Deadly storms leave thousands without power in eastern U.S

A view of clouds, part of a weather system seen from near Franklin, Texas, U.S., in this still image from social media video dated April 13, 2019. TWITTER @DOC_SANGER/via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Tornadoes, wind gusts of up to 70 mph and pounding hail remained threats early on Monday from eastern New York and into New England, as the remnants of a deadly storm push out to sea, the National Weather Service said.

More than 79,000 homes and businesses were without power in Virginia, according to the tracking site PowerOutage.US, with 89,000 more outages reported across Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Maryland and New York.

The affected areas will get heavy rains, winds with gusts of up to 70 mph (110 kph) and the possibility of hail, NWS Weather Prediction Center in Maryland said.

“This is an ongoing threat,” said Brian Hurley, from the center.

“There are short spin-ups, pockets of heavy rain and damaging winds that can still hit before this pushes off shore.”

The weekend’s storm brought tornadoes that killed at least five people, including three children, in the U.S. South, officials said.

The massive storm system sped from Texas eastward with dozens of twisters reported as touching down across the South from Texas through Georgia into Pennsylvania.

Nearly 2,300 U.S. flights were canceled by Sunday evening, more then 90 percent of them at airports in Chicago; Houston, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio and a dozen major airports on the Eastern Seaboard, according to FlightAware.com.

But no major flight delays were reported on the east coast before 6 a.m. Monday.

The storm’s cold front brought snow to Chicago on Sunday, with 1 to 3 inches (2.5-7.6 cm) reported in central Illinois.

Two children, siblings aged three and eight, were killed on Saturday when a tree fell on the car in which they were sitting in Pollok, Texas, said a spokeswoman for the Angelina County Sheriff’s Department.

A third child, Sebastian Omar Martinez, 13, drowned late on Saturday when he fell into a drainage ditch filled with flash floodwaters near Monroe, Louisiana, said Deputy Glenn Springfield of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office.

In another storm death nearby, an unidentified victim’s body was trapped in a vehicle submerged in floodwaters in Calhoun, Louisiana, Springfield said.

In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant said one person was killed and 11 injured over the weekend as tornadoes ripped through 17 counties and left 26,000 homes and businesses without electricity.

In addition, three people were killed when a private jet crashed in Mississippi on Saturday, although Bryant said it was unclear whether it was caused by the weather.

Soaking rains could snarl the Monday morning commute on the East Coast before the storm moves off to sea.

“The biggest impact rush hour-wise probably will be Boston, around 7 to 8 o’clock in the morning, and around New York City around 5 or 6 o’clock, before sunrise,” NWS meteorologist Bob Oravec said.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, and Barbara Goldberg and Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Alison Williams)

Schools shut, flights canceled as storm sweeps U.S. Midwest, East Coast

A local resident removes snow from a car during a winter storm in Washington, U.S., February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

(Reuters) – A winter storm swept across much of the U.S. Midwest and East Coast on Wednesday, hampering air travel and prompting officials to close federal offices in Washington and several large public school systems.

The National Weather Service warned the storm could make travel very difficult, with snow, sleet and freezing rain potentially causing downed branches and power outages.

The storm reached from northern Minnesota down through Missouri and east into the Mid-Atlantic region and could bring as much as 6 inches (15 cm) of snow along with sleet and freezing rain, the National Weather Service said in an advisory.

The storm forced the closing of federal agencies in Washington as well as schools in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.

Hundreds of flights were delayed or canceled in and out of major airports in Washington, Philadelphia and Chicago, according to Flightaware.com. Airports told passengers on social media to check their airlines for delays and cancellations.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Worst is over for winter storm that clobbered U.S. Midwest, D.C. and New England

Visitors make their way through snow left by Winter Storm Gia, which paralyzed much of the nation's midsection, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – The deadly winter storm that clobbered a swath of the U.S. Midwest and East Coast over the weekend is blowing out to sea but leaves as much as 13 inches of snow in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, and frigid arctic air parked over New England.

