Weather News

US ice storm knocks out power

Saturday December 13, 2008 - 11:00 EDT

An ice storm across the north-eastern United States has caused power outages for hundreds of thousands of people and forced a government shut-down in Maine.

"The whole north-east of the United States is suffering," Jeff Tilghman at Northeast Utilities, a power company serving the region, said.

"The rain and the ice caused the problem. Ice is problematic because it stays on the branches and they come down breaking the power lines."

Maine closed all government offices in response to the storm, which combined rain and freezing spells.

In New Hampshire, Governor John Lynch declared a state of emergency, committing all resources to fighting storm damage.

"This storm has caused power outages for more than 200,000 people and dangerous driving conditions, particularly in the southern part of the state," Mr Lynch's website said.

Ice was reported to be bringing down trees and power lines across the state.

New York state, which extends far north and west of the city of New York, also saw thousands of people left without power, the state emergency management office said.

"Mother Nature dealt New York State a crippling blow yesterday and overnight," Governor David Paterson said.

"Portions of upstate New York endured a major winter storm ... leaving nearly 300,000 New Yorkers currently without power," he said, adding that "the outages may last a few days".

The emergency agency's director, John Gibb, warned residents to keep away from potentially lethal fallen power lines.

He also advised against using candles at houses deprived of power, because of the added fire hazard.

"If you must travel, use extreme caution. Intersections with dark traffic control signals are to be treated as an all-way stop," he warned.

Mr Tilghman said that in Connecticut there had been 16,700 customers without power, but that this had now been reduced to 6,500.



© AFP 2008

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