5 dead, nearly 500 000 without power as severe thunderstorms hit US Northeast

At least 5 people have been killed and nearly 500 000 homes are without power after severe thunderstorms swept through the US Northeast on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. An unsettled wet pattern continues over the eastern US through the end of the week, with flash flooding and strong thunderstorms possible over southern New England and the Mid-Atlantic today.

The storms downed trees and power lines and produced dangerous lightning strikes that led to structure fires in New Jersey and Massachusetts. Baseball-sized hail was also reported in upstate New York.

At the peak of the storm, 496 777 customers in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut had lost electricity and the number declined to 359 534 by 06:00 local time Wednesday, May 16.

Five people have reportedly lost their lives, all of them from trees falling on vehicles. The casualties include a 11-year-old girl who died in Newburgh, New York after a tree hit a car she was in with her mother.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Putnam, Dutchess, Orange and Sullivan counties and tweeted that he was “deploying members of the New York National Guard to assist with recovery operations.”

The National Weather Service had received more than 100 severe storm reports shortly after 18:00 local time, including reports of baseball-size hail and wind gusts up to 129 km/h (80 mph).

All of the Metro North lines have been suspended due to downed trees, leading to a frenzy at Grand Central Station in New York City during rush hour on Tuesday. Thousands of people were stranded at the station, ABC New York station WABC reported.

Conditions were so bad in Newburgh that the city decided to close all roads due to the damage to trees and electrical infrastructure.

Featured image credit: Alejandro Martinez

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