A rare October snowfall draped the U.S. mid-Atlantic states and New England yesterday, with as much as 12.5 inches falling in some locations outside the metropolitan areas. As many as 2.3 million people were left without power and flights were delayed.
New York City was set to receive as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow, said Paul Walker, a meteorologist for AccuWeather.com Inc. The city broke an October 1925 record of 0.8 inch yesterday, with 1.3 inches dropping in Central Park. Elsewhere, four inches was forecast for Philadelphia.
The pre-Halloween nor’easter is unusual for both its timing and the amount of snow to fall, said Walker. More than 2.3 million customers from Maryland to New England lost power and officials said it could be days before many see electricity restored, the Associated Press reported.
“This isn’t typical for this time of year,” said Alan Reppert, a meteorologist for AccuWeather.com. “It’s likely that records will be set.”
In Terra Alta, in northeastern West Virginia, 10 inches of snow fell, while Frostburg, Maryland, located in the panhandle, had 9.5 inches, said AccuWeather meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.
Eleven inches of snow was reported in Plainfield, Massachusetts, while Bristol, Connecticut, had 7 inches. Six and a half inches fell in Burlington, Connecticut, according to the National Weather Service. Ten inches of snow was reported in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and 12.5 inches in West Milford, New Jersey.
PPL Corp. had more than 214,000 customers without power in central and eastern Pennsylvania, according to the utility’s website. FirstEnergy Corp.’s Allegheny Power had more than 59,000 residents and businesses without service in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, according to the company’s website.
FirstEnergy’s Jersey Central Power & Light had 185,075 people without power as of about 5 p.m. yesterday. The outage website was unavailable later because of maintenance. Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. of New Jersey had about 200,000 without service as of 4:30 p.m. yesterday, the company said in a statement. Some 700,000 lost power in Connecticut, the AP said.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency and urged people to stay off roads until conditions improved.
Rail service between Philadelphia and Pennsylvania’s capital of Harrisburg was suspended by Amtrak because of the weather, the railroad said in an e-mail alert.
FlightAware.com said flights arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport were delayed as long as six hours yesterday because of snow and ice, while New York’s JFK airport had delays of about five hours. Philadelphia International Airport was two-and-a-half hours behind schedule.
About 950 flights had been canceled at the three airports, Flightaware.com said.
AccuWeather’s Pydynowski said yesterday that the storm would move quickly through the region, though its effects would be felt for as long as 12 hours, mostly because of the winds.
Many trees in the region still have leaves, which may increase the chance of power outages, said Walker.
“Limbs breaking off and branches coming down on power lines is certainly a big concern. Unfortunately, you can’t predict where that’s going to happen.”
A high-wind warning was posted for the coastlines of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Winds were expected to be a constant 20 to 30 mph with gusts of 55 mph.
“Strong winds combined with moist soils will bring down trees and power lines causing power outages,” according to the weather service warning. “Damage to structures is also possible.”
Nor’easters get their names from the northeasterly winds that blow on shore as the system passes the coastline, bringing rain, battering waves and sometimes snow.
This storm came on the 20th anniversary of a better-known nor’easter.
“The Perfect Storm,” a book by Sebastian Junger, chronicled the nor’easter that eventually formed Hurricane Grace in late October 1991. The book told the story of the Andrea Gail, a fishing boat lost at sea during the storm. It was made into a film of the same name in 2000 and starred George Clooney.