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New England braces for major spring snowstorm as severe weather continues to sock US


TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — A major spring storm was expected to drop more than a foot of snow in parts of New England on Wednesday, while heavy rains were likely to soak the East Coast and cleanup work continued in several states wracked by tornadoes and other severe weather blamed for at least one death.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for several states in New England, where 7 to 18 inches (18 to 46 centimeters) of snow were expected with some local amounts of 24 inches (60.96 centimeters) including higher elevations. Parts of New Hampshire and Maine were expected to see the highest amounts.

A mix of rain and snow was due to start falling throughout the region, with wet and heavy snow expected by evening and through Thursday in many areas. Extensive power outages were possible.

Maine officials warned the storm was expected to cause difficult travel conditions, power outages and minor coastal flooding.

“Travel is discouraged during this storm due to unfavorable driving conditions,” Pete Rogers, director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency, said in a statement. “Folks need to be prepared at home for the possibility of an extended power outage with emergency supplies, alternate power sources, and should charge their mobile devices in advance.”

In New Hampshire, the U.S. Forest Service issued an avalanche watch through Friday afternoon for parts of the White Mountains including Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast at 6,288 feet (1.92 kilometers). The service warned backcountry hikers and skiers of the possibility that 30 (76.2 centimeters) or more inches of snow in higher elevations could fall and create dangerous avalanche conditions. The watch does not apply to ski areas.

Meanwhile, wind gusts of up to 60 mph (about 97 kph) were expected in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, coastal Connecticut and parts of Vermont, where flood watches had been issued. Heavy rains and severe thunderstorms were also expected to impact the Mid-Atlantic states and Florida.

Forecasters said heavy, wet snow would persist across Wisconsin and Upper Michigan into Thursday.

The severe weather comes a day after thousands of homes and businesses were left without power after strong storms roared through several states across the nation.

Storms in northeastern Oklahoma on Tuesday unleashed three suspected tornadoes and dumped heavy rain that was blamed for the death of a 46-year-old homeless woman in Tulsa who was sheltering inside a drainage pipe.

In Kentucky, crews surveyed damage Wednesday and were cleaning up from storms that had produced at least four tornados, officials said.

Tornadoes touched down in Nelson, Anderson and Jessamine counties and the city of Prospect on Tuesday, according to the weather service.

At the peak of the storm, there were about 7,500 customers in Louisville without power, but that number was down to about 1,400 Wednesday and most were expected to be restored by day’s end, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said.

Five structures were also destroyed, 37 had major damage and 38 had minor damage, Anchorage Middletown Fire Chief Kevin Groody said. He said 22 residents reported minor injuries.

While observing some of the damage Tuesday night, Greenberg said it was heartening to see neighbors out helping others in need.

“In the dark of night, with power off in the entire neighborhood, neighbors and families coming together to help one another,” he said.

In Rockdale County, Georgia, crews planned to survey damage to determine whether a tornado touched down in the area during the overnight hours, according to the weather service.

“My living room has been impaled by a tree,” Carolyn Gillman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Gillman said she rode out the storm in her bathroom and then heard rain coming into her house east of Atlanta.

“I just knew that that big ‘whoosh’ that I heard, that big crash I heard was the tree coming through,” Gillman told the newspaper. “I peeked down my hallway, and sure enough, half my house is under a tree.”

In West Virginia, more than 103,000 homes and businesses remained without power on Wednesday, mostly in the southern part of the state, according to poweroutage.us. Some Appalachian Power customers may not get their service back until Thursday night, the utility said.

Schools were closed in eight of West Virginia’s 55 counties Wednesday and a state of emergency declared Tuesday by Gov. Jim Justice remained in place for several counties. Moderate flooding was forecast on the Ohio River, which was expected to crest nearly 6 feet (1.8 meters) above flood stage on Thursday at Wheeling.

In Crisp County, Georgia, roads were closed as emergency workers assessed damage to multiple homes and buildings after a storm early Wednesday morning, authorities said.

Photos shared by the sheriff’s office showed large trees atop one home and power lines draped across yards and roads. Residents were advised to limit travel due to the damage and possible gas leaks.

“We’ve been in there all morning surveying the damage, trying to make sure everybody in the homes are OK,” Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said in an update on Facebook.

Crisp County is about 140 miles (225 kilometers) south of Atlanta.

Flooding was also a problem in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Between 2 and 3 1/2 inches (5.08 to 8.89 centimeters) of rain had fallen in western Pennsylvania since late Monday night, leading to flooding in all corners of the region. A flood warning was in effect for much of the region through Wednesday afternoon due to widespread risk of standing water on roadways, as well as rising creeks, streams and rivers. Several homeless encampments along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Pittsburgh were abandoned due to flooding concerns.

Several counties in northeastern Ohio saw minor to moderate flooding after three days of nearly continuous rain soaked the area. Flood watches and warnings remained in effect, though conditions were expected to improve by Wednesday night.


Associated Press writer Rebecca Reynolds contributed to this report from Louisville; Dave Collins contributed from Hartford, Conn., John Raby from Charleston, West Virginia; and Jeff Martin from Atlanta.