Winter Storm Harper: Thousand of Flights Canceled, Hundreds of Crashes, 6 Dead
- The storm is responsible for at least 6 deaths.
- Thousands of flights have been canceled.
- The storm caused hundreds of crashes.
- Power was knocked out to tens of thousands of customers.
As Winter Storm Harper pushed into the Northeast Sunday, the storm left behind a trail of thousands of flight cancelations, hundreds of crashes and at least six people dead.
Power outages began stacking up Sunday, too, with more than 28,000 customers still without electricity in Connecticut and more than 12,800 in Virginia as of 4:45 p.m., according to PowerOutage.us.
In addition to ice and snow, several states were dealing with coastal flooding on Sunday.
A falling tree killed a utility subcontractor about 3:15 p.m. Sunday in Middletown, Connecticut, WVIT reported. Middletown Police said the Eversource subcontractor had finished repairing a line when the tree fell on him. His name was not released.
On Saturday, a Kansas Department of Transportation worker was killed in a rollover crash during snow removal operations on southbound U.S. 69 in Johnson County. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.
The driver was identified as 25-year-old Stephen Winder. He died after the rig he was driving rolled over around 6 a.m. local time. Winder was reportedly thrown from the vehicle, which then landed on top of him. The crash is under investigation.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported two deaths from weather-related crashes.
The storm had already claimed two lives in California earlier this week.
A United Airlines jetliner slid off the runway Saturday morning after landing at O’Hare International Airport, the Chicago Tribune reports. No one was injured when United Airlines flight 656 from Phoenix to Chicago rolled off the concrete surface into a grassy area.
On Friday, Southwest Airlines 1643 slid off the runway at Eppley Airfield after landing about 2:05 p.m. local time, according to the Omaha World-Herald. Freezing drizzle was falling at the time.
The airport, which closed for several hours because of the accident, tweeted: “There are no injuries and airport fire crews are working with Southwest to deplane the passengers and take them to the terminal.”
“It seemed like it would be OK, but then once we were slowing down to turn, you could feel them trying to get the brakes going and it was just too slick. So we ended up off the runway in the grass,” Ali Schwanke tweeted Friday.
More than 2,000 flights have been canceled as of Sunday afternoon, flightaware.com reports. Thousands of flights have also been delayed.
From about 6 p.m. Saturday until about 7:30 Sunday morning, Connecticut State Police responded to 72 crashes, some with minor injuries. Troopers assisted 133 motorist whose vehicles had spun out, gotten stuck or broke down.
Snow and sleet also was causing power outages in the state. More than 30,000 customers were without electricity as of 3 p.m., PowerOutage.us reported. There were a number of reports of trees falling over power lines.
The speed limit alongs parts of the Massachusetts Turnpike were reduced to 40 mph because of the weather, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced. The reduction was in effect from the New York border to Wilbraham and from Hopkinton to Weston.
Exit 14 on Interstate 93 in Boston was also closed because of tidal flooding.
A ban on tractor-trailers and buses on most highways in the state began at 3 p.m. ET Saturday.
“Safety is our number one priority and with the anticipated storm impacting most of New York State, we are implementing this ban on tractor trailers and buses so our plow operators, fire, law enforcement and emergency personnel can keep roads clean and respond to emergencies as quickly as possible,” Cuomo said. “I am also urging drivers to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.”
All train service into and out of Pittsburgh were halted Sunday morning after overhead power lines were frozen, the Port Authority of Allegheny County tweeted.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation temporarily reduced the speed limit to 45 mph on several highways in Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence counties because of the hard freeze early Sunday morning.
PennDOT also shut down commercial access to Interstates 70, 76 and 80 beginning at noon Saturday. The ban was lifted at 7 a.m. Sunday for several roadways. Bans remain on I-80 west of I-81, I-81 north of I-80, I-84, I-86, I-90, I-99, I-180 and I-380, PennDOT said.
“We want to be aggressive in managing this storm, during which snowfall rates could exceed one to two inches per hour,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said. “Our top concern is the safety of residents. If you do not have to travel during the storm, please avoid it. Please heed warnings from emergency responders and personnel, and remember to check on your neighbors, especially the elderly.”
At least five Ohio counties instituted Level 3 snow emergencies on Saturday, WKYC reported. Roadways were closed to all non-emergency travel in Erie, Huron, Sandusky, Ottawa and Crawford counties. Lorain, Summit, Medina, Wayne, and Ashland counties were at Level 2 which meant that only people who thought it was necessary to drive should be on the roads.
U.S. 24 was closed near Napoleon, Ohio after a big rig slid off the road and blocked lanes.
At one point Sunday morning, more than 13,000 Ohio customers were without power, according to poweroutage.us.
In Indiana, a jackknifed tractor-trailer was blocking southbound lanes Saturday afternoon on Interstate 65, south mile marker 231. Crews began removing abandoned commercial vehicles from the interstate on Sunday morning.
The storm caused travel woes across the Plains on Friday as it pushed toward the Midwest.
A 15-vehicle pileup on Interstate 55 near Thayer, Missouri, which temporarily closed a section of the interstate in the southeastern side of the state.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported 1608 calls for service, 575 stranded motorists, 285 crashes and 43 injuries in addition to the two fatalities.
Michael J. Fox, 48, of Sunrise Beach, Missouri, died when his Polaris off-road vehicle ran off the road and rolled over at 12:40 a.m. Saturday on Route F, south of Sunrise Beach, the Highway Patrol reported.
James Haase, 30, of Reeds Spring, Missouri, was killed when he lost control of his Honda Accord on a snow-covered Route OO near Kimberling City and it slid into the path of an oncoming pickup truck shortly before noon Saturday, according to the Highway Patrol.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation said Saturday at least five snowplows had been hit by passing vehicles in the past 24 hours.
A jackknifed semitrailer truck shut down part of Interstate 35 in Minnesota on Friday afternoon from the Clarks Grove exit to near Albert Lea, the Albert Lea Tribune reported. It was one of a number of crashes affecting traffic on I-35 and Interstate 90.
The Kansas Highway Patrol said there were several crashes and vehicles sliding off the road on Interstate 70 in Geary and Riley counties. The interstate was partially blocked near mile marker 316.
No injuries were reported after a vehicle collided with a snowplow Friday on a South Dakota road.
“Early this morning a driver tried to pass a snow plow and collided with the wing blade in a white out,” the South Dakota Highway Patrol tweeted Friday. “Now we have 1 less (snowplow) to clear the road. Poor driving decisions affect us all!”
Friday afternoon, a second snowplow was hit by a car. No injuries were reported in that crash.
In Nebraska, numerous spin outs were reported on I-29 outside Omaha, including three tractor-trailers that slid into ditches.
Amtrak announced Friday that it would be modifying its service in the Midwest and Northeast because of the storm.
On Sunday, five Acela trains and six Northeast Regional trains are canceled between New York and Boston. Six Keystone trains will not operate between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Two Pennsylvanian trains between New York and Pittsburgh are canceled. Two Vermonter trains on Sunday will not operate between St. Albans, Vermont, and New Haven, Connecticut, the Associated Press reports.
Service between New York and Washington will run as scheduled.