All Washington D.C. federal offices would be closed on Monday, but train and bus service in the metro D.C. area would resume after being shut down on Sunday, officials said.

“There’s some digging out to do,” Jim Hayes, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said early Monday.

“In Virginia, D.C. and Maryland, 6-to-12 inches of snow fell with some places getting 13 inches,” he said.

The good news is that around noon on Monday the clouds should start clearing and temperatures will rise into the low 40’s Fahrenheit, Hayes said.

The snowstorm is blamed for the deaths of at least eight people in road accidents across the U.S. Midwest and possibly also the death of an Illinois state police officer who was killed on Saturday during a traffic stop, officials said.

Air traffic at Ronald Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport was returning to normal. Early on Monday, fewer than 400 flights were canceled in affected areas and about 1,600 were delayed, according the online flight tracking site FlightAware.

At the height of the storm, more than 1,600 flights were canceled in and out of U.S. airports on Sunday, the bulk of them at Washington’s Reagan and Dulles, the website reported.

Winter storm warnings for millions of Americans in 10 states and Washington, D.C., were being lifted early Monday in a swath of the United States from Colorado to the East Coast, Hayes said.

“But up north it’s going to stay cold,” Hayes said.

Boston temperatures will creep up from the teens (Fahrenheit) into the low 20s. Temperatures in Portland, Maine will top-out at 11 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 Celsius) as a core of Arctic air stays parked over New England, Hayes said.

“The worst is in Big Black River, Maine,” said Hayes. “It hit minus 20 (minus 29 Celsius) overnight.”

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Peter Graff)

Retail U.S. gasoline prices surge as Harvey keeps refiners shut

A gas station submerged under flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey is seen in Rose City, Texas, U.S., on August 31, 2017.

By Erwin Seba and Devika Krishna Kumar

HOUSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Retail U.S. gasoline prices hit two-year highs and global shipping routes were scrambled as the nation’s largest refiners remained shut on Friday, even as Storm Harvey lost strength.

Major fuel pipelines feeding the U.S. Northeast and Midwest were either closed or severely curtailed, prompting shortages in some areas and dramatic spikes in wholesale prices.

The storm, which began as a hurricane a week ago, has roiled global fuel markets, and tankers carrying millions of barrels of fuel have been rerouted to the Americas to avert shortages. European refining margins hit a two-year high amid the surge in exports.

Indeed, the effects of the storm will continue for several weeks, if not months, after Harvey hammered the Gulf Coast for days and brought floods that buried Houston and the surrounding area in several feet of water. It knocked out about 4.4 million barrels of daily refining capacity, slightly more than Japan uses daily, and the signs of restarts were tentative.

The nation’s largest refiner, Motiva’s Port Arthur facility, which can handle 600,000 barrels of crude daily, will be shut for at least two weeks, according to sources familiar with plant operations.

Other plants in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area are expected to face similar challenges restarting as waters continued to rise, even as flooding receded in Houston, some 85 miles (137 km) west.

In Corpus Christi, where Harvey first made landfall, refiners Citgo Petroleum Corp, Flint Hills Resources and Valero Energy Corp were moving to restart their plants, along with the nearby Valero Three Rivers refinery, according to sources.

Benchmark U.S. gasoline prices  have surged more than 15 percent since the storm began, but in trading Friday, the contract for October delivery lost 1 percent, the first decline in five days. September’s contract had risen by 25 percent, but stopped trading Thursday.

U.S. crude prices continued to slump along with demand, with the futures contract falling 0.4 percent to $47.02 a barrel.

The national average for a regular gallon of gasoline rose to $2.519 as of Friday morning, according to motorists advocacy group AAA, with even gaudier increases in the U.S. Southeast, which relies heavily on Gulf supplies. South Carolina, for instance, has seen prices rise nearly 30 cents, and prices were up nearly 20 cents in Texas, where fuel shortages were already evident.

