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Northeast braces for fierce storms, possible 'derecho' forecast

July 26, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • A shelf cloud on the leading edge of the derecho is seen in June in LaPorte, Ind. Another derecho is expected to hit the Northeast.
A shelf cloud on the leading edge of the derecho is seen in June in LaPorte,… (NOAA )

The northeastern United States, especially the New York metropolitan area, braced for hazardous weather on Thursday as severe thunderstorms were forecast to roll through the region, creating a weather event similar to the “derecho” that rocked the Washington area last month.

There is “potential for a widespread damaging wind event/derecho” beginning Thursday afternoon across an area roughly from Ohio to Connecticut, according to the U.S. Storm Predication Center in Oklahoma. About 32 million people live in the region, which includes most of the New York metropolitan area.

In a posting on its website, the National Weather Service warned of a “moderate risk for severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. Damaging winds and heavy rainfall are the main threats. Large hail is possible as well. An isolated tornado cannot be ruled out.”

The expected fierce weather led to warnings from officials to check buildings to make sure they can deal with high winds. Officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, canceled routine events to be on alert for possible action because of the storm.

In a statement e-mailed to reporters, Cuomo warned of the possibility of widespread power outages.

“Proper precautions undertaken now can help ensure that the strong winds and heavy rain cause as little damage as possible and that families and individuals are kept safe from harm,” he said.

Derechos are defined as weather events carrying wind gusts of at least 58 mph across a swath of at least 240 miles, according to the storm center.

Last month, a derecho knocked out electricity to at least 4.3 million people from New Jersey to North Carolina. It carried winds gusting to more than 90 mph. Twenty-four deaths were blamed on the storm.

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