A powerful autumn storm plunged hundreds of thousands of people into the dark, toppled trees, canceled schools and delayed trains Thursday in the Northeast.
The nor’easter brought high winds and rain to the region Wednesday and Thursday. In Massachusetts, wind gusts reached as high as 90 mph on Cape Cod, and about 200,000 residents lost power early Thursday.
The storm left nearly 200,000 people without power in Maine, too. The Maine Emergency Management Agency partially activated the state’s emergency operations center. Heavy rain combined with 60 mph wind gusts knocked down trees and power lines; residents were advised to look out for hazards on Thursday because many roads were unsafe, the agency said.
The nor’easter formed off New Jersey, strengthening as it traveled north. New York authorities said a wind-driven fire destroyed three houses in the Fire Island hamlet of Ocean Bay Park early Thursday. No injuries were reported.
Train delays, power outages and school cancellations were reported throughout the region Thursday morning. Leaves and debris that littered roads created a slippery traffic hazard for commuters.
Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Massachusetts, said the storm system met the definition of “bombogenesis.”
Storm intensity is measured by central pressure— the lower the pressure, the stronger it is. A storm is considered a “bomb” when the pressure drops rapidly.
“That’s why we ended up with strong, sustained winds and wind gusts,” Buttrick said. “It’s an indicator of an extremely powerful storm and not something to ignore.”
Buttrick forecast that the storm would continue traveling north and northeast, across the Maine coast through Thursday, reaching north of Nova Scotia by Friday morning.
In Portland, Maine, the sea level pressure was among the lowest ever recorded in October and most likely broke a record, said William Watson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Maine.
Most areas saw rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches, though some areas of southern New England got about 4 inches.
In New Hampshire, about 100 school districts reported closings and delays Thursday morning due to no electricity or downed trees and powerlines. A wind gust of 128 mph was reported on Mount Washington, the Northeast’s highest peak, according to the National Weather Service.
Sustained winds on Thursday hampered efforts to restore power and clean up downed trees.