 

SHORTAGE WORRIES

Suppliers in the Chicago area were taking steps to prevent shortages, and banking on hope.

Dave Luchtman, owner and president of Lucky’s Energy Service Inc., a small distributor in Chicago, has rented two storage trailers that hold 8,000 gallons each, expected to be delivered Friday.

“So I have a little lifeline,” Luchtman said.

Refineries so far have not given any indication that there are fuel shortages, said Mario Orlandi, an operations manager at Olson Service Co, which supplies diesel and gasoline to the Chicago area.

“Cross our fingers, keep our tanks full,” Orlandi said.

The global impact of the storm was being felt in Venezuela, where financially strapped state-run PDVSA is facing the possibility that scheduled deliveries – tankers floating offshore for weeks due to non-payment – will make their way to other Latin American destinations.

At least two cargoes scheduled to deliver to Venezuela currently in the port of Curacao are now expected to be delivered to Ecuador.

Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and other countries want to tap some of the 7 million barrels of fuel sitting in the Caribbean sea, according to three traders and shippers.

European and Asian traders have diverted millions of barrels of fuel to the Americas. That included a rare opportunity for exports of jet fuel from Europe to the United States, reversing the usual flow of shipments.

Supplies from distant markets may not arrive soon enough to avert a crunch after the Colonial Pipeline, the biggest U.S. fuel system, said it would shut part of its main lines to the Northeast.

“We are going to have outages from Texas to Boston,” said one East Coast market source. The market is “way under-appreciating the magnitude of this.”

Several East Coast refineries have run out of gasoline for immediate delivery as they sent fuel elsewhere, and concerns over shortages ahead of the U.S. Labor Day extended weekend were mounting.

 

(Reporting by Erwin Seba and Devika Krishna Kumar; Additional reporting by Jarrett Renshaw, Susannah Gonzales, Marianna Parraga, Karolin Schaps, Ron Bousso, Libby George and Seng Li Peng; Writing by David Gaffen; Editing by Susan Fenton and Bernadette Baum)

 

After weird winter, U.S. forecasters see warm, wet spring

A couple embraces in front of an ice-covered fountain in Bryant Park in New York City, U.S.

By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – If you liked the balmy weather that dominated on the U.S. East Coast and much of the South this winter, you will probably enjoy the spring of 2017, too.

The new season, which officially begins on Monday, should bring more of the same in both regions, forecasters say, though for the East, a final twist of winter weirdness will have to play out before the region basks in the warmth again.

Spring, which starts with the vernal equinox at 6:28 a.m. EDT on Monday, will begin warmly but Wednesday’s temperatures are predicted to plunge into the 20s (-1 to -6 Celsius) and teens in the U.S. Northeast, with a snowstorm possible in the Midwest, according to Accuweather.com.

After the warmest February on record in New York City and other parts of the Northeast, winter returned with a vengeance last week with a paralyzing snowstorm and sustained stretch of sub-freezing temperatures.

“That was our three days of winter,” said Jon Gottschalck, chief forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In New York, where pedestrians are still navigating deep piles of snow and ice, the mercury was expected to dip below the freezing mark overnight and then climb to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) on the first day of spring.

“Hang tight, bear with it, because our forecast for spring is above-average temperatures,” Gottschalck said.

That may come as cold comfort for the nation’s capital. Last week’s cold snap annihilated half of the pink-and-white cherry blossoms that typically draw 1.5 million tourists to Washington in early April. Lured to an early bloom by historic warmth, they were dangerously exposed, said National Park Service officials, who soldiered on with a festival celebrating survivors expected to reach peak bloom around March 25.

While the East Coast luxuriated in the mild temperatures, and Texas and Louisiana had the warmest winter in more than a century, the West Coast enjoyed a welcome stretch of wet weather after years of drought.

