13 dead, millions without power after rare storm

BOSTON Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:42pm EDT

1 of 19. A man looks at fallen tree that is seen hanging on electrical wires, two days after an early snowfall in Weston, Massachusetts October 31, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Adam Hunger

Related Video

Related Topics

BOSTON (Reuters) - Devastation from a rare and deadly October snowstorm lingered in the Northeast where 1.6 million homes were still without power on Monday, schools were closed and downed trees and powerlines snarled traffic.

The storm that raged from West Virginia to Maine from Saturday until late Sunday was blamed for at least 13 deaths, most on slippery roads.

Halloween fun was postponed. Ghoul and goblin decorations were blanketed with record snowfall for October in many places, such as 32 inches measured in the western Massachusetts town of Peru, according to the National Weather Service.

Theo Brinkerhoff, 4, who planned to dress as a ghost on Monday but was forced to wear a heavy sweater and snow boots under his costume to keep warm, refused to believe it was the bewitching autumn holiday.

"It's not Halloween, because it's still winter," he said while visiting grandparents in Amherst, Massachusetts, a town still mostly in the dark.

Many roads were still barricaded to steer traffic away from downed trees and power lines. Utility officials said the storm caused more tree damage than most winter storms because leaves had not yet fallen so trees caught far more snow than usual.

"It was like wet cement that just adhered to trees, branches, leaves and power lines," said David Graves, spokesman for utility National Grid.

"That's what really caused the damage, the weight of that snow," he said.

In New York, three days after authorities confiscated their generators, hundreds of anti-Wall Street protesters struggled to stay warm and dry after the snow storm. Some got tips on how to deal with the cold weather from homeless people.

"They have the most amazing knowledge base for dealing with cold weather," protester Justin Stone-Diaz said. "So honestly, we're getting it from people with experience."

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have camped in a New York park for six weeks to protest against economic inequality.


It will likely be days before power is restored to all residents in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and other states hit hard by the storm.

Despite a sunny Monday, several New Jersey Transit train lines going into New York City remained suspended.

Connecticut was particularly hard hit and Governor Dannel Malloy said 100 state roads were closed and about 200 more partially closed. He called the power outages in his state the worst in history. As residents escaped homes without heat and electricity, hotels in central Connecticut were sold out.

Snow days, usually not tapped until at least after Thanksgiving, were declared by scores of public schools that remained shut throughout the Northeast on Monday.

While children were delighted with the surprise long weekend, their parents were advised that because of downed wires, Halloween trick-or-treat routines should be adjusted so children were home by dark and an adult accompanied them.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, the city asked parents, schools and neighbors to postpone Halloween celebrations until Thursday, when the weather was expected to be warmer and downed trees and power lines would likely be cleared.

The New Hampshire communities of Manchester and Nashua asked parents to put off trick or treating and reschedule the annual candy collection until Sunday, November 6.

The outages include roughly 750,000 customers still without power on Monday in Connecticut; about 46,000 in Massachusetts; more than 390,000 in New Jersey; 350,000 in Pennsylvania; nearly 60,000 in New York; and about 14,000 in Maine.

(Additional reporting by Zach Howard in Western Massachusetts; Mary Ellen Godin in Connecticut, Barbara Goldberg in New Jersey and Sharon Reich and Edward McAllister in New York; editing by Cynthia Johnston and Anthony Boadle)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (3)
McBob08 wrote:
Welcome to Hallowe’en, Climate Change-style. More severe weather, earlier in the year than normal. If the Berkley Earth Summary (http://berkeleyearth.org/Resources/Berkeley_Earth_Summary_20_Oct) which proved Global Warming is real doesn’t convince the members of the Climate Change Deniers Cult, this unseasonable storm should.

And ignore the ones who still cling to that moronic, ignorant stance of “how can the world be getting warmer when we had a snow catastrophe”. It shows that they haven’t even bothered to look into what Global Warming really means, and what it does. All the extremes get more extreme and more frequent.

That’s the world we live in these days, and 98% of the experts say it’s significantly anthropogenic (caused by Man). Maybe this is the wake-up call that the Denier Hoaxers will finally pay attention to?

Oct 30, 2011 12:28am EDT  --  Report as abuse
JSchrubbe wrote:
Bjimmer… Really? I mean… REALLY?!

You reply with an insult about Al Gore and nothing else?

How can we expect to get anything positive done if people just mock each other back and forth?

Whatever you want to call it… the frequency and cost of environmental disasters is STATISTICALLY increasing.

We must be focused on setting aside the appropriate resources to tend to these problem – not just continue on the same path like the STATISTICS are false. Natural disasters and routine weather (costs of clearing snow) are bankrupting our local governments – and all you can do is come up with an insult.


Oct 31, 2011 4:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MikeBee wrote:
I grew up in upstate NY during the 50s and 60s. We never got snowed out for Holloween. More extreme weather more frequently, here we come.

At what point will the physical reality of climate change outweigh the fossil fuel inspired ideology of the deniers? And, will it be so late that we are trapped into a crisis of Biblical proportions?

Haveing a nice day may become a distant memory.

Oct 31, 2011 6:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.