Deadly nor'easter disrupts flights; Virginia declares emergency

By Susan McFarland and Danielle Haynes
Travelers walk among sections of unclaimed luggage at baggage claim on a day where flights were canceled due to bad weather at JFK Airport in New York City on Friday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 7 | Travelers walk among sections of unclaimed luggage at baggage claim on a day where flights were canceled due to bad weather at JFK Airport in New York City on Friday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 2 (UPI) -- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Friday as a hazardous winter storm killed at least five people and snarled air travel across the Northeast.

He said the order would "help Virginia mitigate any damage caused by high winds."


Damaging winds, coastal flooding and heavy, wet snow wreaked havoc on New England and the Mid-Atlantic as the nor'easter storm moved in, causing widespread power outages that could last for days.

More than 900,000 homes and businesses lost power from the Great Lakes to the mid-Atlantic to the Northeast on Friday during a storm that dumped several inches of snow and downed trees and power lines.

The storm is being blamed for at least five deaths, including a man in his 70s who died when a tree fell on him in Newport, R.I. Falling trees also killed an 11-year-old boy in Putnam Valley, N.Y., a man in Virginia, a 6-year-old boy in Chester, Va., and a 77-year-old woman in Kingsville, Md.


Disruptions from the storm were extensive. Across the nation, 2,883 flights were canceled as of Friday evening, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. Strong winds are expected remain through the weekend, with some cancellations already being reported for Saturday.

The air traffic control tower at Washington Dulles International Airport was "evacuated due to high winds," according to an airport tweet.

"FAA controllers are currently transitioning to the airport ramp tower. Normal operations expected to resume shortly."

Widespread damage also was reported in the Washington, D.C., area, where federal offices closed for the day as wind damage downed trees and power lines that fell onto homes and vehicles.

Strong winds caused a delay for President Donald Trump's travels as his flight was moved from Joint Base Andrews to to Dulles International Airport in Reston, Va. According to White House officials, the alternative has a northwest-southeast runway, which is more closely aligned with the wind.


Inland flooding from excessive rainfall and coastal flooding from storm surge will impact much of the area from New Jersey to Massachusetts, with multiple warnings in effect for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, including winter weather advisories, winter storm warnings and high wind warnings.

Coastal flood watches and warnings were issued by the National Weather Service from southern Maine to North Carolina as major coastal flooding is expected. Some flooding could be life-threatening along the Massachusetts coast.

The coastal flooding is expected to begin Friday and continue in some areas into Saturday night and Sunday with water levels rising 2 to 5 feet above normal tides along the eastern Massachusetts shore.

On New York's Long Island, the flooding could result in numerous road closings and could flood homes, businesses and parking lots.

The severe winter weather has already pounded an area stretching from Ohio to New York and Washington, D.C. and as far south as North Carolina.


Western New York on Friday was blanketed with heavy snow. Buffalo picked up more than 18 inches in 24 hours. Strong winds and the heavy, wet snow damaged trees in several counties.

Snow totals as of Friday morning were significant, with 14 inches reported in Harborcreek, Pa., 10 inches at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport and 11 inches in Chardon, Ohio, near Cleveland.

High winds battered parts of the mid-Atlantic states, Appalachians and New England. Wind gusts reached up to 67 mph at Washington Dulles International Airport and 62 mph at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Numerous other areas are reporting wind gusts over 50 mph and trees have been downed in parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and western North Carolina.

Southern California is anticipating of a 7-foot snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and up to one foot of snow is expected in mountains near Los Angeles.

In Montecito, Calif., 22,000 residents were part of a mandatory evacuation order as flash flood warnings were in effect. The San Francisco Bay area also had flooding reports after three inches of rain fell from Oregon to Northern California.


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