man who was removing debris from his roof.

In Catskill, New York, a driver was killed after the vehicle went around a barricade on a flooded road and was swept into the Catskill Creek, the Times Union reported. A man was pronounced dead in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, after he was found in a submerged vehicle Monday morning.

On Sunday in South Carolina, one person died when their vehicle flooded on a road in a gated community in Mount Pleasant.

The National Weather Service issued flood and flash-flood warnings for New York City and the surrounding area, parts of Pennsylvania, upstate New York, western Connecticut, western Massachusetts and parts of New Hampshire and Maine.

“We are asking people to avoid traveling at this time if they can as most people are safest at home,” Vanessa Palange, a spokesperson for the New Hampshire Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said in a statement.

Trees and power lines fell in many areas, including some that landed on homes and cars. In the coastal town of Guilford, Connecticut, about 30 miles south of Hartford, a tree fell on a police cruiser but the officer escaped injury, officials said. Certain roads throughout the region were closed due to flooding or downed trees.

"Check your route before your morning commute, don't drive through standing water, and don't touch downed wires," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy posted on X. "Remember: Turn around, don't drown."

Heavy rain and high tides caused flooding along the Jersey Shore, leading authorities to block off roads near Barnegat Bay in Bay Head and Mantoloking. The flooding was made worse by leaf piles that residents had put out for collection that were blocking water from reaching drains.

In northeastern and central Pennsylvania, heavy rain that fell overnight flooded ponds, streams and creeks in several counties, forcing authorities to close several major roadways.

The Delaware River spilled over its banks in suburban Philadelphia, leading to road closures. In the suburb of Washington Crossing, crews placed barriers along roadways and worked to clear fallen tree limbs. Seven people died after flash flooding in that area over the summer.

Many flights were canceled or delayed across the region. Boston's Logan International Airport grounded all flights Monday morning because of the poor conditions, leading to more than 100 canceled flights and about 375 delays, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware. At New York City-area airports, nearly 80 flights were canceled and more than 90 were delayed.

In Rhode Island, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed parts of Providence’s hurricane barrier system to prevent flooding from storm surge, Mayor Brett Smiley said. The Providence River gates were closed in the morning and another gate was scheduled to close. City Hall in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was closed due to leaks and water damage from its landmark tower, the city posted online.

Some schools canceled classes, sent students home early or delayed their openings due to the storm. Among them were schools in Vermont that closed early. A number of roads were also closed around the state due to flooding, including in Ludlow, the southern Vermont community that was hit hard by flooding in July. And authorities urged people in the village of Moretown to evacuate 30 to 50 homes because of flooding.

"Take mass transit and stay off the roads if possible," New York City Mayor Eric Adams wrote on X.

In New York City, high winds caused the temporary closure of the Verrazzano Bridge. It reopened later Monday morning, but with a ban on large vehicles. Rhode Island officials also were prohibiting tractor-trailers on the Newport Pell and Jamestown Verrazzano bridges over Narragansett Bay because of the wind.

State government officials urged people to avoid traveling and driving on flooded roads.

In western New York, several inches of lake-effect snow were expected Monday night into Tuesday as temperatures drop.

The stormmoved up the East Coast on Saturday and Sunday, breaking rainfall records and requiring water rescues. It brought unseasonably warm temperatures of more than 60 degrees to the Northeast on Monday.

In South Carolina on Sunday, the tide in Charleston Harbor reached 9.86 feet just before noon, which was the fourth-highest reading ever.

"This was a tough and frustrating day for our citizens, as historic high tides came up and over the land in the city, flooding cars, homes, businesses and streets," Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said, adding there were no reports of serious injuries.

Tecklenburg said the city is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to protect against tidal flooding and to adapt to sea level rise and climate change.

Monday's rain and wind came a week after a storm caused flooding and power outages in the Northeast after spawning deadly tornadoes in Tennessee.

SEE MORE: Cleanup underway after tornadoes kill at least 6 in Tennessee


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