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Six dead as winter storm pounds US, flood alerts from New Jersey to Massachusetts

Almost 1.7 million homes and businesses were without power in the Northeast and Midwest, about 3,000 US flights were cancelled and the control tower at Dulles International Airport outside Washington was briefly evacuated due to dangerous high winds.

world Updated: Mar 03, 2018 10:03 IST
US storm,Massachusetts,Boston
Waves crash over a house on Lighthouse Rd. as the road starts to flood during a large coastal storm on March 2, 2018 in Scituate, Massachusetts.(AFP)

At least five people were killed after a major winter storm pounded the US East Coast on Friday, with strong winds, heavy rain and snow disrupting thousands of flights and forcing the closure of federal government offices in Washington.

Coastal flooding alerts were issued from New Jersey to Massachusetts with winter weather advisories, winter storm warnings and high wind warnings in effect from the Northeast to the Mid-Atlantic, the National Weather Service said.

Winter Storm Riley dropped more than a foot (30.5 centimeters) of snow in the western and northern parts of New York state, as heavy rain lashed coastal areas. The storm is expected to taper off overnight or by early Saturday.

Police in James City County, southern Virginia, confirmed a 44-year-old man was killed when a tree fell on the truck he was traveling in -- while in Chesterfield County, south of Richmond, authorities said a six-year-old boy was killed when a fallen tree struck him as he slept in his home.

Outside Baltimore, an elderly woman, 77, was also killed when she was hit by a large tree branch in Kingsville, Baltimore County Police & Fire Department said in a statement.

Meanwhile, local media said fallen trees also killed an 11-year-old boy in Putnam Valley, New York, and a man in his 70s in Newport, Rhode Island.

Travellers wait in line to inquire about the latest on Amtrak service suspension March 2, 2018 at Union Station in Washington, DC. ( AFP )

More than 3,000 domestic and international flights were cancelled on Friday and more than 2,400 others were delayed, according to the website FlightAware.

More than half the flights scheduled to arrive and depart from New York’s LaGuardia Airport were cancelled, with sweeping disruptions at Boston Logan International and New York’s two other area airports, Newark and John F. Kennedy International.

Amtrak, the US public railway service, announced that “for safety” all services along the northeast corridor were temporarily suspended.

Trains already en route between the US capital, New York, and Boston would continue to their destinations and hold, it said.

New York, the most populous US city and home to 8.5 million people, was expected to avoid heavy snow but was forecast to receive two to three inches (six centimeters) of rain and wet snow, with gusts of up to 60 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour).

New York state governor Andrew Cuomo warned that Long Island and New York City would see winds of 40 mph, with gusts as high as 70 mph possible in eastern Long Island. Wind at that speed has the potential to uproot trees and cause power outages.

In the federal capital Washington and surrounding suburbs, public schools were closed because of the storm, which some dubbed online as “Windmaggedon”.

A family walks down a snowy street during a winter storm, Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Marple Township, Pennsylvania. ( AP )

A plane coming in to land at the Ronald Reagan airport was forced to abort its first attempt amid intense wind before touching down 10 minutes later, according to ABC news, which broadcast footage of the incident.

A pilot landing at the capital’s Dulles International Airport meanwhile reported to authorities that the descent of his United Airlines flight from Charlottesville, Virginia, was so turbulent that “pretty much everyone on the plane threw up.”

Dulles also briefly evacuated its control tower due to high winds.

In Massachusetts, authorities reported more than 100,000 power outages by mid-afternoon, warning that additional power cuts were likely and ordered some coastal communities to evacuate, warning that they expected homes to sustain significant damage.

State police announced the closure of roads and businesses in coastal areas as the National Weather Service warned that shoreline neighborhoods would stay inundated and cutoff, with water unable to drain until the storm passes.

Weather forecasters urged people to avoid driving through flood waters or heading to the coast to watch the flooding, flagging reports of stranded motorists.

California storm kills one, avalanche injures two at ski resort

A winter storm that roared through California left a snowboarder dead and sent an avalanche crashing down on five people Friday at a Sierra Nevada ski resort, but the danger of another deadly mudslide eased in a devastated coastal community.

Dozens of rescuers and rescue dogs rushed to the scene after an avalanche hit the Squaw Valley Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe near the Nevada state line. Video showed them digging out a man from the snow.

One man was hospitalized with a serious lower body injury, another person was treated for injuries and released while three other people escaped injury, the resort said in a statement.

The skiers and snowboarders were within areas open to skiing at the time and the guests had been warned of the potential danger, resort spokeswoman Liesl Hepburn said.

In this photo provided by the Heavenly Mountain Resort, fresh snow covers most of a table and chairs Friday, March 2, 2018, in South Lake Tahoe, California. ( AP )

The resort used explosives and other tools to knock down snow to prevent avalanches throughout the day but the snowfall was heavy, she said.

“We had assessed the area to be safe to open to the public and unfortunately an avalanche did occur after that assessment was made,” she said.

The avalanche occurred hours after the body of a missing snowboarder was found at the same resort.

First Published: Mar 03, 2018 08:23 IST