NATIONAL NEWS

Storms bear down on New England and East Coast as severe weather persists across the US

Apr 3, 2024, 8:00 AM | Updated: 7:54 pm

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — A major spring storm was expected to drop more than a foot of snow in parts of New England on Wednesday night, while heavy rains soaked the East Coast and cleanup work continued in several states wracked by tornadoes and other severe weather blamed for at least three deaths.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for several states in New England, where 7 to 18 inches (18 to 46 centimeters) of snow were expected with some local amounts topping 24 inches (61 centimeters) at higher elevations. Parts of New Hampshire and Maine were expected to see the highest amounts.

A mix of rain and snow was falling throughout the region by early evening and was expected through Thursday night in many areas.

“It is now a rain/snow mix at the office, and we have received our first trace of snow for the storm ahead,” the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said Wednesday night via X, formerly known as Twitter. “It won’t be long before our ground turns white!”

Maine officials warned of difficult travel conditions, blackouts and minor coastal flooding.

“Travel is discouraged during this storm due to unfavorable driving conditions,” Pete Rogers, director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency, said in a statement. “Folks need to be prepared at home for the possibility of an extended power outage with emergency supplies, alternate power sources, and should charge their mobile devices in advance.”

In New Hampshire, the U.S. Forest Service issued an avalanche watch through Friday afternoon for parts of the White Mountains including Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast at 6,288 feet (1,917 meters). The service warned backcountry hikers and skiers that 30 inches (76 centimeters) of snow or more could fall at higher elevations and create dangerous avalanche conditions.

School districts and government offices throughout both states announced Thursday closures because of the storm.

There were coastal flood warnings and watches in areas from Maine to Long Island, N.Y., while wind gusts of up to 60 mph (about 97 kph) were expected in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and coastal Connecticut. Heavy rains and severe thunderstorms were also expected to impact the Mid-Atlantic states and Florida.

Forecasters said heavy, wet snow would persist across Wisconsin and Upper Michigan into Thursday, with 6 to 10 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) overall possible in far-northern Wisconsin, 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) in Madison but just a trace in Milwaukee. Parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula had already seen several inches, with overall accumulations of 2 feet (0.6 meters) or more expected.

The severe weather comes a day after thousands of homes and businesses were left without power as storms roared through several states.

Storms in northeastern Oklahoma on Tuesday unleashed three suspected tornadoes and dumped heavy rain that was blamed for the death of a 46-year-old homeless woman in Tulsa who was sheltering inside a drainage pipe.

In Kentucky, storms that spawned at least five tornadoes resulted in one death from a vehicle crash and left widespread damage in several counties, Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday. No other major injuries were reported, he said.

Tornadoes touched down in Nelson, Anderson and Jessamine counties and the city of Prospect on Tuesday, according to the weather service.

Beshear said surveyors were also looking at damage in four other counties to determine whether more tornadoes hit there, and over a dozen additional counties reported storm damage.

“We will get through this, and we’ll get through it together,” the governor said. “So many are hurting right now, and we want you to know we will be there for you.”

In Rockdale County, Georgia, crews planned to survey damage to determine whether a tornado hit overnight, according to the weather service.

Carolyn Gillman rode out the storm in the bathroom in her house east of Atlanta. She heard a “big whoosh” and a “big crash,” and rain coming into the home.

“My living room has been impaled by a tree,” Gillman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

An EF-1 tornado also touched down in the northeast Tennessee town of Sunbright on Tuesday. Its path was about 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers), and it was 150 yards (137 meters) wide, the weather service said.

The twister damaged numerous residential and commercial structures, in addition to barns and trees, in the city of about 500 people. No injuries or deaths were reported.

Sunbright Mayor Karen Melton told the Knoxville News Sentinel that she drove downtown once the tornado had passed and found a family there.

“We had a young mother and father holding their babies, an infant and a 4-year-old, (when) the tornado ripped the roof of their apartment. … It was just horrific and sad,” Melton said. “But they were safe, she had some scratches, but the babies were safe.”

In West Virginia, more than 103,000 homes and businesses remained without power Wednesday, mostly in the southern part of the state, according to poweroutage.us. Appalachian Power said some customers may not get service back until Thursday night.

Schools were closed in eight of West Virginia’s 55 counties, and a state of emergency declared remained in place for several counties. Moderate flooding was forecast on the Ohio River, which was expected to crest nearly 6 feet (1.8 meters) above flood stage Thursday at Wheeling.

In Crisp County, Georgia, south of Atlanta, roads were closed as emergency workers assessed damage to multiple homes and buildings after a storm early Wednesday, authorities said.

Photos shared by the sheriff’s office showed large trees atop one home and power lines draped across yards and roads. Residents were advised to limit travel due to the damage and possible gas leaks.

“We’ve been in there all morning surveying the damage, trying to make sure everybody in the homes are OK,” county Sheriff Billy Hancock said via Facebook.

Between 2 and 3.5 inches (5.1 and 8.9 centimeters) of rain in western Pennsylvania since late Monday night led to flooding, and several homeless encampments along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Pittsburgh were abandoned.

On the other side of the state, a woman in her 80s was killed in the Philadelphia suburb of Collegeville on Wednesday when a tree fell on her car, Montgomery County Department of Public Safety official Todd Stieritz told WCAU-TV.

Several counties in northeastern Ohio also saw minor to moderate flooding after three days of nearly continuous rain. Flood watches and warnings remained in effect, though conditions were expected to improve by Wednesday night.

___

Associated Press writers Rebecca Reynolds in Louisville, Kentucky, Dave Collins in Hartford, Conn., John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia, Jeff Martin in Atlanta, Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee, and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed to this report.

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