Strong Winter Storms Grip North, Northeast U.S.

Posted on December 20, 2007 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

DETROIT, Mich. — Snow, sleet, and freezing rain have cut visibility and iced over highways from the U.S. Great Lakes to the Northeast and eastern Canada, dumping up to 18 inches of snow in some American states, stranding air and road travelers and causing an airliner to skid off a runway.

School districts across the region — including Michigan's largest, in Detroit — canceled classes earlier this week. Slippery roads caused by the big storm were blamed for four weekend deaths in Indiana, two in Michigan and one each in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and the Canadian Maritime province of Nova Scotia.

The northern New York state community of Peru had 18 inches of snow, and high wind Monday morning whipped up fallen snow across the state, the National Weather Service said. In Michigan, Ann Arbor measured 10.5 inches and parts of Indiana had 14 inches.

"It's winter," said Ann Arbor resident Linda Thelen, 53, as she and her husband dug out their home. "I expect a couple of these each year."

In Rhode Island, a U.S. Airways Express Flight from Philadelphia carrying 31 passengers and three crew members slid off the runway as it tried to land at T.F. Green Airport, which got nearly 8 inches of snow, the Providence Journal reported on its website. No injuries were reported, but the airport had to close its runways for about 2 1/2 hours, spokespeople told the newspaper.

The storm canceled hundreds of flights at airports in Chicago and about 300 flights at Boston's busy Logan International Airport. Flights were also canceled at airports in Portland, Maine; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Manchester, N.H.

Few major problems — though plenty of delays — were reported at airports in Philadelphia and the New York area, which had braced for plenty of snow but got mostly sleet and rain. The storm knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses last week, including 137,000 in Pennsylvania, at least 10,000 in northern New England and 20,000 in eastern Canada, authorities reported.

Braving the elements in New York were fans of teen singer Hannah Montana, whose concert in Rochester drew Jolene Horton and her 8-year-old daughter, Paxtyn Brown.

They spent five hours on the road from Schuyler County in the Finger Lakes. "Normally it would have taken 2 1/2 hours, but we wouldn't have missed it for the world," Horton said. AAA Michigan said it helped more than 3,000 motorists on a single day last week. Most had spun out, gotten stuck in a ditch or couldn't start their vehicles, spokeswoman Nancy Cain said.

Many churches hit by the storm canceled morning services last Sunday as law enforcement officials encouraged motorists to stay off the roads, if possible, until conditions improved.

The storm led several museums, such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Port Huron Museum, to close their doors for the day because of the weather.

University of Michigan's winter commencement in nearby Ann Arbor was held as scheduled last Sunday afternoon. Rasheed Mathis, 27, drove from Detroit to see his cousin graduate. "It was nasty," he said of the drive. "Just nasty, but he came to see me graduate and I wanted to be there for him."

The storm also didn't keep fans away from the New England Patriots-New York Jets game at Foxborough, Mass., but they had to shovel off their seats in the stadium. A video of a fire roaring in a fireplace was shown on the scoreboards.

In northeast Pennsylvania, ice and high winds toppled two 800-foot television towers on Penobscot Mountain in Luzerne County, knocking several stations off the air for many viewers.

The storm came less than a week after an ice storm in the Midwest and Northeast that was blamed for at least 38 deaths, mostly in traffic accidents. Up to a million homes and businesses lost power in parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.

Oklahoma utilities said about 108,000 customers were still waiting for electricity as of last Monday, most in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas.

Among those waiting for service to be restored, Choctaw resident Beverly Smith said her trailer had been without power for seven straight days.

"We don't have anywhere to go," said Smith, who lives in the trailer with her 15-year-old son. "We're out of money. Christmas is nine days away, and I have no hope of giving my family a Christmas all."

SOURCE: The Associated Press

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