Howling Winter Storm Cuts Power Across Northeast

Workers clear an overpass of snow in New York City i

Workers with the New York City State Department of Transportation clear an overpass of snow on February 26, 2010 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. New York City is forecast to receive 20 inches of snow by Saturday morning. Spencer Platt/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Workers clear an overpass of snow in New York City

Workers with the New York City State Department of Transportation clear an overpass of snow on February 26, 2010 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. New York City is forecast to receive 20 inches of snow by Saturday morning.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A woman's umbrella was turned inside out from a gust of wind during a winter storm in Philadelphia. i

A woman's umbrella was turned inside out from a gust of wind during a winter snow storm Thursday in Philadelphia. Matt Rourke/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Matt Rourke/AP
A woman's umbrella was turned inside out from a gust of wind during a winter storm in Philadelphia.

A woman's umbrella was turned inside out from a gust of wind during a winter snow storm Thursday in Philadelphia.

Matt Rourke/AP

A major winter storm battered the Northeast on Friday, with high winds and more that 2 feet of snow that made travel dangerous and knocked out power to more than a million homes and businesses.

Power failures were so bad in New Hampshire — 330,000 customers in the dark in a state of 1.3 million people — that even the state Emergency Operations Center in Concord was operating on a generator as hurricane-force winds of up to 91 mph toppled trees and power lines.

National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Korty said some areas of New England have been pelted by rain while others are enduring snow and high winds.

"This is a dangerous storm," Korty said. "The very high winds over areas where obviously they have had snow are going to produce almost blizzard-like conditions. Visibilities are going to be quite low, so people should be very careful when they're traveling."

Korty said New York, parts of northern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania were feeling the brunt of the storm.

The New York City area's three major airports have canceled more than 1,000 flights, according to a spokesman, who advised travelers to check with airlines before heading to the airport. By late morning, things began clearing up to the south, with three of Philadelphia International Airport's four runways open.

More than 2 feet of snow fell on sections of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maine, causing officials to close some roadways. The snow was so deep that New Jersey transit officials canceled bus service, forcing some commuters to stay home.

In northeastern Pennsylvania, National Guard members rescued 70 high school students and chaperones when their buses got stuck in heavy snow on Route 374 on a ski trip in mountainous Susquehanna County. Multiple crashes have closed a 60-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

At the peak of the power outages early Friday, there were 260,000 customers without power in Connecticut, and 220,000 customers in New York state. There were 140,000 in Maine, 100,000 in Massachusetts, 25,000 in Vermont, and 11,000 in New Jersey. Those numbers began falling as crews got to work, in some places contending with toppled trees and deep snow that made it difficult to move around.

James C. Van Dongen, public information officer for New Hampshire's Homeland Security & Emergency Management, told the Union Leader newspaper that the southern half of the state was in the dark and telephone lines were also down. Public Service of New Hampshire, the state's largest utility, said it would take days before everyone's lights flickered back on.

Firefighters said damaging winds from the storm whipped up a fire that engulfed an entire block of businesses in the seaside town of Hampton, N.H., including the landmark Surf Hotel.

The slow-moving storm dumped about 17 inches of snow in New York City, causing the nation's largest public school system to cancel classes for the second time this winter — only the fourth snow day in six years. A man was killed in Central Park when a snow-laden tree branch snapped off and fell on him. It was one of at least three deaths being blamed on the storm.

Eric Warner of Brooklyn had to brave it. He drove a truckload of milk, eggs and cheese from Teaneck, N.J., into Manhattan. The roads were terrible, he said, and even carrying the crates was hard. "When the snow hits you, it feels like little needles," he said.

In some regions, heavy rain was the challenge. Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman Peter Judge said a coastal flood warning was in effect in many areas ahead of the morning's high tide.

"Last night, we saw splash over, roads closed or, at least, dangerous travel along coastal roads. We're expecting a little more of that" on Friday, Judge said.

Written by NPR's Deborah Tedford, with reporting from Kathleen McNerney of member station WBUR in Boston and Doug Doyle of WBGO in Newark.

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