winds

Severe Thunderstorms and High Winds Batter Northeast, Causing Power Outages and Crippling Commutes

Severe weather, including severe thunderstorms, high winds, and massive hail is hitting the Northeast and other parts of the U.S., causing power outages and travel delays for Monday night commuters. The stormy, wet weather is expected throughout the eastern part of the country over the next few days, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Currently, severe thunderstorm watches are in effect for southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, northeastern and central Maryland, northern Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and northern Virginia, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The NWS warned of flash flooding and other severe weather, as the strong thunderstorms are expected to continue throughout the week, including across the central part of the country.

But the storms have already wreaked havoc among travelers. Commuters waiting to board Metro North trains at Grand Central Terminal were left to crowd inside the train station after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority suspended service along the lines, following power outages.

AccuWeather reports that more than 500,000 people were left without power in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey on Tuesday afternoon.

The Weather Channel reports wind gusts can get as fast as 80 miles per hour, and that some tornadoes are expected. In parts of New York, including areas around the Catskill Mountains and mid-Hudson Valley, hail the size of baseballs thundered down, according to the Weather Channel.


TIME

California’s Winds and Wildfires Have Pushed the Alert System Into Uncharted Territory: Purple

(VENTURA, Calif.) — Southern California has felt yellow wind, orange wind, and red wind. But never purple wind. Until now.

The color-coded system showing the expected strength of the winds driving the region’s fierce wildfires has reached uncharted territory, pushing past red, which means “high” into the color that means “extreme.”

“The forecast for tomorrow is purple,” said Ken Pimlott, director at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “We’ve never used purple before.”

Southern California has already been hit hard by three major fires that have put tens of thousands of people under evacuation orders and destroyed at nearly 200 homes and buildings, a figure that is almost certain to grow.

But the hard-won progress of firefighters could be erased Thursday.

“We’re talking winds that can surface that can be 80 miles an hour,” Pimlott said. “These will be winds that there will no ability to fight fires.”

Such winds can instantly turn a tiny fire into a large one, or carry embers that spark new fires miles away.

Millions of cellphones buzzed loudly Tuesday night from San Diego to Santa Barbara with a sound that usually means an Amber Alert, but this time meant a rare weather warning for strong winds making extreme fire danger.

Officials hope the electronic push will keep the whole region alert and keep the death toll from the week’s fires at zero.

Melissa Rosenzweig, 47, was briefly back home Tuesday after evacuating from her Ventura house, which has been spared so far while most on her street had burned in the largest and most destructive of the region’s fires. She and her husband were about to evacuate again, hoping they will get lucky twice as the new winds arrive.

“Heck yeah I’m still worried,” Rosenzweig said. “We’re very grateful but I know we’re not out of the woods.”

In what may have been an early sign of the 140-square-mile fire getting new life, several thousand new evacuations were ordered late Tuesday night in Ojai, a town of artists and resorts. The blaze had been creeping there already, but an increase in winds pushed it close enough for many more to flee.

The wilder winds could easily send make new fires explode too, as one did Wednesday in Los Angeles’ exclusive Bel-Air section, where a fire consumed multimillion-dollar houses that give the rich and famous sweeping views of Los Angeles.

Little flame was visible by late Tuesday, but in the morning fire exploded on the steep slopes of Sepulveda Pass, closing a section of heavily traveled Interstate 405 and destroying four homes.

Flames burned a wine storage shed at media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s 16-acre (6.5-hectare) Moraga Vineyards estate and appeared to have damaged about 7 acres (2.8 hectares) of vines, a spokeswoman said.

Across the wide I-405 freeway from the fire, the Getty Center art complex was closed to protect its collection from smoke damage. Many schools across Los Angeles were closed because of poor air quality and classes were canceled at 265 schools Thursday.

Back in the beachside city of Ventura, the fire killed more than two dozen horses at a stable and had destroyed at least 150 structures, a number that was expected to get far bigger as firefighters are able to assess losses.

Air tankers that had been grounded much of the week because of high winds flew on Wednesday, dropping flame retardant. Firefighters rushed to attack the fires before winds picked up again.

“We’re basically in an urban firefight in Ventura, where if you can keep that house from burning, you might be able to slow the fire down,” said Tim Chavez, a fire behavior specialist at the blaze. “But that’s about it.”


TIME