Bloomberg News

More Than 2 Million Without Power After Early U.S. Snowstorm

October 31, 2011

(Updates with comment from New Jersey governor in eighth paragraph.)

Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- More than 2 million homes and businesses remained without power in the U.S. Northeast two days after the biggest October snowstorm in decades.

A record snowfall that began on Oct. 29 brought down trees and downed power lines, knocking out electricity to customers in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. At the peak, more than 3 million customers in the Northeast lost power, according to a Bloomberg calculation from utility website data. The storm hit less than two months after Hurricane Irene, which caused widespread blackouts in the region.

Connecticut Light & Power, a unit of Northeast Utilities, said 753,289, or 60 percent, of its customers were still affected by the storm today. A record 20.3 inches (52 centimeters) of snow fell over two days on Hartford, Connecticut, the National Weather Service reported. The power failure hit almost 770,000 CL&P customers, surpassing the peak caused by Hurricane Irene, the company said.

“Damage is widespread,” Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said at a news conference today in Hartford. “We’re talking about long-term loss of energy for up to a week in a large swath of the state.”

The storm spread wind, rain and snow from West Virginia to Maine. Wet, heavy snow fell on trees that hadn’t yet shed their leaves, causing branches to break and bring down power lines. Thousands of children in the Northeast got the day off from school as fallen branches blocked roads and rail lines.

New York Snow

New York City received 2.9 inches, the biggest October snowfall since records were first kept in 1869, according to the National Weather Service. Before yesterday, the city hadn’t received as much as an inch during October since the 19th century.

Consolidated Edison Inc. and CH Energy Group Inc. reported about 200,000 customers blacked out in New York City and southern New York state this afternoon.

In New Jersey, almost 400,000 people remain without power following the storm, Governor Chris Christie told reporters in Trenton today. Utility crews are expected to return power to about 95 percent of customers by Nov. 3, he said.

The storm affected about 750,000 customers in the state, including causing a blackout at Christie’s home in Mendham, New Jersey, and at the governor’s mansion in Princeton, he said.

Trick-or-Treaters

About 40 percent of customers were without power in Hartford, Connecticut’s capital, prompting Malloy to cancel plans to give out candy to Halloween trick-or-treaters at the governor’s residence.

Power restoration in Connecticut may take as much as a week or more amid tree damage worse than Irene, CL&P said.

Priorities in Connecticut are removing power lines from roads and repairing 18 transmission lines downed by the storm, Jeffrey D. Butler, chief operating officer of CL&P, said at the Hartford news conference today. Connecticut schools probably will remain closed until their power is restored, said Malloy.

NJ Transit said service on two train lines, Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton, was suspended because of downed trees and overhead wires.

Amtrak canceled trains between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts, as well as service between Boston and Albany, New York, according to a statement today.

Historic Storm

The storm was historic for both its timing and the amount of snow, said Kristina Pydynowski, a meteorologist for AccuWeather.com Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. The system brought rain, snow and winds of 69 miles-an-hour (111 kilometers per hour).

Numerous snowfall records were set, Pydynowski said in a phone interview yesterday.

“We know of at least 20 cities that set records from this storm, and there were likely many more set in small towns,” she said.

The storm caused 923 flights to be canceled Oct. 29, according to FlightAware.com. New York’s three area airports and Boston’s Logan International Airport reported 10 cancellations today.

Hurricane Irene, which cut a similar path across the Northeast in August, knocked out power to as many as 6.69 million people at its peak, according to U.S. Energy Department estimates.

AccuWeather said the storm dropped the most snow on the Northeast this month since 1979.

According to the National Weather Service, Plainfield, Massachusetts, about 100 miles west of Boston, received 30.8 inches of snow. Jaffrey, New Hampshire, got 31.4 inches, according to the weather service.

The Associated Press reported at least 12 deaths blamed on the weather, including an 84-year-old Pennsylvania man killed when a snow-covered tree limb fell on his home.

--With assistance from Elise Young, Terrence Dopp and Stacie Servetah in Trenton, Lananh Nguyen in London and Angela Greiling Keane and Dan Hart in Washington. Editors: Tina Davis, Steven Frank

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Polson in New York at jpolson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net


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