COLUMBUS: At least 250,000 homes and businesses in Ohio are without power and hundreds of schools are closed or delayed as Superstorm Sandy brings high winds, flooding and the season’s first snow to some parts of the state overnight.
The Cleveland area and Northeast Ohio were being slammed the hardest early Tuesday, with rain and high winds bringing down power lines and knocking out electricity to a wide swath of the area. Some major arteries in the city were closed because of flooding, and hundreds of school districts canceled classes. A section of Interstate 90 was closed because of flooding from nearby Lake Erie.
Akron-based FirstEnergy was reporting more than 246,000 customers without power in Northeast Ohio, mostly in the Cleveland area, at 7 a.m. Tuesday. That was down from about 260,000 at the peak. Utility officials say it could be five days before all customers have power restored.
The utility also reported other scattered outages across the northern section of the state and down into central Ohio. AEP Ohio reported around 7,000 interruptions in the Canton area and central Ohio.
Snow was reported in some parts of eastern Ohio and south of Cleveland. Snow and icy roads also were reported south of Columbus.
High wind warnings, with gusts of 55-60 mph, are in effect in many areas of the state into the afternoon. Cleveland residents were being warned to avoid unnecessary trips outside because of the potential for flooding and the danger of downed power lines.
Thousands of flights were canceled at the state’s airports.
The massive storm made landfall in New Jersey Monday night with 80 mph sustained winds, killing at least 16 people in seven states. It’s left more than 7.5 million without power.
Sandy lost its hurricane status on Monday and is now considered an extratropical cyclone. It was centered west of Philadelphia on Tuesday morning and was expected to move into western New York Tuesday night.