Gusting Winds, Heavy Rain Batter Northeast

NEWARK, N.J., March 14 (UPI) — Heavy rains and winds exceeding 70 mph in the U.S. Northeast knocked out power to 500,000 people and left at least three people dead, authorities said.

Officials in West Virginia blamed flooding for one death and police in Teaneck, N.J., said two people were killed when gusty winds caused a tree to fall on them Saturday night, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported.

Winds and rain also toppled a crane in Atlantic City, N.J., led to the shutdown of parts of the New Jersey Turnpike and caused several houses to collapse in the state, the Star-Ledger said.

The National Weather Service said the storm has caused flooding and travel delays, and dumped as much as 4 inches of rain since Saturday in an area of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic stretching from West Virginia to Connecticut. With up to 3 inches expected in some areas Sunday, the weather service extended storm and flood warnings.

CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras said the high winds have died down but the region is still threatened by heavy rain and flooding, and further travel delays.

“This storm is such a slow mover that it’s not going to pull out probably until Monday,” Jeras said.

The power outages hit hardest in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. About 100,000 customers in New Jersey and about 30,000 in Pennsylvania had their electrical service restored Sunday, authorities said.

Wind gusts fanned a fire that destroyed historic homes on the Jersey Shore and knocked down other buildings, The New York Times reported.

The storm prompted Amtrak to suspend service between New York and Philadelphia, while New Jersey Transit stopped running trains on several lines.

Forecasters predicted the storm would move to central New England Sunday before heading out to sea Monday.

Flooding persisted in the U.S. Midwest Sunday, the result of melting snow, rains and ice jams, CNN said. In North Dakota, authorities said the Red River is expected to reach major flood stage Tuesday near Fargo and Moorhead.

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