By Scott Malone
BOSTON (Reuters) – A powerful storm lashing the northeastern United States on Friday killed at least five people as winds topping 80 miles per hour (129 km per hour) helped flood streets in Boston, ground flights and halt train service across the region.
Almost 1.7 million homes and businesses were without power in the Northeast and Midwest as the storm pummeled the East Coast from Virginia to Maine. Government offices in Washington closed as winds gusted to more than 60 mph (96 kph) in the U.S. capital.
A flood surge at extreme high tide sent seawater into Boston’s coastal streets, the second time this year that the area had flooded. Wind gusts approaching 70 mph (113 kph) helped force in the water while downing trees and power lines.
The high water receded in the afternoon, but the National Weather Service said Boston could face renewed flooding with a near-record high tide forecast around midnight on Friday.
“That one still looks like it’s going to be on target for at least moderate coastal flooding, which means we’re going to see some problems in Boston,” said Jim Hayes, a meteorologist with the agency’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
Snow and rain are forecast to taper off through Friday night and into Saturday as skies clear, Hayes said, adding that winds are also expected to drop somewhat overnight and into Saturday as the offshore storm system recedes.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency, streamlining state aid to communities harmed by high winds.
The storm packed a deadly punch, with a falling tree killing a man in his 70s in Newport, Rhode Island, a police spokesman said.
In Putnam Valley, New York, an 11-year-old boy was killed when a tree crashed into his home, WPIX television reported, citing Putnam County sheriff’s deputies. A spokesman for the sheriff’s department could not be reached for comment.
A 44-year-old male passenger in a truck was killed in James City County, Virginia, when an oak tree toppled onto the vehicle, police said in a statement.
In Chesterfield County, Virginia, a tree fell onto a home and struck a sleeping 6-year-old boy, the county said in a statement. The child died of his injuries at a hospital.
Outside Baltimore, a 77-year-old woman was struck by a falling tree branch at her home near Kingsville, Maryland, a Baltimore County Fire Department spokesman said.
Private forecasting service AccuWeather said the storm dumped as much as 18 inches (46 cm) of snow on parts of New York state and Pennsylvania.
It also snarled transportation from the Middle Atlantic into New England, with more than a quarter of flights into and out of New York’s three major airports and Boston’s airport canceled, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.
One flight landing at Washington’s Dulles International Airport came in through turbulence so rough that most passengers became sick and the pilots were on the verge of becoming ill, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Passenger railroad Amtrak halted service between Boston and Washington through Friday, and said it was suspending southbound service out of the U.S. capital until at least Saturday morning because of downed trees on the track.
Hayes said top wind speeds had been clocked at 83 mph (134 kph) in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and reached 78 mph (125 kph) at Etlan, Virginia.
(Reporting by Scott Malone and Ian Simpson in Washington; additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg, Alana Wise, Scott DiSavino and Gina Cherelus in New York, David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Daniel Wallis and Lisa Shumaker)