Hundreds of thousands of electricity customers in parts of Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania waited for power to be turned back on as states fought to clean up Thursday from the second major storm this week.
Up to a foot of snow fell in parts of the Northeast on Wednesday, still reeling from the first storm at the beginning of the week. Schools have been closed in many areas, as have businesses and government offices. The cold coated many power lines with heavy ice that brought them down.
As its peak, nearly a million people were without power in storm-socked states. Pennsylvania had the most outages, with about 849,000 customers hit. As many as 3,500 utility workers worked feverishly to repair the damage, according to PECO, the utility. Despite successes, work remained to be done.
"With damage still occurring, it is too early to determine when service will be restored to all customers," the utility warned in a posting on its website. "Based on the conditions and damages so far, we believe we will be able to restore service to most customers in the next few days. However, some customers – in more heavily damaged areas – could be without service into the weekend."
"People are going to have to have some patience at this point," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett told reporters on Wednesday. The governor issued a disaster emergency proclamation.
As of Thursday morning, PECO reported more than 429,000 customers without power. FirstEnergy was reporting more than 50,000 customers without power, mostly in central Pennsylvania, while PPL was reporting almost 20,000 in its northeastern Pennsylvania service area.
In Maryland, power companies said full power could be restored by Friday. Some 76,000 customers were in the dark in Maryland and more than 5,000 New Jersey customers also lacked electricity.
As the Northeast struggled to regain its footing, another storm was forming and it could hit over the weekend and into the first part of next week.
With the snow has come biting cold temperatures, and much of the Midwest was trying to cope with that problem on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
"Very cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills will settle into the central U.S. for the next few days," the weather service warned.
But there was a touch of good news in the West, hit by a continuing drought. "An active weather pattern will bring much needed rain and snow to parts of the western U.S.," the service said.