Ferocious US storm leaves five dead

Commuters at Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal on Tuesday trying to get a train after a severe thunderstorm downed trees, causing power outages resulting in several lines being suspended.
Commuters at Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal on Tuesday trying to get a train after a severe thunderstorm downed trees, causing power outages resulting in several lines being suspended.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Hundreds of thousands in the North-east remain without power, schools cancel classes

NEW YORK • A violent spring storm that killed at least five people in the North-eastern United States downed trees and power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power yesterday.

By daybreak, more than 370,000 residents were without power in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, down from more than 600,000 on Tuesday night. Schools cancelled classes or delayed opening yesterday

The line of strong thunderstorms with wind gusts of 80 to 129kmh sped east across the region on Tuesday evening, causing local flooding, scattering debris and dropping hail as large as tennis balls.

Falling trees killed an 11-year-old girl and a woman in incidents in Newburgh, New York, police said.

Falling trees also killed two people in Connecticut in separate incidents, as well as a person in Pennsylvania, local media reported.

Local news showed footage of trees resting on top of crushed cars and houses, and vehicles submerged in water.

There were more than 100 reports of hail in states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

"Very few areas were left unscathed," Mr Bill Goodman, NWS meteorologist, said on Tuesday. He added that there were reports of wind ripping off the top of a water tower in Upper Manhattan and the roof off a hotel in Newburgh.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in several counties in southeast New York and deployed members of the New York National Guard to assist with the recovery.

Officials in Brookfield, Connecticut, declared a town disaster and told residents to stay inside until they could assess the damage.

"Please be aware that there are hundreds of downed trees, utility poles and electrical lines. AVOID all down trees and utility poles as they may still involve LIVE power lines," the Brookfield Police Department said on Facebook.

Most air traffic was back to normal yesterday morning after more than 500 flights were cancelled at the three major airports serving the New York area on Tuesday, and more than 100 at Boston's Logan International, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.

At Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal early on Tuesday evening, transit commuters stood cheek by jowl, with many people taking selfies to document the surreal scene.

Mr Forrest West, 27, was seated at the edge of the balcony, trying to stay out of the crowd on the station floor before him.

"I can't deal," Mr West said, as he waited for a train to his home in Stamford, Connecticut. "These people just look like thousands of ants."

REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2018, with the headline 'Ferocious US storm leaves five dead'. Print Edition | Subscribe