Worst storms over in East, South but more coming
Published 12:00 am Monday, June 3, 2013
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The remnants of a violent storm that claimed 13 lives in Oklahoma sent punishing winds and torrential downpours to northern New England and a tornado to South Carolina. And there could be more coming, though meteorologists say the worst is over.
The National Weather Service said the work week could begin with storms bringing showers to the Northeast and mid-Atlantic and large hail and high winds to the Great Plains.
But it won’t be like Sunday, when storms flattened trees and utility poles in parts of northern New England, delayed flights in New York City and caused a tornado to touch down in South Carolina.
The weather service issued a rare tornado warning as a line of thunderstorms raced through New Hampshire into western Maine. It said a tornado warning was issued as radar indicated a possible tornado moving from Kingfield, Maine, to Bingham, Maine. The tornado was not immediately confirmed.
By early Monday, nearly 12,000 customers were still without power in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, down from more than 40,000 outages at the peak.
Weather service meteorologist Bill Goodman said a slow-moving cold front across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic could bring more rain on Monday. “We could get repeat showers over the same areas. It’s a recipe for flooding,” he said.
In northwestern South Carolina, a tornado knocked a home off its foundation and blew part of the roof off, said Taylor Jones, director of emergency management for Anderson County. Some trees were blown down and there was heavy rain, but no widespread damage. No injuries were reported.
“It was an isolated incident,” Jones said.
The stormy weather in the New York City region shortened the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees game to 51/2 innings and produced backups at major airports. But by early Monday, delays were down to 15 minutes or less at airports on the East Coast.
Patrick Herb, 34, was traveling from Washington Dulles International Airport with his 1- and 3-year-olds to his home in Wisconsin, and had his departure time for a connecting flight in Detroit moved back three times. He described the mood at Dulles as “frustration and fatigue.”
In other parts of the South, thunderstorms, high winds and hail rolled through as part of a slow-moving cold front.
In Texas, the Coast Guard said its crews saved or helped rescue 17 people caught in storms along the Gulf Coast. Lt. Matthew J. Walter of Coast Guard Sector Houston/Galveston cited “the devastating effects of strong winds and heavy rains” as the reason for three separate boats capsizing.
Meanwhile, residents in Oklahoma cleaned up after the storms there killed 13 people, including three veteran storm chasers. Tim Samaras; his son, Paul Samaras; and Carl Young were killed Friday. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said the men were involved in tornado research.
Authorities said five children and two adults remained missing and aren’t expected to be found alive.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin toured damage in El Reno, about 30 miles from Oklahoma City. She said the death toll could rise as emergency workers continue searching flooded areas for missing residents.
The state Medical Examiner’s Office spokeswoman Amy Elliott said the death toll had risen to 13 from Friday’s EF3 tornado, which charged down a clogged Interstate 40 in the western suburbs. Among the dead were two children — an infant sucked out of the car with its mother and a 4-year-old boy who along with his family had sought shelter in a drainage ditch.
In Arkansas, five people died in flash flooding late Thursday and early Friday in the rugged Ouachita Mountains near Y City, 125 miles west of Little Rock, authorities said Monday.
In Missouri, areas west of St. Louis received significant damage from an EF3 tornado Friday that packed estimated winds of 150 mph. In St. Charles County, at least 71 homes were heavily damaged and 100 had slight to moderate damage, county spokeswoman Colene McEntee said.
Northeast of St. Louis, the town of Roxana, Ill., also saw damage from an EF3 tornado. Weather service meteorologist Jayson Gosselin said it wasn’t clear whether the damage in Missouri and Illinois came from the same twister or separate ones.
Five tornadoes struck the Oklahoma City metro area on Friday, the weather service said. Fallin said Sunday that 115 people were injured.
The storms formed out on the prairie west of Oklahoma City, giving residents plenty of advance notice. When told to seek shelter, many ventured out and snarled traffic across the metro area — perhaps remembering when a tornado hit Moore on May 20 and killed 24 people.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said roadways quickly became congested with the convergence of rush-hour traffic and fleeing residents.
“They had no place to go, and that’s always a bad thing. They were essentially targets just waiting for a tornado to touch down,” Randolph said. “I’m not sure why people do that sort of stuff, but it is very dangerous.”