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Deadly storm batters the Northeast, knocking out power and grounding flights

Pedestrians are buffeted by wind as they cross a street Monday in Boston.
Steven Senne
/
AP
Pedestrians are buffeted by wind as they cross a street Monday in Boston.

Updated December 18, 2023 at 11:35 PM ET

The powerful storm system that drenched the Eastern Seaboard with several inches of rain continued to slam the Northeast on Monday night with heavy rain, flooding, road washouts and high winds, knocking out power and killing at least five people.

As the storm moves into Canada, the National Weather Service issued warnings of dangerous rainfall through Tuesday morning for most of New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and large swaths of Maine, where more nearly half of the state's tracked power customers remain in the dark. The Mid-Atlantic Coast and southern New England Coast should expect showers and thunderstorms, the agency cautioned.

Surging floods and battering winds turn deadly

High winds in Hingham, Massachusetts, which lies about 20 miles south of Boston along the coast, caused a tree to fall on a trailer where 89-year-old Robert Horky was inside, NPR member station WBUR reported. Horky, suffered severe head trauma and was later pronounced dead.

The NWS reported wind gusts up to 68 miles per hour around the Boston area. And, according to WBUR, the ground in Massachusetts is still wet from another storm one week ago, which means trees may fall more easily and damage power lines

The AP reported that police in Windham, Maine, said a man who was removing debris from his roof was killed by part of a falling tree. The outlet also said officials in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, pronounced a man dead after he was found in a submerged vehicle Monday morning. Along the coast in South Carolina, where a flash flood emergency was issued Sunday, one person died when their vehicle flooded in Mount Pleasant.

A driver in Catskill, New York, was killed when their vehicle was swept into the Catskill Creek, according to the Times Union.

Officials urge public to stay indoors as crews work to restore power

Power outages were widespread across the Northeast on Monday morning, with issues reported from Virginia to Maine, according to poweroutage.us.

"Heed those warnings if you have to go out, it's still pretty bad, and just hunker down," Angela Molino, Androscoggin County Emergency Management Agency director, urged residents in Maine, following hours of strong winds and rain.

More than 400,000 people across the state had no access to power and officials warn it may take days to fully restore.

Central Maine Power spokesperson Jonathan Breed explained that line workers can't go up in bucket trucks when winds are greater than 35 mph.

"So during this time that we have to wait, we prioritize making downed lines safe. That's No. 1. And also working with local emergency management agencies to help clear back roads and to do other first response support activities," Breed said.

More than half a million customers had lost power in Rhode Island after the storm first struck on Sunday, and Rhode Island Energy officials said it could take through Tuesday to restore power. As of Monday night, nearly 14,000 accounts were still out, according to poweroutage.us.

Nearly 190,000 customers in Massachusetts had no electricity Monday night, while more than 37,000 customers were in the dark in Connecticut.

States grapple with the storm's effects

The NWS said the Philadelphia metro area saw as much as five inches of rain early Monday, with minor coastal flooding occurring along the Jersey Shore and back bays

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said certain areas of the state had "several inches of flooding" and warned commuters not to drive through standing water or touch downed wires.

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Earlier, federal weather officials were warning that heavy rains could cause localized flash flooding, particularly in urban areas and roads.

The storm system was also wreaking havoc on the roads and at airports across the region, where hundreds of flights were being delayed or canceled due to the weather.

Some 89 flights were canceled and 125 were delayed at Boston Logan International Airport, according to flightaware.com, while 82 flights were canceled and 55 were delayed at LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

A ground stop due to wind was also in effect at Boston Logan International Airport Monday morning through early afternoon.

As the storm moves across the Northeast and into Canada, the Pacific Northwest should also brace for moderate to heavy rain through the middle of the week, the NWS reports.

The agency projects those conditions will move south to parts of northern and central California by Tuesday and Southern California by Wednesday. Both regions could experience excessive rainfall and flash flooding.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez
Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.
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