A major nor’easter slammed the East Coast on Friday from Georgia to Maine, bringing heavy snow, damaging winds and severe flooding along the coasts, but forecasters said rain and snow was expected to slowly come to an end early Saturday.
At least five people were killed Friday by falling trees or branches, The Associated Press and CNN reported. According to The Associated Press, the five killed included: A man and a 6-year-old boy in different parts of Virginia; an 11-year-old boy from the state of New York; a man in Newport, R.I.; a 77-year-old woman who was struck by a branch outside her home near Baltimore.
The National Weather Service in Boston had warned of a three-foot surge on top of high tide in Boston and Nantucket. High water was already pouring into Boston’s Long Wharf, while firefighters were summoned to rescue drivers trapped in vehicles in some parts of the city.
In Watertown, Mass., the strong windows knocked down eight telephone poles across a main street, police said.
The eastern seaboard braced for wind gusts exceeding 50 mph, with possible hurricane-force gusts of 80 to 90 mph on Cape Cod. At least five people were killed Friday by falling trees or branches, The Associated Press and CNN reported.
Heavy snow fell from Ohio to upstate New York and on eastward. Among the snow accumulation by midday Friday: 24 inches in Wyoming, N.Y., east of Buffalo, 22 inches in Forestville, N.Y., 14 inches in Harborcreek, Pa., 12.1 inches at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, and 10.2 inches just west of Albany, N.Y., according to The Weather Channel.
High wind warnings were in effect along almost the entire Interstate 95 urban corridor from Boston to Washington D.C., with the threat of wind gusts up to 60 mph.
By mid-morning, more than 700,000 customers were without power in the Mid-Atlantic, the Great Lakes, the Southeast and New England.
Around Washington, D.C., downed power lines cut electricity to 400,000 people in Virginia, Maryland and the District, according to WTOP. The federal government and several area school districts shut down for the day as gusts up to 50 mph knocked down trees in the region.
In Ocean City, Del., high winds knocked a gaping hole in a seaside hotel, exposing the stairwell.
The storms wreaked havoc with travelers in the air and on the ground:
• At one point, all Amtrak service was temporarily suspended along the Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston.
“Major flooding, high winds, and many downed trees have unfortunately caused multiple issues and our crews are diligently working to restore service,” Amtrak said in the early afternoon.
• At the height of the strong winds, New York’s LaGuardia airport stopped all arrivals and departures and JFK International Airport experienced periodic interruptions of service.
• Nationwide, 2,714 flights had been canceled and another 1,625 delayed as of 2:20 p.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.
Most of those cancellations were spread across airports in the Northeast, where wind gusts up to 70 mph were possible. The winds were expected to have an unusually long duration, lasting into Saturday.
Some pre-emptive cancellations were already being reported for Saturday, with nearly 160 flights already grounded at airports across the Northeast and New England.
• For his trip to North Carolina to attend the funeral of Billy Graham, President Trump traveled out of Dulles International Airport, rather than Andrews Air Force Base because of the storm and high winds in the area.
• In New Jersey, a downed tree that hit overhead wires suspended some New Jersey Transit service. NJT says the tree toppled in the area of Morris Plains on Friday, causing the suspension of service on the Morris and Essex Line in both directions between Dover and Convent Station.
A nor’easter is a strong area of low pressure along the East Coast that draws wind from the northeast off the Atlantic. It is often associated with strong winter storms moving along the coast. This one is expected to last through early Saturday.
Based on a 24-hour pressure change of 114 millibars to 987 millibars, the powerful storm slamming the Northeast officially underwent bombogenesis, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
“This ‘bomb cyclone’ wind field is larger than most Category 1 hurricanes, with winds to match,” Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weather.us said.
The storm could take a chunk out of Jersey shore beaches still being repaired following damage from earlier storms.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker activated 200 National Guard members. In Duxbury, south of Boston, officials urged people to evacuate as soon as possible, and the fire department was preparing to use a high water rescue vehicle for the first time to help any residents who wind up stuck in homes during high floodwaters.
Michelle Shaffer, 45, of the coastal Massachusetts town of Hull, lost her appliances under 5 feet of water during the last big storm.
“I have a new washer, and my boyfriend just built a wooden platform for it. We got a couple of sump pumps,” said Shaffer, who evacuated to higher ground Thursday night. “This storm is going to be worse because it’s going over three high tides,” she said.
The Coast Guard advised boaters to exercise “vigilance and extreme caution.” The National Weather Service warned the storm would morph into heavier, wet snow later Friday.