Nor'easter slamming U.S. East Coast with heavy rain, strong winds
Airlines cancel more than 2,100 flights, Trump forced to change airports
A major nor'easter pounded the U.S. East Coast on Friday, packing heavy rain, intermittent snow and strong winds as residents from the mid-Atlantic to Maine braced for coastal flooding.
The Eastern Seaboard was buffeted by wind gusts exceeding 80 km/h, with possible hurricane-strength winds of around 130 km/h to 145 km/h on Cape Cod. Also, heavy snow fell in Ohio and upstate New York as the storm spun eastward.
In New York's Putnam County, an 11-year-old boy was killed by a downed tree that crashed through a house during the storm.
Winds in the area were gusting up to 95 km/h at the time, local media reported.
The major storm grounded thousands of flights, including more than 1,500 flights at New York's three major airports.
Amtrak reported track damage on one of its Washington lines, and eventually announced it was halting service on its busy northeast corridor until Saturday.
The late-season storm left more than 150,000 customers without power and closed schools across upstate New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a travel advisory for all areas north of New York City, requesting limited travel due to dangerous driving conditions.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker activated 200 National Guard members to help deal with the storm.
"We're expecting to see more severe flooding issues here than we did in the Jan. 4 storm," when a nor'easter lashed the region with heavy snow and rain, he said.
The storm knocked out power to 500,000 residences and businesses from Michigan to North Carolina. In D.C. alone, more than 100,000 customers lost power.
The Office of Personnel Management announced it would close all federal offices in the D.C. area for the day, while the Smithsonian museums also closed. Pennsylvania utilities report at least 65,000 outages in that state.
Residents were taking matters into their own hands.
In Duxbury, south of Boston, officials urged people to evacuate as soon as possible, and the fire department was preparing to use a high-water rescue vehicle for the first time to help any residents stuck in homes amid high floodwaters.
Michelle Shaffer, 45, of the coastal Massachusetts town of Hull, lost her appliances beneath almost two metres of water during the last big storm.
"I have a new washer, and my boyfriend just built a wooden platform for it. We got a couple of sump pumps," said Shaffer, who evacuated Thursday night. "This storm is going to be worse because it's going over three high tides," she said.
In New Jersey, officials worried that the storm could take a chunk out of beaches just south of Atlantic City that are being repaired because of damage from previous storms. Winds were expected to increase drastically throughout the day, peaking Friday afternoon with gusts from 80 km/h to around 95 km/h that could leave downed trees and power lines. Almost 5,000 customers were without power.
Despite our best effort to restore service between BOS and WAS today, we have determined at this time it is not safe to do so. Hazardous conditions for our customers & crews have led us to cancel all Amtrak service on the Northeast Corridor until tomorrow. We sincerely apologize.—@AmtrakNEC
Across the East Coast, authorities told residents of coastal communities to be prepared to evacuate, if necessary, in advance of high tides. The weather service said all of Rhode Island was under flood and high wind watches through Sunday morning.
The storm's impact is quickly being felt. In Connecticut, college newspaper the Daily Campus reported the University of Connecticut's Agriculture Biotechnology Lab building was evacuated after high winds blew a smokestack on the roof.
The storm's impact has been felt as far south as central Virginia's Hanover County, where the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported EMS crews were needed to rescue four children trapped in a house under a fallen tree.
Delta, Southwest, JetBlue and American Airlines were allowing travellers to change their Friday and Saturday flights to avoid delays and cancellations at key airports across the Northeast.