High winds, flooding lash US Northeast, one person killed


International desk, Mar 03: A storm with winds topping 80 miles per hour (129 km per hour) lashed the U.S. East Coast from Maine to Virginia on Friday 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.

More snow will fall at higher elevations and in the northwestern part of the state.

A major nor’easter slammed the East Coast on Friday from Georgia to ME, bringing heavy snow, damaging winds and severe flooding along the coasts, including the streets of Boston. There were more than 150,000 customers without power in the D.C. area as of 4 a.m. Friday.

“Since 10 a.m., Thursday until now, this storm has rapidly dropped in pressure, officially passing the definition of 24 millibars in 24 hours”, CNN meteorologist Judson Jones said at 11 a.m. ET Friday. There is also a hurricane-force wind warning for offshore waters in southeastern New England.

Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s office in Taunton, Mass., said the storm was essentially an area of low pressure that was moving northeast – strengthening and spiraling before it comes to a halt for about two days.

Snow was falling on upstate NY, and meteorologists forecast as much as 5 inches of snow from Rhode Island up to Boston.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker activated 200 National Guard members.

On Friday morning, a powerful nor’easter began barreling through the United States East Coast.

Source: Agencies