Whiteout, then blackouts as frigid Northeast digs out of snowstorm

Posted at 7:23 AM, Feb 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-07 09:23:01-05

By Faith Karimi and Margaret Conley

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) — First came the whiteouts, then the blackouts.

Utility companies scrambled Friday to restore power to the Northeast as hundreds of thousands shivered.

A powerful snowstorm had moved Wednesday from the Midwest, arriving Thursday in the Northeast. It whacked a string of states along the way, dumping 13 inches of snow on Kansas, more than 10 inches on parts of Massachusetts and 4 inches on New York.

In some areas, ice snapped tree limbs and downed power lines, causing massive blackouts.

In Philadelphia alone, electric provider PECO said early Friday that 319,000 homes and businesses were without power. In Pennsylvania’s Chester County, some traffic lights were powered by portable generators, CNN affiliate KFW reported.

The vast majority of those who lost their power should see it restored Friday, though some may have to wait until Sunday, company spokeswoman Debbie Yemenijian said.

Utility crews from Arkansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Canada joined PECO’s workers to fix the damage, the company said.

In all, more than 1,500 workers were in the field, it said.

In the Baltimore area, about 19,000 homes and businesses remained without power early Friday, utility Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said on its website.

Tens of thousands more were without power elsewhere in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with a handful of outages remaining in Ohio as well.

The wet, heavy snow may have pleased children who got a snow day, but some grownups were not applauding.

“Harder to push, not as easy actually to plow,” said Boston snowplow driver Nick Sfravara. “It’s definitely a challenge to get this stuff out of the way rather than the light stuff.”

Another system is forecast to bring snow to the region this weekend, but it’s not expected to produce as many problems, CNN meteorologists said.

On the West Coast, much-needed rain and snow should continue through the weekend.

In Washington State, one person was killed and several others injured in a 28-car crash on Interstate 5 in Washington state after a new winter storm blew in off the Pacific, CNN affiliate KPTV reported.

Portland, Oregon, got 3.8 inches of snow on Thursday, the fifth-greatest February snowfall since 1940. Thursday was also the coldest day in February since 1989, with a high of 23 degrees.

A second round of snow is expected to fall Friday afternoon, according to KPTV.

San Francisco received nearly three quarters of an inch of rain on Thursday. Another several inches are expected in the inland valleys and 8 to 10 inches in the coastal mountains through the weekend, bringing the possibility of flooding.

Snow showers from the Midwest to the Northeast were expected to drop 2 to 4 inches of snow from the Midwest to the Northeast over the weekend.

Cold air will hang on through the weekend, with highs 10 to 20 degreess below average. Another round of cold is expected to move Sunday into the Upper Midwest, with highs predicted at 30 degrees below average.

CNN’s Faith Karimi reported and wrote from Atlanta, and Margaret Conley reported from Philadelphia. CNN’s Rick Martin, Monica Garrett, Michael Pearson and Tom Watkins contributed to this report.

™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.