Nevada and Wyoming set records for precipitation, while California had the second wettest winter in the 123 years of record-keeping, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

Temperatures for April, May and June were expected to be above normal in the Southern Plains, lower Mississippi Valley and the East Coast, said NOAA meteorologist Dan Petersen. For the West Coast, the long-range forecast was still unclear.

But NOAA is calling for a wetter-than-normal spring on the Gulf Coast and in the Northern Plains, where above-average snowfall in North Dakota and Idaho could trigger flooding.

On the final day of winter, almost 110,000 animal lovers worldwide remained glued to a YouTube streaming video of a pregnant giraffe named “April,” who is overdue to give birth at Animal Adventure Park in upstate New York.

Much more of a wait may mean a spring birth amid winter temperatures.

(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Frank McGurty and Sandra Maler)

Storms that pounded U.S. South seen easing leaving 5 dead

National Weather Service forecast map for January 3rd, 2017

(Reuters) – A severe storm system that left five people dead in the U.S. South is expected to weaken significantly on Tuesday, bringing only light rainfall along the East Coast, officials said.

The storms eased a day after strong winds from what is believed to have been a tornado killed four people in southeast Alabama, and a man was found drowned in floodwater in northwest Florida, state officials said.

“The threat of severe weather is much lower today,” meteorologist Bob Oravec of the Weather Prediction Center said by telephone.

Between half an inch and an inch (1.3 to 2.5 cm) of rain was expected to fall along the East Coast on Tuesday, including in Washington D.C. and in parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, Oravec said.

The rainfall threat was diminishing as the storm moved out of the South toward the U.S. Northeast, he said.

Unlike on Monday, when 3 to 5 inches (7.6 to 12.7 cm) of rain soaked parts of the U.S. South, causing flooding in some areas, no major floods were expected along the East Coast.

“Without a doubt it will be quieter” than on Monday, John Hart, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center, said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Mark Heinrich)

U.S. East Coast to feel blast of arctic air that chilled Midwest

Pedestrians make their way along the Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

By Timothy Mclaughlin

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Residents of the U.S. East Coast on Thursday felt a blast of arctic air that earlier swept across the Midwest, with a large swath of the country now under a wind-chill advisory and Boston facing possible record-low temperatures on Friday.

The arctic air began blowing south from Canada into the Midwest earlier this week, prompting authorities to warn of the risk of frostbite and hypothermia.

The frigid air spread to the East Coast on Thursday, with the National Weather Service forecasting temperatures in New York City around 25 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-4 degrees Celsius) and similar cold in other cities including Philadelphia, Washington and Boston.

“The coldest of the arctic air is just now arriving onto the East Coast,” meteorologist Patrick Burke of the Weather Prediction Center said in a telephone interview.

Temperatures might drop enough in Boston that on Friday it could approach a record low, Burke said. Other areas along the East Coast as far south as Norfolk, Virginia, will also be unusually cold.

Residents in Chicago faced temperatures in the single digits and a wind chill of minus-16 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-27 degrees Celsius) on Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Around 150 schools in the Chicago area were closed or scheduled to open late, due to the cold. Chicago Public Schools were in session and opened on time, according to a statement.

“Chicago’s cold goes beyond the physical level of coldness. It pinches your soul,” Twitter user Ivan Korkes wrote.

A woman whose body was found outside in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Monday has been determined to have died of hypothermia, according the Star Tribune newspaper, which cited the medical examiners’ office.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said in a statement he would activate the state’s severe cold weather protocol beginning on Thursday evening, directing state officials to work with shelters to bring in homeless people.

Cold temperatures in the Midwest were expected to persist on Thursday, with certain areas from North Dakota to western Pennsylvania under wind chill advisories, Burke said.

The heaviest snowfall in the nation on Thursday will be around the Great Lakes in Michigan where up to 10 inches (25 cm) of snow was expected, and in parts of the U.S. West where a storm is pushing inland from the Pacific Coast, Burke said.

