Latest wintry blast kicks up powerful wind, heavy snow from Great Lakes to New England
By DAVID N. GOODMAN
Associated Press Writer
DETROIT (AP) — A pre-winter blend of snow, sleet and freezing rain cut visibility and iced over highways from the Great Lakes to New England, dumping up to a foot-and-a-half of snow, 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 today’s classes. A winter storm warning remained in effect today in northern Maine, where visibility was cut by snow blown by wind gusting to 35 mph.
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 this 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 when it landed at T.F. Green Airport, which got nearly 8 inches of snow. No injuries were reported, but the airport had to close its runways for about 2 1/2 hours. Barb Jones, a spokeswoman for Air Wisconsin, which operates the jet, said the incident was under investigation.
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 Sunday, including 137,000 in Pennsylvania, at least 10,000 in northern New England and 20,000 in eastern Canada, authorities reported.
Braving the elements Sunday 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.
The four storm-related deaths in Indiana occurred when a van carrying a woman and her three daughters skidded into a pond in Carmel, Ind. The driver, Batul Abbas, 47, was able to 911 from the van and give the location, but the vehicle was underwater when emergency crews Saturday night, authorities said.
Many churches canceled Sunday morning services as police encouraged people to stay off the roads.
University of Michigan’s winter commencement in nearby Ann Arbor was held as scheduled on 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.
The ice and wind in northeast Pennsylvania toppled two 800-foot television towers on Penobscot Mountain in Luzerne County, knocking several stations off the air.
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.
Today, Oklahoma utilities said just more than 126,000 customers were still waiting for electricity, 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 as of Sunday.
“We don’t have anywhere to go,” said Smith, who lives 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 at all.”
Published in The Messenger 12.17.07