High Winds Cut Power, Menace Lake Erie Shorelines With Ice

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -
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A tree brought down by high winds protrudes from the roof of a home in Media, Pa., Monday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

High winds howled across much of the country’s eastern half for a second day Monday, cutting power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, closing schools, and pushing dramatic mountains of ice onto the shores of Lake Erie.

Wind gusts of hurricane force — 74 mph — or higher, were reported around the region, including West Virginia and New York. A motorist in Sandusky, Ohio, captured video of a tractor-trailer flipping over on a bridge.

Toppled trees and power poles, easy targets for strong winds that uprooted them from ground saturated by rain and snowmelt, plunged homes and businesses into darkness, though in most places power was expected back quickly as winds will die down by the end of Monday. Hundreds of schools were delayed or canceled in New York alone.

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Mounds of ice collect along the Lake Erie shore at Hoover Beach, in Hamburg, N.Y., Monday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)

Wind advisories and warnings were in effect through Monday in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast up to northern New England.

Giant chunks of ice spilled over the banks of the Niagara River across from Buffalo on Sunday, creating a jagged, frosty barrier between the river and a scenic road.

Dramatic footage captured by park police in Ontario showed the massive chunks tumbling atop one another. An ice boom in Lake Erie, which is upstream from the river, had broken amid high winds. The winds had raised water levels on the eastern end of the lake in a phenomenon known as a seiche.

Ice mounds 25 to 30 feet high also came ashore farther south, piling up on several lakefront properties in suburban Hamburg.

“We’ve had storms in the past, but nothing like this,” resident Dave Schultz told WGRZ. “We’ve never had the ice pushed up against the walls and right up onto our patios. … It’s in my patio, the neighbor’s patio, and the patio after that.”

A voluntary evacuation of the area was issued Sunday.

Empty tractor-trailers and empty tandem trucks have been banned on some highways. Trucks were also banned on some bridges in New York City, where the winds sent litter swirling in the canyons between skyscrapers and rocked sidewalk food carts precariously.

In New Jersey, about 48,500 customers were without power early Monday afternoon. But most of the affected customers are expected to have their service restored by Monday night at the latest. Across the state, winds were mostly expected to be between 25 to 45 mph, with gusts of up to 60 mph possible in some areas.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo provides a storm update in Cheektowaga, N.Y., Monday. (Mike Groll/Office of Gov. Cuomo)