Two dead, over 130,000 without power after fierce storms

ELMIRA, New York Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:49pm EDT

1 of 9. A utility worker repairs damage to power lines the morning after the town was hit by a tornado in Elmira, New York July 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Adam Fenster

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ELMIRA, New York (Reuters) - Violent thunderstorms barreled through the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic regions of the eastern United States late on Thursday, killing two people and cutting power to more than 130,000 homes and businesses in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The storms spawned at least one tornado, which touched down in Elmira, New York, toppling trees and ripping off rooftops, the National Weather Service said.

Officials in Pennsylvania and New York reported two storm-related deaths.

A woman camping in Genesee, Pennsylvania, near the New York state line, took refuge from the storm in her car. She was killed when a tree fell on the car, said Potter County emergency services director John Hetrick.

New York City police said a 61-year-old man in Brooklyn's Cobble Hill neighborhood was killed when scaffolding at a church collapsed on him as the storm passed through near 8 p.m.

He was identified as Richard Schwartz, a longtime assistant attorney general in New York who was at the forefront of investigations involving such high profile targets as Microsoft and the National Football League.

"It's possible lightning struck the top of the roof, causing some bricks to fall on top of the scaffolding," said a police spokesman.

The storms forced the cancellation of over 900 flights on Thursday, according to FlightAware, a Texas-based company that tracks the status of flights. The highest number of cancellations was at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

The one reported tornado hit Elmira's east side hardest. In one four-block neighborhood, most homes had trees toppled on them, street signs were bent and tree trunks had debris wrapped around them. Several cars were crushed by downed trees.

One two-story brick building had most of its second story torn off in the storm, and most power remained out for the city's 29,000 residents on Friday morning.

Meteorologists said 70-mile-per-hour (113-kph) winds were reported in parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.

As the storms sent black, menacing clouds across cities and open country, hail ranging from dime- to quarter-sized fell in some areas of Pennsylvania, AccuWeather.com said.

By midday Friday, utilities across the region had made only modest progress in restoring power, with more than 130,000 homes and businesses still without electricity.

Pennsylvania accounted for a majority of those still without power, with more than 85,000 customers in the dark early Friday, according to electric companies serving the region.

Roughly 34,000 people in New York were without power, most of them in the southern-tier region near Elmira, according to NYSEG. About 13,500 customers in eastern Ohio were still offline, according to AEP Ohio.

The storms formed along a cold front stretching from the Ohio Valley into the northeast, bringing the threat of damaging winds, hail and tornadoes, according to the Weather Channel.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Gray and Alex Dobuzinskis; Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by Eric Walsh and Todd Eastham)

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Comments (9)
amos033 wrote:
Weather conditions will only worsen, it will not get better. Have we all forgotten July 1, 2012, when millions were without power for days?
The Sun is growing stronger and the weather more violent. Folks, it will not get better. The worst drought in 50 years covering America’s farmlands will send food prices higher. Repent and return to the Lord God.

Jul 27, 2012 11:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
MadAsHell2 wrote:
But, of course, there’s no Global Warming!

Fitting that this happens in the United States — perhaps the only country on Earth that is stupid enough to deny that global warming is happening …

Perhaps the economic impact, and the impact on air travel, will eventually be enough to awaken the sleeping masses from their American Idol watching — one can only hope!

Jul 27, 2012 11:15am EDT  --  Report as abuse
USAPragmatist wrote:
@amos033, actually the Sun is not ‘getting stronger’, in fact it maybe entereing another Mauder Minimum type phase. You need, if you have the intelluctual curiosity instead of just watching FOX News and the such, to do your own research on this. Here is a start for you…

http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/pip/2011JD017013.shtml

Jul 27, 2012 11:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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