The Sierra Nevada mountain range in California and the mountains around Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming could receive more than two feet (61 cm) of snow, Burke said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Will Dunham)

Attack on web provider disrupts some sites located on U.S. East Coast

A padlock is displayed at the Alert Logic booth during the 2016 Black Hat cyber-security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada,

By Jim Finkle and Dustin Volz

(Reuters) – Service of some major internet sites was disrupted for several hours on Friday morning as internet infrastructure provider Dyn said it was hit by a cyber attack that disrupted traffic mainly on the U.S. East Coast.

Social network Twitter &, music-streamer Spotify, discussion site Reddit and The Verge news site were among the companies whose services were reported to be down on Friday morning.

Amazon.com Inc’s web services division, one of the world’s biggest cloud computing companies, also disclosed an outage that lasted several hours on Friday morning. Amazon could not immediately be reached for comment.

It was unclear who was responsible for the Dyn attack, which the company said disrupted operations for about two hours.

It is the latest in an increasingly menacing string of “denial of service” attacks disrupting internet sites by overwhelming servers with web traffic. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned on Oct. 14 that hackers were infecting routers, printers, smart TVs and other connected devices to build powerful armies of “bots” that can shut down websites.

Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Dyn, told Reuters he was not sure if the outages at Dyn and Amazon were connected.

“We provide service to Amazon but theirs is a complex network so it is hard to be definitive about causality at the moment,” he said.

Salesforce.com Inc’s  Heroku cloud-computing service platform, which runs on Amazon Web Services, disclosed a service outage that it said was related to a denial of service attack “against one of our DNS providers.”

Dyn said it was still trying to determine how the attack led to the outage.

“Our first priority over the last couple of hours has been our customers and restoring their performance,” Dyn Executive Vice President Scott Hilton said in a statement.

He said the problem was resolved at about 9:20 a.m. EDT (1320 GMT). It earlier reported its engineers were working to respond to an “attack” that mainly affected users on the East Coast.

An FBI representative said she had no immediate comment.

Dyn is a Manchester, New Hampshire-based provider of services for managing domain name servers (DNS), which act as switchboards connecting internet traffic. Requests to access sites are transmitted through DNS servers that direct them to computers that host websites.

Dyn’s customers include some of the world’s biggest corporations and Internet firms, such as Pfizer, Visa, Netflix and Twitter, SoundCloud and BT.

Attacking a large DNS provider can create massive disruptions because such firms are responsible for forwarding large volumes of internet traffic.

(Reporting By Jim Finkle in Boston and Dustin Volz in Washington; Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in Frankurt and Malathi Nayak in New York; Editing by Bill Trott)

Hurricane Matthew hits Haiti, heads for Cuba and then U.S.

Hurricane Matthew is seen in the Caribbean Sea in this enhanced infrared image from NOAA's GOES-East satellite

By Makini Brice

LES CAYES, Haiti (Reuters) – The fiercest Caribbean storm in almost a decade slammed Haiti on Tuesday with 145 mile-per-hour (230 kph) winds and surging seas that flooded coastal towns, killing at least one person and tearing at trees and rooftops before moving out to sea.

The eye of the violent and slow-moving Category 4 Hurricane Matthew passed over the western tip of Haiti, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, bringing devastating winds, torrential rains and a storm surge with massive waves. The storm was forecast to remain powerful as it made its way to Cuba and the Bahamas.

A hurricane watch was issued for parts of southeast Florida, which the forecasters said Matthew could reach late on Thursday.

Haitian port town Les Cayes, named for the sandy islands off its shore and twice destroyed by hurricanes in the 18th century, was hard hit.

“The situation in Les Cayes is catastrophic, the city is flooded, you have trees lying in different places and you can barely move around, the wind has damaged many houses and taken away their rooftops,” said Deputy Mayor Marie Claudette Regis Delerme, speaking from the town of about 70,000 people.

