Hundreds Stranded as Storm Sweeps Through New York Region
Posted May 15, 2018 8:50 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK — Hundreds of commuters found themselves stranded amid a chaotic scene at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon as a conveyor belt of strong thunderstorms accompanied by gusty winds rolled through the New York region, snarling train service, downing trees and leaving thousands of residents without power.
Around 5:30 p.m. Eastern time, the Metro-North Commuter Railroad announced on Twitter that service on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines had been suspended and advised travelers to avoid the terminal.
About an hour later, officials said that service on the Hudson Line had resumed between Grand Central and Croton-Harmon with delays of up to 60 minutes; (Hudson Line Service between Croton-Harmon and Poughkeepsie remained suspended.) New Haven Line service had also resumed with limited service and similarly long delays.
By about 7:40 p.m., officials said Harlem Line service had resumed with limited service between Grand Central Terminal and White Plains and “very limited” service between White Plains and Mount Kisco. They noted that service north of Mount Kisco was still suspended.
About 20 minutes later, they added that Danbury Branch service was experiencing delays of up to 75 minutes because of downed trees.
New Jersey Transit was not faring any better.
Officials announced on Twitter that the bad weather had strewn debris — such as trees — on the tracks and that, as a result, several lines were affected.
Montclair Boonton Line train service was temporarily suspended in both directions; train service in and out of Hoboken Terminal Station was subject to an hourlong delays; and River Line service was suspended in both directions between the Walter Rand Transportation Center and the Waterfront Entertainment Complex because of flooding.
Bus service to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal was also subject to delays.
Around 6:30 p.m. Metro-North officials announced that Grand Central Terminal could be entered only at 42nd Street. About a half-hour later, it was still full of commuters, but none were moving. They stood cheek to jowl packed around the central clock underneath the vaulted ceiling on its constellation. No one went anywhere.
Instead, many people stood taking selfies to document the surreal scene. Every so often a happy announcement punctured the monotony: A train was up and running — and people responded by threading through the crowd toward their track at a brisk pace.
Bad weather was to blame for the delays. Meteorologists said a line of thunderstorms between 4 and 6 p.m. produced widespread wind damage from upstate New York through the metro area, and across Long Island and Connecticut. The storms were accompanied by wind gusts of 50-60 mph, which knocked out power for thousands of customers.
“Very few areas were left unscathed,” Bill Goodman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Tuesday evening.
Goodman said there had been reports of wind ripping off the top of a water tower in Upper Manhattan and the roof off a hotel in Newburgh, New York, a costal town about two hours north of New York.
There also were reports Tuesday afternoon of baseball-size hail in northeastern Pennsylvania and in Clermont, New York, said Bob Henson, a meteorologist at Weather Underground. Both areas are about three hours from New York City.
By about 7 p.m., however, storms had moved southeast of the New York region, said Jack Boston, a meteorologist with AccuWeather. Although rain would linger, he said, the threat of severe weather was over.