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Storm batters Northeastern US, knocking out power, grounding flights and flooding roads

Power was knocked out for more than 600,000 customers in an area stretching from Virginia north through New England

Floodwaters fill the residential street of Rau Court, in the Hamilton Beach neighborhood in the Queens borough of New York City, U.S., September 29, 2023.
Floodwaters fill the residential street of Rau Court, in the Hamilton Beach neighborhood in the Queens borough of New York City, U.S., September 29, 2023.BING GUAN (REUTERS)

A storm barreled up the East Coast on Monday, flooding roads and downing trees in the Northeast, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands, and forcing flight cancelations and school closures.

More than 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain had fallen in parts of New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania by mid-morning, and parts in several other states got more than 4 inches (10 centimeters), according to the National Weather Service. Wind gusts reached nearly 70 mph (113 kph) along the southern New England shoreline.

Power was knocked out for more than 600,000 customers in an area stretching from Virginia north through New England, including over 237,000 in Massachusetts and 141,000 in Maine, according to poweroutage.us. Maine’s largest utility, Central Maine Power, reported that 17% of its customers were without power.

In Maine, Gov. Janet Mills said all state offices would close for the afternoon.

“With the storm expected to grow stronger in the coming hours, I encourage all Maine people to be safe and vigilant and to exercise caution when traveling,” she said in a statement.

The 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.

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 (50 kilometers) 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.

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 but was 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 cancelled 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 numbers 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.

Commuter rail systems were reporting weather-related delays. “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 (centimeters) of lake-effect snow were expected Monday night into Tuesday as temperatures drop.

The storm moved 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 (16 degrees Celsius) to the Northeast on Monday.

In South Carolina on Sunday, the tide in Charleston Harbor reached 9.86 feet (3 meters) 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.

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