April 17, 2007 / 1:58 AM / 10 years ago

Storm whips Northeast, batters marathoners

<p>A pedestrian walks through the flooded streets of Hoboken, New Jersey, April 16, 2007. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>

BOSTON (Reuters) - Record rainfall soaked New York while gale-force winds slowed Boston Marathon runners, 17 inches of snow blanketed Vermont and thousands lost power as a fierce storm whipped the U.S. Northeast on Monday.

“This is without question the wettest storm we’ve ever seen in April,” said Tim Morrin, meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s bureau for New York City.

Rains washed out more than 75 roads in New Hampshire, where 200 National Guard troops helped evacuate four towns and reinforce cresting rivers with sandbags.

“The damage I have seen today is some of the worst our state has experienced in the last 20 years,” Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell after surveying the hardest-hit areas in his state.

At least three people died including a man who drowned in his stalled car in New Jersey, according to local news reports. Tens of thousands lost electricity after high winds uprooted trees and downed power lines.

In Maine alone, 125,300 homes and businesses were without power by late afternoon in an area spanning 11,000 square miles

-- nearly the size of Belgium.

Runners in the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annually contested marathon, began the race wearing gloves and facing sideways rain with wind gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph) before conditions improved and the rain eased.

<p>A woman climbs into her car in the flooded streets of Hoboken, New Jersey April 16, 2007. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>

“I’ve not run in conditions this bad,” Mike Stirling said as he prepared himself for the race, which was the slowest since 1977 because of the strong headwinds.

‘SOAK-ATHON’

Local media called it the “soak-athon” or “monsoon Monday” as race fans huddled under umbrellas or garbage bags.

Slideshow (13 Images)

“The weather was not so good, so the race was tough,” Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya said after winning his third Boston Marathon.

New York City saw its biggest daily rainfall for April at 7.57 inches . That figure was just shy of the daily record for any month of 8.2 inches set on September 23, 1882, according to the National Weather Service.

Parts of northern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire received up to 17 inches of snow, while people in southern areas sloshed through flooded homes.

“I have never seen anything like this,” Ted Nichols, 39, a New Hampshire car salesman. “I got about 6 inches of water in my basement.”

Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut declared states of emergency, making them eligible for federal assistance.

The National Weather Service called for “unsettled, chilly weather” through at least Thursday for most of the region -- unusual for a time when trees are flowering and stores are stocking summer beach gear.

Additional reporting by Svea Herbst, Scott Malone, Jon Hurdle, Dan Trotta, Matthew Robinson and Brian Early

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