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U.S. Weather

Northeast Storm's Wake: Nearly 600,000 Without Power

Winter Weather

Feb. 26: A driver stops as a tree hangs over a power line over the road in Farmington, N.H. (AP) (AP)

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Utility crews pushed through deep drifting snow and fallen trees Saturday to restore electricity to homes and businesses that lost power during a slow-moving winter storm that pounded the Northeast with heavy snow, rain and hurricane-force winds.

Nearly every state in the region was left to deal with the fallout of powerful, gusting winds that created near-blizzard conditions areas that now have faced three strong storms this month. Parts of New York got more than two feet of snow while some areas of coastal New England got drenched with flooding rains.

The highest wind reported was 91 mph off the coast of Portsmouth, N.H. -- well above hurricane force of 74 mph. Gusts also hit 60 mph or more from the mountains of West Virginia to New York's Long Island and Massachusetts.

More than 1 million customers lost power because of the storm, and as of Saturday morning nearly 600,000 were still without electricity from Pennsylvania to Maine. New Hampshire's electrical grid was the hardest hit, with more than a quarter-million customers without power. New York had more than 170,000 outages and Maine about 75,000.

Utility crews were hindered by uprooted trees and fallen utility poles.

Michael Wiewel was one of thousands of residents of Kennebunkport, Maine, who were left without electricity. He heard a loud boom from the transformer across the street early Friday and then his lights went out. A short time later, a 50-foot poplar in his yard crashed down on the roof above his bed where and he and his wife were sleeping.

"It sounded like a bomb going off," he said.

Across the street from Wiewel's house, a large tree crashed onto the roof of another home but left a vintage Corvette unscathed.

New York's Ulster County, a region the size of Rhode Island wedged between the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River, took a pounding.

Art Snyder, director of emergency management for Ulster County, said the region's primary utility, Central Hudson, faced its largest storm in its 100-year history.

The stormy weather affected all forms of travel Friday. More than 1,000 flights were canceled, bus service across northern New Jersey was knocked out and roads from Ohio to West Virginia to Maine were closed. State troopers used snowmobiles to reach motorists stranded for hours on an eastern New York highway.

It was wind and rain rather than snow that wreaked havoc in Maine. Southern parts of the state were hit with more than 8 inches of rain, and some beachfront streets were turned into rivers. In Massachusetts, strong wind and rain sent waves crashing over seawalls in coastal communities.

Areas to the south dealt with the third heavy snowfall this month. Monroe, N.Y., received 31 inches, and New York City got 20.9 inches in Central Park, pushing the February total to 36.9 and making it the snowiest month in the city's history. The previous high monthly total recorded in Central Park was 30.5 inches in March 1896, and the previous high for the month of February was 27.9 in 1934.

Friday's storm also made February the snowiest month ever for New Brunswick, N.J.; it has gotten 37 inches so far. This had already been the snowiest winter for Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J., before the latest storm dropped another 4 to 5 inches by midmorning Friday.