Northeast winter storm knocks out power, closes schools
By Rodrique Ngowi and Kathy McCormack
PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A winter storm dumped heavy, wet snow in parts of the Northeast on Tuesday, causing tens of thousands of power outages, widespread school closings, dangerous driving conditions and a plane to slide off a taxiway.
The storm's path included parts of New England, upstate New York, northeastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey. Snow totals by the time it winds up Wednesday were expected to range from a few inches to a few feet, depending on the area.
About two feet of snow fell in parts of northern New York and the Catskill Mountains, and Gov. Kathy Hochul said some areas could get an additional foot of snow by Wednesday morning. In New Hampshire, state police asked drivers to stay off the roads Tuesday afternoon due to whiteout conditions. State Police said they had dealt with more than 120 crashes.
In Derry, New Hampshire, firefighters and police officers used chain saws, shovels and their bare hands to rescue a girl who was trapped under a fallen tree. Authorities said the girl had been playing outside near a parent who was clearing snow when the tree fell on her. The girl was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
All northbound lanes of Interstate 95 on the Piscataqua River Bridge between Maine and New Hampshire were shut down after two tractor trailer trucks became stuck on the bridge due to icy conditions.
In the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, heavy, wet snow made driving treacherous, weighing down tree limbs and causing several spinouts. Further east in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, where as much as 18 inches (45 centimeters) of snow was reported to have fallen, Jean Guerrer said the conditions were too dangerous for him to drive to work as a Boston-based taxi driver.
The storm in the Northeast came as California faced warnings of more flooding, potentially damaging winds and difficult travel conditions on mountain highways as a new atmospheric river pushed into the swamped state early Tuesday. So far this winter, California has been battered by 10 previous atmospheric rivers, long plumes of moisture from the Pacific Ocean, as well as powerful storms fueled by arctic air that produced blizzard conditions.
A Delta Air Lines plane veered off a paved surface as it taxied for takeoff from a Syracuse, New York, airport Tuesday morning. Flight 1718, which was bound for New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, slid into a grassy area north of the runway, forcing passengers off the plane and onto buses back to the terminal, according to airport officials. No one was injured and the airport remained open.
“During a departure taxi-out this morning, the nose gear of a Delta aircraft exited the paved surface of a taxiway,” Delta said in a statement. “This was not an airplane skidding off a runway.”
Delta said the plane carried 58 customers and a flight crew of five.
More than 400 flights traveling to, from or within the U.S. were canceled Tuesday, with Boston and New York City area airports seeing the highest number of scrubbed flights, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.
The storm shut down state and local government offices in Maine, where snow arrived later in the day. Portland, the state’s largest city, declared an overnight parking ban to allow for snowplowing.
The state’s largest utility, Central Maine Power, reported about 8,000 power outages on Tuesday afternoon. The majority of those were in southern Maine, especially in York County. But more were expected as snow was set to intensify in Maine overnight.
In Massachusetts, there were more than 57,000 customers without power Tuesday evening. More than 30,000 electricity customers were affected in Vermont. In New Hampshire, Eversource reported more than 60,300 customers effected by outages.
The National Weather Service said that in New York, 2 inches (5 centimeters) of snow per hour or more was falling in higher elevations in the eastern Catskills through the mid-Hudson Valley, central Taconics and Berkshires. Wet, heavy snow snapped tree branches and downed power lines across New York’s capital region with power outages hitting homes and businesses in the Albany area.
Dustin Reidy, a county legislator who lives in Albany, said he stocked up on groceries and prepared an emergency bin of candles, flashlights, and extra batteries ahead of the storm.
“I don’t think the storm is as bad in my neck of the woods, but I give a lot of credit to the snow plows,” said Reidy, who was working from home. He said snow plows crews were outside since early morning to ensure roads were clear.
The snowfall totals will be among the highest of the season, said meteorologist Andrew Orrison of the weather service office in College Park, Maryland.
“It has been below average for snowfall across the Northeast this year, and so this nor'easter will be very impactful," he said.
While higher elevations get snow, authorities warned residents in coastal areas to watch for possible flooding because of heavy rains. The National Weather Service in New York said wind gusts could reach 50 mph (80 kph) across Long Island and lower Connecticut.
Rain was turning into snow across parts of New England with winds picking up and power outages reported across the region. In New Hampshire, it was Election Day for town officeholders, but more than 70 communities postponed voting because of the storm.
In Kingston, New Hampshire, police offered voters rides to the polls. In Weare, power was knocked out at the polling place, forcing officials to set up battery-powered lights until a generator could be brought in. Interstate 93, the state’s main north-south route, was shut down in Londonderry in both directions around 12:30 p.m. after electrical wires came down across the highway.
In Connecticut, state government offices and courts were closed Tuesday. State offices were also closed in New York.
The weather service said expected snow totals from the storm, which is forecast to wind up Wednesday, range from more than 2 feet (1 meter) in higher elevations in New York, New Hampshire and western Massachusetts, to 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) in Boston.
McCormack reported from Concord, New Hampshire. Associated Press writers Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire; Maysoon Kahn in Albany, New York; Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, New York; and Bobby Caina Calvan in New York contributed to this reported.
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