More than 600,000 homes and businesses were without power across the northeast Wednesday as a wall of hurricane-force winds and heavy rains hammered the region.
The storm, categorized as a nor'easter for the northeasterly winds blasting along the coast, was forecast to complete a counterclockwise loop Wednesday night, extending adverse conditions in New England and Long Island, New York, AccuWeather predicted.
Forecasters said the storm had undergone a period of rapid intensification known as bombogenesis – when the central pressure of a storm drops by 0.71 of an inch of mercury or more over a 24-hour period to become a "bomb cyclone."
Two similar storms that formed in the Pacific Ocean within the last week were blamed for torrential rains, high winds and mudslides across much of California. Remnants of those storms touched off tornadoes and severe weather in Missouri and was fueling the East's weather chaos.
More than 500,000 power customers in Massachusetts and 5,000 in Rhode Island were in the dark Wednesday. Another 40,000 were without power in New York, Connecticut and Maine, according to the website poweroutage.us.
"Dangerous situation early this morning," the National Weather Service tweeted Wednesday. "Winds gusting over Hurricane Force across southeast MA. Numerous downed trees and over 400K power outages in MA alone. TRAVEL IS NOT RECOMMENDED."
What is a nor'easter? What qualifies as a nor'easter, the storm slashing through the East Coast?
Wind gusts approaching 90 mph were recorded on Martha's Vineyard. Scituate, 30 miles southeast of Boston, had a gust of 84 mph.
In Connecticut, power lines came down on a school bus headed to Middletown High School on Wednesday morning. No injuries were reported. In New York, the body of kayaker Laurence Broderick, 45, who went missing off Long Island was recovered Tuesday near the Bronx after being spotted in the water by a helicopter search crew, Coast Guard officials said.
The weather system was not a surprise. The governors of New York and New Jersey had issued emergency declarations on Monday as the storm rolled toward those states. In New Jersey, the towns of Park Ridge and North Caldwell each recorded more than 5 inches of rain. New York City was recovering from downpours that soaked Brooklyn with more than 4 inches of rain and Manhattan with more than 3 inches.
Authorities in the city warily monitored flash flooding reports. Rushing waters from Hurricane Ida killed 11 people in basement apartments last month. But Wednesday saw wind as the primary culprit.
"Hold onto your hats this morning, especially along the coast!" the weather service in New York City tweeted. "While the rain has ended, winds remain blustery as our coastal low departs to the northeast."
Contributing: The Associated Press
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nor'easter power outages: Northeast sees hurricane-force winds