Eastern US heat, power outages continue

2012-07-03 09:09


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Relentless heat gripped much of the eastern United States for a fourth straight day on Monday, with nearly 2 million homes and businesses without power after violent storms and soaring temperatures killed at least 18 people.

Power companies warned it could take several days to restore electricity completely in some areas as much of the United States sweltered in a heat wave. On Sunday, 288 temperature records were set nationwide.

"Above-normal temperatures will continue to affect a large portion of the country from the northern Plains to the Mid-Atlantic over the next few days," the National Weather Service said.

Severe thunderstorms, strong winds and hail ripped down trees and power lines in northern Minnesota, knocking out the phone system in the city of Bemidji and soaking Duluth, authorities said.

"It's quite a big wind event," said Dave Kellenbenz of the National Weather Service in nearby Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Storms also struck in southern Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, the weather agency said.

Unscheduled leave

Many areas will see temperatures from 32° to more than 37.7°, it said in a statement. Excessive heat warnings and advisories remained over much of the mid-Mississippi Valley and southern states.

Emergencies were declared in Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington because of damage from a rare "super derecho" storm packing hurricane-force winds across a 1 100km stretch from the Midwest to the Atlantic Ocean.

Nearly 2 million homes and businesses from Illinois to New Jersey were still without power, with the biggest concentration in the Washington area.

With power lines down across the region, the US government told federal workers in the Washington area they could take unscheduled leave or work from home on Monday and Tuesday.

Two of the largest property insurers, USAA and Nationwide, said they had received more than 12 000 claims in total from the weekend storms. Most were for house damage.

The storms capped a costly June for insurers, which were already facing losses of at least $1bn from a hailstorm that ripped through Dallas.

Damage to grid

Thunderstorms and high winds battered eastern North Carolina on Sunday afternoon, causing three more deaths on top of at least 15 from deadly storms and heat in several states.

About 93 000 customers in northeastern Illinois of Commonwealth Edison, a unit of Exelon Corporation, were without power from the storms that brought wind gusts of up to 145km/h.

Utilities in Ohio, Virginia and Maryland described damage to their power grids as catastrophic.

FirstEnergy utilities in states from Ohio to West Virginia had about 194 400 customers without power.

Pepco, which serves Washington and much of its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, reported about 201 900 customers without power.

Baltimore Gas & Electric said about 213 000 customers remained affected. Almost 1 200 utility workers from 12 states and Canada are helping restore power or are on their way to central Maryland, the company said.

Heat-related deaths

Storms killed six people in Virginia and left more than 1 million customers without power. Two people were killed in Maryland, officials said.

A falling tree killed two cousins, aged 2 and 7, in New Jersey. Heat was blamed for the deaths of two brothers, ages 3 and 5, in Tennessee who had been playing outside in temperatures reaching 41°.

St Louis reported three heat-related deaths over the weekend. All were elderly and had air conditioners not in use.

Meanwhile, soybean and corn crops in the US Midwest are expected to get hit hard by the unrelenting heat and dryness. Corn, which is entering its critical pollination or reproductive stage of development, is seen as especially vulnerable.

"We're still looking at a scenario providing below-average rainfall for at least the next 10 days," said agricultural meteorologist John Dee of Global Weather Monitoring.

AccuWeather, a weather forecaster, said the "super derecho" storm that caused the widespread damage had raced 1 260km from northern Indiana to the Atlantic coast in 12 hours.

A derecho - Spanish for "straight" - is a long-lasting wind storm that accompanies fast-moving thunderstorms or showers, AccuWeather said. The most powerful derechos are called "super derechos," described by AccuWeather as a "land hurricane".

Read more on:    us  |  weather

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.