Hundreds of flights canceled as storm nears

Three hundred flights were canceled early Sunday as a hard-blowing nor'easter bore down on New York and threatened to deliver some of the worst flooding in coastal Long Island in 14 years.

Hundreds of flights canceled as storm nears

The cancellations at the area's three major airports affected most carriers, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. More cancellations were expected throughout the day.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer said some low-lying areas of Long Island may need to be evacuated, and he deployed 3,200 members of the National Guard to areas predicted to be in the storm's path.

Forecasters expected sustained winds of 40 mph and a storm-surge between 3 and 5 feet, a combination that could cause as much damage as a winter storm that wreaked havoc on the island in late 1992, Spitzer said.

A flood watch was posted for the New York City region, as the weather service forecast 2 to 4 inches of rain Sunday with wind gusting to 50 mph. Snow and sleet were possible inland, said weather service meteorologist John Koch in New York.

The weather system was forecast to strengthen Sunday when it reaches the East Coast and form a nor'easter, a storm that follows the coast northward, with northeasterly wind driving waves and heavy rain.

The Northeast braced for strong wind, heavy rain and unseasonable snow as the storm blew across the Plains.

"It is unusual for this time of year. We probably see a storm like this, at this time of year, probably once every 25 years or so," said Brian Korty, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Camp Springs, Maryland. (Watch the storm system spread damage across the country Video)

Path of destruction

The storm, which rattled the Gulf states Friday and Saturday with violent thunderstorms and raked Texas with at least two tornadoes, was blamed for five deaths.

A tornado Friday night tore roofs off houses and destroyed porches and garages in Haltom City, Texas. About a dozen tractor-trailer rigs were blown onto their sides.

A second tornado that night in Benbrook, southwest of Fort Worth, caused minor damage, according to the National Weather Service. More wind damage to power lines, trees and roofs was reported to the east in Dallas and Rockwall counties, but meteorologists had yet to confirm Saturday whether tornadoes formed there. (Watch huge hailstones pound Texas neighborhood Video)

One man was killed in Fort Worth by a pile of lumber that fell on him from his truck during Friday's storm, and a police officer in Irving died when his patrol car slid on wet pavement and struck a utility pole, authorities said. (Watch storm victim describe dirt, debris flying through house Video)

Three people were killed in Kansas in traffic accidents on highways covered with ice and slush, police said.

Snow stopped falling by Saturday afternoon in eastern Kansas, where some schools and businesses closed Friday as blowing snow created whiteout conditions. Up to 15 inches of snow fell in southwestern Kansas.

By Saturday afternoon, lines of strong thunderstorms had rolled across Louisiana and Mississippi into northern Alabama, and the National Weather Service posted tornado warnings for wide areas of Mississippi and some parts of Alabama.

In Pennsylvania, officials activated the state emergency operations center in anticipation of the storm. "While snowfall in April is highly unusual, it is critical to remain vigilant in executing winter weather preparedness plans," Gov. Ed Rendell said in a statement.

The National Weather Service said there could be as much as 20 inches of snow possible at higher elevations in the Adirondacks and several inches of rain in the Hudson Valley by the time the storm passes late Monday and Tuesday.

New Jersey was ready for whatever may fall -- snow or rain. About 250 trucks were ready to plow and spread salt on state highways if needed. The northwest corner of the state was expecting snow, while the rest of the state was bracing for possible flooding.

"We're ready for everything, which based upon the forecast, is pretty much what we could get," said Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

AP

Last Mod: 17 Nisan 2007, 16:11
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