Nor'easter packs a wallop

BY SUSAN KIM | Baltimore, MD | March 5, 2001

Dangerous coastal flooding, two feet of snow, and whipping winds were already plaguing residents Monday in

region stretching from Maine to New York. As a nor'easter intensified, residents in the northeast were warned to

stop traveling and to be on alert for damaging high tides Monday evening.

The nor'easter moved slower than originally expected but heavy snow was already falling late Monday and was expected to dump

precipitation until Tuesday. The worst blizzard conditions will appear Monday night, forecasters said, and residents could see two feet of

snow by the time the storm moves out.

Most schools stretching from Maine to New York were closed Monday, and thousands of flights were canceled at airports in New York,

Boston, and other metro areas.

New York City was under a winter storm warning Monday, and the city will see a foot of snow, forecasters predicted.

While one set of emergency crews will be trying to remove massive snowfall, other crews will be in charge of evacuating residents should

high tides along the northeast coastline become dangerous.

"Coastal flooding is our major concern," said Jim Van Dorgen, public information officer for New Hampshire emergency management.

"That, more than the actual amount of snowfall, has the potential to do the most damage."

The northeast is expecting high tides this evening. When those are coupled with 50 mph winds, that could make the tides "astronomical,"

said Van Dorgen.

The Long Island Area and surrounding areas in New York state are expecting tides that will rise two to four feet above normal, according

to forecasters.

"We are concerned about potential power outages today, and coastal flooding tomorrow and Wednesday," said Peter Judge, public

information officer for Massachusetts emergency management, adding that beach erosion was also on the minds of emergency managers.

When snowfall amounts are large, elderly people may be snowbound and need help shoveling, pointed out Joann Hale, a Church World

Service disaster resource facilitator for the region. That's where voluntary organizations and churches often step in to provide assistance.

Hale contacted her response network to put voluntary organizations on alert over the weekend.

Another oft-overlooked group in the midst of a nor'easter may be farmers. "Our farmers are already concerned about their livestock,

especially if there are power outages," said Hans Hollman, public information officer for New York emergency management. "They need

electricity to operate their milk pumps. Some of the larger ones have backup generators but some don't."

Throughout the northeast, people stocked up on snow shovels, salt, and food.

While some areas of the northeast were facing the huge storm, other states were breathing a sign of relief. The Washington, DC area

received only snow showers, and even Pennsylvania could get less than a foot by Tuesday night. "A nor'easter is the most dangerous of

winter storms that Pennsylvania faces," said John Comey, public information officer for Pennsylvania emergency management. "But so far,

the potential, while significant, has not been realized for this state."

Another storm that preceded Monday's nor'easter brought heavy rain and winds to the south.

In Florida, dozens of homes were damaged by two tornadoes and fallen trees as severe weather blew through the central portion of the

state Sunday. Two weak tornadoes touched down -- one west of Ocala and one in northeastern Ocala, according to the National Weather

Service. In Ocala and Martel, 40 houses and 63 mobile homes were damaged said Frank Worley, director of Marion County Division of

Emergency Management.

In Mississippi, rivers in the Jackson and Hattiesburg areas are "at their banks," said Amy Bissell, public information officer for Mississippi

emergency management. Runoff from nearly a week of rain has swollen rivers and caused flooding in low-lying areas. Areas at risk for

flooding are not the same as those stricken by tornadoes and severe storms recently, Bissell added.

Alabama and Georgia also saw heavy rains.

On the other side of the country, the West Coast was experiencing its own difficult weather. Santa Barbara and parts of Los Angeles were

at risk for flooding after heavy rains moved through that area Monday.

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