Strong wind, rain in Northeast knock out power for 400,000, diverts flights from NY to Mass.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wind, rain knock out power to 400,000 in Northeast

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Strong winds and heavy rain pounded parts of the Northeast on Saturday, knocking out power to nearly 400,000 customers, diverting international flights and toppling a boom crane at an Atlantic City casino construction site, injuring one police officer.

The winds downed trees and power lines throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. The New York City area and southern New Jersey were among the hardest hit, with wind gusts of up to 67 mph recorded and power cut to a combined 265,000 customers.

Logan International Airport in Boston received nine overseas flights bound for New York because they no longer had the fuel to wait for clearance to land at John F. Kennedy International Airport, said Massport spokesman Matthew Brelis. Among the planes diverted because of heavy rain and high winds was the double-decker Airbus A-380, the biggest commercial passenger jet in the world.

In New York, ferry service to Staten Island was suspended Saturday night because of heavy winds.

Customers from Long Island to the northern suburbs of New York City were in the dark as utility company crews worked to restore power. Consolidated Edison reported more than 80,000 without power in New York City and parts of Westchester County by about 7:30 p.m., while Long Island Power Authority had about 85,000 customers without electricity.

In New Jersey, Public Service Electric & Gas reported more than 70,000 customers without power, and Atlantic City Electric said more than 35,000 customers were in the dark.

About 85,000 customers in the Philadelphia area were without power Saturday, said Pennsylvania Electric Co. spokesman Ben Armstrong.

In Atlantic City, the horizontal arm of a boom crane collapsed at the Revel Casino construction site. Debris went flying and crashed through the driver’s side window of a police cruiser, injuring Atlantic City police Officer Brian Hurley.

Hurley’s injuries were not considered life-threatening, Capt. Bill McKnight said.

Two condominium complexes near the construction site were evacuated and several area roads were briefly closed. The winds also caused at least two homes to collapse and damaged other homes and buildings.

No other injuries were reported.

Rail service was suspended on major lines throughout New Jersey on Saturday night because of flooding, said NJ Transit spokeswoman Penny Bassett Hackett.

Pittsburgh had braced for what meteorologists were calling the worst potential for flooding since remnants of Hurricane Ivan swept through the city in September 2004. Officials worried that a forecast of warm weather and several days of rain would cause deep snow in the mountains to melt, prompting rivers to swell.

But officials downgraded some of their river crest projections Saturday in western Pennsylvania as rainfall appeared to be less than was projected.

Connecticut Light & Power said 31,000 customers were without power in an area including Greenwich, Stamford and Norwalk.

Flood warnings were issued for several rivers in northern Jersey, including the Ramapo River at Mahwah and Saddle River at Lodi, where minor to moderate flooding was expected Saturday night and Sunday. Coastal flood and high wind warnings were in effect for the Jersey Shore.

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