Gale-force winds downed trees and utility lines and knocked out power to more than 600,000 homes and businesses Thursday as a record-smashing "bomb cyclone" roared across the Northeast.
Wind gusts approaching 100 mph were reported in Massachusetts, where more than 200,000 utility customers were in the dark. Blame the bomb cyclone, aka "explosive cyclogenesis."
"It was a wild night with wind gusts up to 90 mph in Provincetown," the National Weather Service's Boston office tweeted. West Island was hit almost as hard, with a gust of 84 mph reported.
A bomb cyclone occurs when the barometric pressure falls at least 24 millibars, or 0.71 inches, within 24 hours. The faster and steeper the drop, known as bombogenesis, the more intense the storm.
"We did that and then some, that's for sure," AccuWeather meteorologist Bill Deger told USA TODAY. "In some areas we saw it drop 30 to 35 millibars in 12 hours."
Boston smashed its record low barometric pressure for October, reaching 975.3 millibars after falling 35 in 12 hours. Wind gusts reached 70 mph at Boston Logan International Airport, just short of hurricane status. Some areas of the state were drenched with up to 4 inches of rain in two hours.
The result: "You could say it was the strongest storm ever to impact the area in October," Deger said. "We had the rain, we had the wind, we had the coastal impact. We had it all."
On Cape Cod, schools were delayed or canceled and more than 38,000 Eversource power customers were in the dark. Traffic was at a standstill in some areas because of roads blocked by downed trees, poles and wires.
The storm's fury stretched far beyond Massachusetts. Some Amtrak trains across the Northeast corridor were delayed by the weather. In New York, high winds at La Guardia Airport on Thursday caused some arriving flights to be delayed an average of 1 hour and 47 minutes, the FAA said. And the Yankees-Astros baseball playoff game Wednesday night was canceled because of heavy rains and high winds.
In Maine, more than 200,000 power customers – a quarter of the state – were without power and the number was rising Thursday. Even without power, residents overwhelmed Central Maine Power's website.
"We appreciate your patience as our crews respond to outages – restoring power as quickly and safely as possible," the utility said on Twitter. "We are also working diligently to fix all technical website issues."
Connecticut and New Hampshire each reported about 40,000 outages, and scores of school districts canceled classes Thursday.
Most of Somers, Connecticut, was dark. Schools were closed and the town of less than 12,000 posted on social media a list of more than two dozen places where downed wires or trees were creating traffic havoc.
"Good morning – if you can call it that!" the town posted on its Facebook page.
In Chester County, Pennsylvania, three people died and eight were injured when a van crashed late Wednesday, state police said. The cause of the accident remains under investigation. However, AccuWeather meteorologists say rainy weather could be to blame.
“At the time of the crash, heavy rain was falling across the area and could have been a factor,” AccuWeather meteorologist Jake Sojda said.
Most of the rain was ending Thursday, but Deger warned that strong winds will persist across much of the region through the day. Some minor flooding was reported, but Deger said weeks with little or no rain eased what could have been a much worse situation.
"This was a welcome rain, even though it fell over the course of a few hours," he said. "And I guess they didn't want it blowing in at 70 mph."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Power outages: Northeast storm, bomb cyclone hit Boston, Maine