Regis Delerme said she herself had to flee from a building where she was attending a meeting about the storm, when a gust of wind ripped the roof off.

“It is very difficult to even try to help those who need assistance right now, and we lack financial means to do so,” she said.

One man died as the storm crashed through his home in the nearby beach town of Port Salut, Haiti’s civil protection service said. He had been too sick to leave for a shelter, officials said. A fisherman was killed in heavy seas over the weekend as the storm approached, and another was missing.

There was no immediate word on other potential casualties in the poorest country in the Americas.

RUNNING FOR COVER

Overnight, Haitians living in vulnerable coastal shacks on the western Tiburon Peninsula frantically sought shelter as Matthew closed in. Several districts in southern Haiti were flooded, with crops inundated with ocean and rain water.

As much as 3 feet (1 meter) of rain was forecast to fall over hills that are largely deforested and prone to flash floods and mudslides, threatening villages as well as shantytowns in the capital Port-au-Prince, where heavy rain fell overnight.

The hurricane comes at a time when tens of thousands of people are still living in flimsy tents and makeshift dwellings in Haiti after a 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people.

More than 9,000 people were huddled in shelters across Haiti, authorities said as the eye of the storm passed over the remote fishing town of Les Anglais.

Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides were likely in southern and northwestern Haiti, the hurricane center said. It expected Matthew to remain a powerful hurricane through at least Wednesday night.

The outer bands of the storm reached the area late on Monday, flooding dozens of houses in Les Anglais when the ocean rose, the mayor said.

In the nearby town of Tiburon, the mayor said people who had been reluctant to leave their homes also ran for cover when the sea rose and large waves began hitting the town.

Matthew was 35 miles (60 km) north of Haiti and 90 miles (145 km) south of the eastern tip of Cuba at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT). It was moving north at about 10 miles per hour (17 kph), the hurricane center said.

Cuba’s Communist government traditionally puts extensive efforts into saving lives and property in the face of storms, and authorities have spent days organizing teams of volunteers to move residents to safety and secure property.

The storm is expected to make a hit later on Tuesday in the province of Guantanamo, which is home to the disputed U.S. Naval base and military prison and also to a small Cuban city. The U.S. Navy ordered the evacuation of 700 spouses and children of service personnel as the storm approached.

Guantanamo’s mountainous terrain is the country’s second coffee producer after nearby Santiago, and the storm poses a major threat to the current harvest.

Haiti is due to hold a long-delayed presidential election on Oct. 9. The office of Interim President Jocelerme Privet said there was no change to the election date.

A hurricane watch was in effect from Deerfield Beach, Florida to the Volusia-Brevard county line, a coastal area near Cape Canaveral, which the storm could reach on Thursday, the hurricane center said.

“Direct hurricane impacts are possible in Florida,” the center said. It added that tropical storm or hurricane conditions could also affect parts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina later this week, even if the center of Matthew remained offshore.

Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Florida on Monday, designating resources for evacuations and shelters and putting the National Guard on standby.

(Reporting by Joseph Guyler Delva in Port-au-Prince and Makini Brice in Les Cayes; Additional reporting by Marc Frank and Sarah Marsh in Cuba and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Frances Kerry and Tom Brown)

Julia becomes tropical storm again as it mills off East Coast

Tropical Storm Julia is seen in an image from NOAA's GOES-East satellite

(Reuters) – Julia regained its designation as a tropical storm as it milled off the southeast coast of the United States on Friday, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

The center of the storm, which drenched parts of northeast Florida, Georgia and South Carolina earlier this week, was not threatening land as it moved east-southeast about 270 miles (435 km) southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, the Miama-based center said.

Tropical Storm Julia, carrying winds of 40 mph (65 kph) with higher gusts, was expected to cause rip currents and hazardous wave conditions along the southeastern coast through the weekend, the center said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Paul Tait)