High winds, flooding lash U.S. Northeast, one person killed

BOSTON,  (Reuters) – A storm with winds topping 80 miles per hour (129 km per hour) lashed the U.S. East Coast from Maine to Virginia yesterday as it flooded streets in Boston, grounded flights, halted trains and claimed at least one life.

Almost 1.7 million homes and businesses were without power in the Northeast and Midwest, and government offices in Washington closed as winds gusted to more than 60 mph (96 kph) in the U.S. capital.

A flood surge at extreme high tide sent seawater into Boston’s coastal streets, the second time this year that the area had flooded. Wind gusts approaching 70 mph (113 kph) helped force in the water while downing trees and power lines.

The high water receded in the afternoon, but the National Weather Service said Boston could face renewed flooding with another high tide around midnight on Friday.

Officials said that high tide could come close to reaching a record level due to the combination of high winds, waves and storm surge.

“That one still looks like it’s going to be on target for at least moderate coastal flooding, which means we’re going to see some problems in Boston,” said Jim Hayes, a meteorologist with the agency’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

Police in Quincy, Massachusetts, were using heavy front-end loaders to rescue people from flooded homes. State emergency officials urged residents of coastal areas that regularly flood during storms to seek higher ground.

Snow and rain are forecast to taper off through Friday night and into Saturday as skies clear, Hayes said, adding that winds are also expected to drop somewhat overnight and into Saturday as the offshore storm system recedes.

The severe weather prompted Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to declare a state of emergency, streamlining state aid to communities harmed by high winds.

At least one person was killed. A 77-year-old woman was struck by a falling tree branch outside her home near Kingsville, Maryland, about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Baltimore, a Baltimore County Fire Department spokesman said.

Emergency workers in Washington also pulled a man with life-threatening injuries from a car that was struck by a falling tree, the fire department there said.

Private forecasting service AccuWeather said the storm dumped as much as 18 inches (46 cm) of snow on parts of upstate New York and northeastern Pennsylvania.

It also snarled transportation from the Middle Atlantic into New England, with more than a quarter of flights into and out of New York’s three major airports and Boston’s airport canceled, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.

One flight landing at Washington’s Dulles International Airport came in through turbulence so rough that most passengers became sick and the pilots were on the verge of becoming ill, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Passenger railroad Amtrak halted service between Boston and Washington through Friday as well as south of the capital because of downed trees blocking tracks. Some regional commuter trains in Maryland and Virginia were also canceled.

Hayes said top wind speeds had been clocked at 83 mph (134 kph) in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and reached 78 mph (125 kph) at Etlan, Virginia.

Nearly 1.7 million homes and businesses were without power across the region, with the largest number of outages spread across Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and New York state.


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