Nor’easter packing heavy snow, wind threatens new outages

PHILADELPHIA — Utility workers took advantage of milder temperatures and sunshine Tuesday in their scramble to restore power to thousands of customers around the Northeast, as another snowy, blowy nor’easter threatened a new round of outages.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that stretched from eastern Pennsylvania to most of New England, from late Tuesday night into Thursday morning.

Heavy, wet snow and gusting winds could take down trees and snap power lines already weakened from last week’s storm, adding to stress for customers who’ve gone days without power.

The outages turned to outrage for a New Jersey man whose home had been without electricity since Friday, who threatened to kidnap a utility company employee and blow up a substation. Robert Winter, 63, was charged with making terroristic threats, according to police in Vernon.

More than a foot of snow is forecast for some interior areas, the weather service said. Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains and parts of western Massachusetts could see up to 18 inches.

Damaging winds are in the forecast with gusts of up to 60 mph at Cape Cod, 45 mph at the Jersey shore and 30 mph around suburban Philadelphia.

Depending on the storm’s track, communities along the Interstate 95 corridor could see either lots of rain, heavy snow, or a mix of each.

Transportation departments in Philadelphia and Boston loaded up salt trucks and pre-treated roads Tuesday afternoon, and some airlines already were waiving ticket change fees for airports in the storm’s projected path, such as Newark, Philadelphia, Boston and New York’s JFK.

Amtrak said it was cancelling some train service Wednesday, and regional rail trains in Philadelphia will operate on a weekend schedule on Wednesday.

School districts and municipal operations around Pennsylvania and Connecticut already were announcing they would close Wednesday. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared states of emergency.

The National Weather Service said travel is not recommended Wednesday and urged people to stay off the roads to allow emergency crews and clean-up crews to do their jobs. Some areas will get as much as 2-3 inches an hour.

Workers in a coastal Massachusetts town hit particularly hard by last week’s nor’easter were working frantically to head off further damage from another severe storm coming this week.

Public works crews and private contractors in Duxbury reinforced the town’s crumbling seawall with truckloads of large rocks on Tuesday, but Department of Public Works Director Pete Buttkus called it a short-term fix.

Rene Read, town manager of the community about 30 miles (48 kilometres) south of Boston, said the seawall “is in crisis and is in the process of failing.”

A slight consolation is that the storm is not expected to bring the coastal flooding like the one last week. Some New England and New Jersey coastal communities still are underwater from the earlier storm.

 

Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS A lineman repairs utility lines from a bucket truck along Route 3A in Marshfield, Mass., in the aftermath of a nor’easter storm on Sunday.

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