Hundreds of thousands were left without power after a line of powerful storms swept across the U.S. from Texas to Connecticut yesterday, snapping trees and canceling flights.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Chemung County after a tornado reportedly touched down in Elmira, where author Mark Twain is buried. Most of the damage from yesterday’s event occurred in New York and Pennsylvania where the weather front may have created a rare wind storm known as a derecho.
A derecho is defined as an event that has wind gusts of at least 58 miles (93 kilometer) per hour and leaves a swath of damage for a minimum of 240 miles, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center.
“At this point it is fair to say it is going to probably be a derecho,” Corey Mead, a meteorologist at the center in Norman, Oklahoma, said yesterday. “There is definitely going to be a continuous pattern of wind damage across New York, Pennsylvania and southern New England.”
Fewer Flight Cancelations
Almost 386,000 customers were without power, including 4,000 in New York City, as of 8:30 p.m. New York time yesterday after the storms had passed through the area, according to reports from utilities. Some customers have since had power restored. Some 166 flights around the U.S. are canceled canceled today, compared with 1,012 yesterday, said FlightAware, a tracking company based in Houston. New York’s LaGuardia Airport was the hardest hit yesterday with 180 departures scrubbed.
According to storm reports, winds of 75 mph, strong enough to match a Category 1 hurricane, were recorded in Ohio and Kentucky. A gust of 74 mph was recorded in Pennsylvania. Hail was reported from Arkansas to Pennsylvania, with the largest report so far being 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) in Montgomery, according to the storm center.
Severe storms with lightning, hail and tornadoes accounted for about $8.8 billion in insured losses in the U.S. in the first six months of 2012, more than any other type of natural disaster, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.
The mid-Atlantic was struck by a derecho last month, leaving 4.3 million people without power from New Jersey to North Carolina as it unleashed winds of as much as 91 mph. Twenty-four deaths were linked to the gale and its aftermath, according to the Associated Press.
Yesterday’s storms were caused when a cold front swept across the U.S., Mead said. The most intense turbulence was in the Northeast, he said.
In New York’s Chemung County, thousands of trees were shredded, businesses and homes were damaged and widespread power outages were reported, according to Cuomo. The state of emergency allows New York to waive rules that might slow getting help to people immediately, a statement from the governor said.
Almost 100,000 people in New York and 145,000 in Pennsylvania were without electricity yesterday, according to utilities, including Consolidated Edison Inc.
FirstEnergy Corp., based in Akron, Ohio, said about 69,500 customers in Pennsylvania and 550 customers in Ohio were still without electricity as of 6:45 a.m. Eastern time. That compares with 119,000 and 13,200, respectively, in the two states yesterday. American Electric Power Co., based in Columbus, Ohio, said 14,730 customers were still blacked out, down from 51,000 yesterday, while NYSEG, a unit of Iberdrola SA, has about 39,000 without service in New York, versus 52,000 yesterday, according to the utility’s website.
In West Virginia, 10,660 customers were without power as of 6:45 a.m., according to Appalachian Power’s website. The company is owned by American Electric Power. Almost all of Duke Energy Corp.’s customers in Indiana now have power restored, compared with 603 without electricity yesterday.
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