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Snowstorm knocks out power for thousands across north-east US

Category: By News Updater
A huge winter storm has lashed America's north-east, bringing major snow fall, icy conditions and high winds to a vast swathe of the most populous region of the United States.

The powerful weather system created chaos on the region's roads with several states banning motorists from travel and saw more than 650,000 people left without power.

Thousands of flights were also cancelled, and governors of six states – New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine – declared emergencies.

The storm packed hurricane force winds at times as it pummelled its way through the area, striking most fiercely in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. However, it largely spared New York from any major impact, as the worst of the system passed by just to the north of the city.

The storm is believed to have caused at least four deaths so far, with three people being killed in Canada and one in upstate New York. In southern Ontario, an 80-year-old woman collapsed while shovelling snow from her driveway, and two men died in car crashes. In New York, a 74-year-old pedestrian died after he was struck by a car in Poughkeepsie when the driver lost control in the snowy conditions.

The heaviest snow appeared to strike Connecticut where 28in (71cm) had fallen on central parts of the state by early Saturday morning. At its height snow was falling there at a rate of up to five inches an hour. Elsewhere areas of south-eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire notched 2ft (60cm) or more of snow – with more still falling on Saturday.

High winds built up huge drifts, and major cities like Boston, Hartford and Providence ground to a halt. Falling tree branches and gusts brought down power lines and in Massachusetts alone some 400,000 people were without power. The snow also knocked out electricity to the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth which shut down Friday night. Authorities say there is no threat to public safety and backup generators immediately kicked in.

Airlines cancelled more than 5,300 flights through Saturday, and Boston's Logan Airport closed completely. As the storm passed by Saturday morning New York's three main airports had re-opened, though with a schedule devastated by changes.

Blizzard conditions also brought wreckage to the roads. There was a 19-car pileup in Cumberland, Maine, that caused minor injuries to some of the passengers. Meanwhile on the Long Island Expressway in New York hundreds of cars got stuck on Friday evening, forcing police to work to free them.

But in New York City, parts of which got 11in (28cm) of snow, the storm had little major impact. Underground public transport was working smoothly, and many citizens heeded mayor Michael Bloomberg's warnings to stay indoors. By Saturday morning much Manhattan was back to normal, while other boroughs were still digging out.

After striking the region the storm was headed mostly out to sea, rather than barrelling inland. That course of direction was seen as sparing much of the region further damage unlike in previous recent big weather systems – such as superstorm Sandy – which had marched inland.


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Sandy-hit areas struggle to resume daily life

By News Updater
Forecasters say Sandy is no longer a hurricane but is still a dangerous system taking dead aim at New Jersey and Delaware.

The National Hurricane Center said Monday evening that Sandy is a post-tropical storm and losing strength but still has sustained winds at 85 mph. The eye has almost made landfall.

The center says storm surge has reached heights of 12.4 feet at Kings Point, N.Y

Gaining speed and power through the day, the storm knocked out electricity to more than 1.5 million people and figured to upend life for tens of millions more. It clobbered the boarded-up big cities of the Northeast corridor, from Washington and Baltimore to Philadelphia, New York and Boston, with stinging rain and gusts of more than 85 mph.

Hurricane Sandy: Early damage reports

Flooding will be a huge threat, with many areas potentially seeing rainfall amounts between 5 and 8 inches over a 48-hour period.

The full moon will make storm surges worse, as high tides along the Eastern Seaboard will rise about 20 percent higher than normal.

Correspondent Chip Reid reports from Ocean City, Md., that sea levels could rise 8 feet above normal - enough to flood much of the city.

In addition to rains and flooding, about 2 to 3 feet of snow is forecast for mountainous parts of West Virginia.

The tempest could endanger up to 50 million people for days. "This is the worst-case scenario," said Louis Uccellini, environmental prediction chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

President Barack Obama delivered a sober warning to millions in the path of the storm on Monday, appealing to those who have not evacuated to do so.

"Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Don't delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given, because this is a powerful storm."

From Washington to Boston, big cities and small towns were buttoned up against the onslaught of Sandy, with forecasters warning that the New York area could get the worst of it -- an 11-foot wall of water.

"There's a lot of people that are going to be under the impacts of this," Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate said on "CBS This Morning" Monday.

"You know, we've got blizzard warnings as far west as West Virginia, Appalachian Mountains, but I think the biggest concern right now are the people in the evacuation areas. They're going to face the most immediate threats with the storm surge."

"The biggest challenge is going to be not knowing exactly where the heaviest-hit areas are going to be," said Fugate, "and the fact the storm's going to take several days to move through the area with heavy rain and wind, so that's going to slow down recovery activities like utility crews getting out and putting power back up."

Off North Carolina, a replica of the 18th-century sailing ship HMS Bounty that was built for the 1962 Marlon Brando movie "Mutiny on the Bounty" went down in the storm, and 14 crew members were rescued by helicopter from rubber lifeboats bobbing in 18-foot seas. The Coast Guard said it found one of the missing crew members but she is unresponsive. The Coast Guard is still searching for the captain.

Hurricane Sandy slams Northeast

Forecasters said the hurricane could blow ashore Monday night along the New Jersey coast, then cut across into Pennsylvania and travel up through New York State on Wednesday. As the storm closed in, a crane dangled precariously in the wind off a 65-story luxury building in New York City, and the streets were cleared as a precaution.

Forecasters said the combination of Sandy with the storm from the west and the cold air from the Arctic could bring close to a foot of rain in places, a potentially lethal storm surge of 4 to 11 feet across much of the region, and punishing winds that could cause widespread power outages that last for days. The storm could also dump up to 2 feet of snow in Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Mid-Atlantic States Start to Feel Effects of Storm

Category: By News Updates

With Hurricane Sandy still churning several hundred miles off the Eastern Seaboard, its impact was already being felt in mid-Atlantic states late Sunday night.
There were reports of roadways flooding, and Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware ordered that no one would be allowed on Delaware roads after 5 a.m. on Monday.
Along the Maryland, Virginia and Delaware coasts, winds began to pick up intensity, and bands of rain whipped coastal towns.
Near the Norfolk Naval Station, there were reports of sustained winds of 45 miles per hour and gusts topping 53 miles per hour.
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center, issued at 11 p.m., said that the storm was still 470 miles from New York City and moving northward at 14 miles per hour.
It was not losing steam as it plowed forward. Hurricane force winds over 75 miles per hour were measured by monitors on ocean buoys 170 miles from the storm’s center. Tropical force winds extended 520 miles from the heart of the giant weather system.
The computer tracking models showed the storm still likely to make landfall somewhere in the vicinity of southern New Jersey by late Monday evening.
In Ocean City, Md., where residents were evacuated earlier in the day, live-streaming Web cams – now disabled –  showed the storm surge already reaching up to the boardwalk.