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Powerful East Coast storm leaves 5 fatalities, nearly 1 million power outages, U.S.

Powerful East Coast storm leaves 5 fatalities, nearly 1 million power outages, U.S.

A severe storm system struck the Eastern U.S. on January 9 and 10, 2024, resulting in coastal flooding, damaging winds, nearly a million power outages from New England to the mid-Atlantic states, and the tragic loss of at least five lives.

As of 15:20 UTC on January 10, the storm has claimed at least five lives, with nearly 400 000 customers still without power. The worst affected state is currently New York with 140 000 customers without power, followed by Pennsylvania with 95 000, New Jersey with 55 000, Michigan with 52 000 and North Carolina with 48 000.

Despite the end of rain in the Northeast, rising river levels now pose a major flooding threat, particularly along the Pawtuxet River in Rhode Island and the Pompton and Passaic rivers in New Jersey.

Wisconsin and Michigan reported fatal car crashes due to adverse weather conditions, while in Cottonwood, Alabama, an 81-year-old woman tragically died in a tornado-related incident. Severe weather also claimed lives in Claremont, North Carolina, and Jonesboro, Georgia.

Since January 8, at least 23 tornadoes have been reported across Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The Midwest experienced up to 38 cm (15 inches) of snow, while the Northeast saw winds reaching 105 km/h (65 mph).

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Florida witnessed several injuries, and over 2 000 people in Brooklyn, New York City, were evacuated from tent shelters. The storm led to significant travel disruptions, with at least 1 465 flights canceled on January 9 and 9 135 delayed.

In Connecticut, the emergency management in New London County reported a potential dam failure at Fitchville Pond along the Yantic River, triggering life-threatening flash flooding warnings in downstream areas, including Fitchville. The Delaware River in Philadelphia broke its all-time record crest, previously set during Superstorm Sandy.

Governors in New Jersey and Maryland declared states of emergency and preparedness, respectively, in anticipation of the storm. Some school districts in the affected areas even dismissed classes early.

Another cross-country weather system, which has already dumped up to 76 cm (30 inches) of snow in the Pacific Northwest, is en route to the East Coast. This system is expected to move through the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada, leaving several feet of snow, before shifting east to potentially produce another severe weather outbreak, including tornadoes, from Texas to the Carolinas.

Meanwhile, a potent Arctic front drops southward from Canada on Wednesday and this will herald the arrival of the coldest temperatures so far this season for the Northern Plains, with subzero lows becoming a reality for Montana and the Dakotas, and highs remaining below freezing as far south as Oklahoma by Friday, January 12.

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References:

1 Hundreds of thousands without power in Northeast after deadly storms wallop US – ABC – January 10, 2024

2 Nearly 1 million power outages cripple East Coast as winter storm lashes Northeast – FoxWeather – January 10, 2024

3 Short Range Forecast Discussion – NWS Weather Prediction Center College Park MD – 252 AM EST Wed Jan 10 2024

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One Comment

  1. A huge problem is speeding traffic during severe weather events because it is one factor that we can control.

    I worked the Virginia highway last night in Stafford County (I-95). On an on-ramp to 95 the water got waist-deep because of a clogged drain.

    People were travelling way too fast in the torrential rain. It had been continuous for nearly 10 hours at that point. I had already handled several accidents where speed was the primary factor. Injured people were transported to hospitals. Totalled vehicles had been towed by hard working tow truck drivers all day.

    At this scene, five vehicles wiped out on the ramp, one while I was arriving and calling in the incident. Nobody has yet been injured.

    Despite four cars with yellow hazard lights blinking on both the left and right shoulders of the well-lit on-ramp, another driver drove way too fast right between the crashed cars and hydroplaned directly into a guard rail.

    This wasn’t some dark outskirt area. This was a popular high-volume exit with full highway lighting which made it really easy to see the brown water invading the two lanes. This was new blacktop as the highway project in the area was almost at it’s end. So the murky brown water contrasted well with the wet shiny blacktop.

    Can you blame it on the water? No. Any driver could see the water and would know that is raining heavily. This would logically indicate to a reasonable person that the posted speed limit is way too fast for the conditions.

    A reasonable person would also slow down if they saw a ton of blinking hazard lights and a stopped patroller vehicle with emergency lights activated.

    I patrol in an F250 and anything over 50 felt really unstable yesterday. Yet I was being passed like nothing was wrong. For my 12 hour shift I found maybe three cars traveling at a reasonable speed in the heavy rain.

    For the whole Northern Virginia region, we had no accidents involving our patrol vehicles last night. But civilians were crashing left and right all day.

    The drivers around here are utterly foolish, often exceeding the speed limit even when the weather is terrible. Speeding is just normal out here because state police cannot pull over everyone. So speed limits are just disregarded.

    But the worst issue I saw last night was the way drivers completely ignored the complex work zone set up to clear the drain and reopen the hazardous lanes. There were multiple state police vehicles on scene, dozens of cones deployed, arrow board trucks warning drivers about the lane closures and high water. Tow trucks were loading the bashed vehicles. Strobe lights in yellow, blue and red made the scene look like a disco. Dozens of people were walking around in high reflective outer wear, some with strobes on their helmets, and police with strobing flashlights were trying to slow down passing traffic. And people STILL flew through the scene at high speeds. Lucky for the moronic drivers, the deepest water was quickly blocked off by highway trucks so the speeding traffic had fairly good traction through the scene. The funneling of traffic from two to one lane slowed down traffic while it was heavy, but as the night wore on, traffic became so light that people didn’t slow down even slightly to maneuver through the work zone.

    If you see flashing lights of any color, slow down. It’s not rubber necking. It is being courteous to the people working outside in the dangerous conditions. It is avoiding becoming another problem they have to deal with.

    Stop speeding. It isn’t just illegal, it’s immoral and dumb.

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