BOSTON (AP) – A powerful Nor’easter began storming the U.S. northeast coast on Tuesday, with officials warning it could lead to intense flooding, gusts of wind at hurricane strength and widespread power outages.
New York and New Jersey issued emergency declarations in the lead up to the storm, which was set to gain strength later in the day as it swept towards New England.
Parts of New Jersey had been soaked in more than 5 inches of rain Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service, causing flooding in some areas. Strong winds have been predicted to ravage the area by Wednesday, opening the potential for widespread power outages, officials said.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy delayed the opening of the state offices until 11am due to wind and rain and called the day “a washout”. The storm caused Rutgers University to reschedule classes online for the day while several other colleges and school districts canceled classes.
In New England, officials warned of potential flooding and power outages as the storm moved north. The worst should strike late Tuesday morning through Wednesday morning, lashing the region with strong winds and heavy rain.
On Cape Cod, Massachusetts, gusts of winds of up to 75 miles per hour were predicted, with sustained winds of up to 45 miles per hour. The National Weather Service warned the waves could reach 19 feet off the state’s coast.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority closed its ferry operations on Tuesday and Wednesday. In Salem, which hosts one of the largest Halloween festivals in the country through October, the city has suspended the ferry service to Boston and encouraged visitors to take a S-Bahn train instead.
The early northeast comes before many trees have shed their leaves for winter, increasing the risk of power outages when branches weighed down by wet leaves come into contact with transmission lines. Eversource, a utility that supplies Connecticut and other New England states, warned of widespread outages through Wednesday.
The storm has already disrupted a few flights, and federal officials have warned of possible delays or cancellations across the region.
According to officials at Albany International Airport, seven flights were diverted from New York airports to Albany on Monday evening due to heavy rain. All but one of the flights had left Albany early Tuesday.
In the waters off New York’s Long Island, the US Coast Guard and local police searched Tuesday for a kayaker who had not returned from a trip on Monday evening. He walked a few hours before heavy rain set in.
The storm comes just weeks after the remnants of Hurricane Ida inundated the northeast, causing deadly flooding. At least 50 people from Virginia to Connecticut died when rainwater flooded cars on sunken waterways and subway stations and basements.
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