High Winds Cut Power, Inundate Lake Erie Shoreline With Ice

BUFFALO, N.Y.—High winds howled through much of the eastern United States for a second day Feb. 25, cutting power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, closing schools, and pushing dramatic mounds 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. While atop Mount Washington, the Northeast’s highest peak of 6,288 feet in New Hampshire, a gust of 144 mph was recorded.

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A family walks near a massive build-up of ice that was pushed onto the shore of Mather Park in Fort Erie, Ont., on Feb 25, 2019. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press via AP)
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, right, joins Captain Brian MacLaren, left, on an ice-breaking mission aboard the New York Power Authority’s ice breaker William Latham on the Niagara River, to keep water intakes clear, in Niagara Falls, N.Y., on Feb. 25, 2019. (John Hickey/Buffalo News via AP, Pool)

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 died down by the end of Monday. Hundreds of schools were delayed or canceled in New York alone.

The wind peeled off roofs in places. In Syracuse, New York, scaffolding blown off a building knocked down power lines.

Wind advisories and warnings were in effect through Monday in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast up to northern New England. In Maine, police say a trucker blamed the wind for causing his tractor-trailer loaded with bananas to swerve and overturn on the Maine Turnpike. While in Sandusky, Ohio, a motorist captured video of a tractor-trailer flipping over on a bridge.

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A family walks near a massive build-up of ice that was pushed onto the shore of Mather Park in Fort Erie, Ont., on Feb. 25, 2019. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Mounds of ice collect along the Lake Erie shore at Hoover Beach, in Hamburg, N.Y., on Feb. 25, 2019. (Carolyn Thompson/AP Photo)

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 roiling onto the shore. High winds had raised water levels on the eastern end of Lake Erie in a phenomenon known as a seiche and then, according to the New York Power Authority, driven ice over a boom upstream from the river.

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

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A tree downed by strong winds lays across the front of a vehicle parked on Beech Ave. on the North Side of Pittsburgh, on Feb. 24, 2019. (Jessie Wardarski/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
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Drew Mitchell, an employee of Falling Timber Landscaping of Saxonburg, Pa., removed branches from a tree the fell on the roof of the home of Joe and Alise Zylinski, in Natrona Heights, Pa. Mr. Zylinski on Feb. 24, 2019. (Nate Guidry/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

“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 for 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.