Sunday, May 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Far-flung death, devastation


Full extent of subway damage still unknown

Floodwaters that poured into New York's deepest subway tunnels may pose the biggest obstacle to the city's recovery from the worst natural disaster in the transit system's 108-year history. Critical electrical equipment could be ruined. Track beds could be covered with debris. Corrosive salt water could have destroyed essential switches, lights, turnstiles and the power-conducting third rail. The head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it was too early to tell how long it would take to pump them dry and make repairs. Mayor Michael Bloomberg guessed it could take four days for train service to resume. And even then it was unclear how much of the nation's largest public transit system would be operational. Buses resumed operations Tuesday evening. Fares were being waived through today.

Queens neighborhood goes up in flames

A fire destroyed at least 111 homes and damaged 20 more in the flooded Breezy Point neighborhood in Queens. Chest-high water in the streets prevented firefighters from reaching the blaze, a Fire Department spokesman said, and they had to use a boat to make rescues. The mayor, who toured the area Tuesday afternoon, said the neighborhood was devastated. "To describe it as looking like pictures we have seen at the end of World War II is not overstating it," Bloomberg said.


Fast-rising waters trap Moonachie residents

In Moonachie, N.J., water rose to 5 feet within 45 minutes and trapped residents who thought the worst of the storm had passed. Mobile-home park resident Juan Allen said water overflowed a 2-foot wall along a nearby creek, filling the area with 2 to 3 feet of water within 15 minutes. "I saw trees not just knocked down but ripped right out of the ground," he said. "I watched a tree crush a guy's house like a wet sponge."

Atlantic City sees damage in some areas

Those who decided to stay in Atlantic City against stringent warnings from Gov. Chris Christie awoke Tuesday to find that Monday night's extensive flooding had mostly receded — and that many neighborhoods on higher ground had suffered minimal damage. But in the city's low-lying areas, the water that had crept up curbs, flooded basements and forced evacuees out of emergency shelters left extensive damage. An older, damaged section of the Boardwalk collapsed amid heavy rain and high winds, blocking streets and, in one instance, slamming straight into a woman's garage. The dozen Atlantic City casinos, shuttered since Sunday, sustained little physical damage, but it could take another day or two to reopen them because of infrastructure damage in and around them, said the head of the Casino Association of New Jersey. "No decision has yet been made since there is still a state of emergency, a state evacuation order and a curfew in place," Tony Rodio, president of the association, said.


Airports reopening; travel is still tricky

Sandy grounded more than 18,000 flights across the Northeast and the globe, and it will take days before travel gets back to normal. According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, more than 7,000 flights were canceled on Tuesday alone. Delays rippled across the United States. Some passengers attempting to fly out of Europe and Asia also were stuck. Authorities closed the three big New York airports because of the storm. New York has the nation's busiest airspace, so cancellations there can dramatically affect travel in other cities. It was possible that John F. Kennedy airport would re-open for flights today, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It wasn't known when the LaGuardia and Newark, N.J. airports would reopen.

Thousands awaiting chance to leave TIA

Tampa International Airport has had a slow week. Over the course of two days more than 200 flights scheduled to arrive in or depart from Tampa Bay have been cancelled. Thousands of passengers have been stuck for days. Some have been attempting to navigate their way home by flying into unaffected cities on standby, but most have holed up in the area to wait out the storm, TIA spokeswoman Christine Osborn said. Nearly 60 area hotels have issued discounted rates for any visitors affected by the storm, according to Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the tourism agency for Pinellas County.

Amtrack is slowly restoring train service

Amtrak says it will resume some service in the Northeast today, but flooded train tunnels continue to prevent service to and from New York's Penn Station. Modified service between Newark, N.J., and points south will resume today. That includes restoring Virginia service to Lynchburg, Richmond and Newport News, Keystone trains in Pennsylvania and Downeaster service between Boston and Portland, Maine. However, Amtrak said in a statement that the amount of water in train tunnels under the Hudson and East rivers is unprecedented, preventing service to New York.


Dangling crane looks to be stable for now

A strong gust of wind likely was a major factor in damaging a giant construction crane at a luxury Manhattan high-rise, city officials said Tuesday. The rig's arm dangled precariously and forced evacuations in the thick of the storm. The city says officials have concluded the hanging arm is stable for now. Some neighboring buildings have been evacuated, including a hotel with 900 guests.

FEMA on the scene with billions in aid

Tuesday morning President Barack Obama had declared parts of New York and New Jersey major disaster areas, which opens the door for billions of dollars in aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Craig Fugate, the FEMA director, said FEMA had about $3.6 billion in its disaster relief fund, but that he was prepared to request additional money from Congress if needed. Other states hit by Sandy will almost certainly be added to the major disaster designation in the coming days, making residents there also eligible for emergency assistance.


Property damages expected to top $20B

Sandy will end up causing about $20 billion in property damages and $10 billion to $30 billion more in lost business, according to IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm. In the long run, the devastation the storm inflicted will barely nick the U.S. economy. That's the view of economists who say a slightly slower economy in coming weeks will likely be matched by reconstruction and repairs that will contribute to growth over time. Insured losses from the storm will likely total $5 billion to $10 billion, the forecasting firm Eqecat estimates. Economists expect actual property damages from Sandy to exceed those caused last year by Hurricane Irene, which cost $15.8 billion. Sandy will likely be among the 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history. It would still be far below the worst — Hurricane Katrina, which cost $108 billion in 2005.

Stock exchange will reopen this morning

The New York Stock Exchange will open at 9:30 a.m. today, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, and the trading floor facility was not damaged in the storm.

Gasoline prices fall slightly; demand cut

The price of gasoline fell Tuesday after Hurricane Sandy left a wide swath of flooding, power outages and disrupted transportation in the eastern United States. The national average for a gallon of regular fell by about a penny, to $3.53. That's more than 11 cents lower than a week ago. Gasoline futures fell 3 cents to end at $2.73 a gallon. With many roads impassable, drivers won't be driving as much, reducing demand for gasoline.


Restoring power could take days or weeks

More than 8.2 million households were without power in 17 states as far west as Michigan. Nearly 2 million of those were in New York, where large swaths of lower Manhattan lost electricity and entire streets ended up under water. Hurricane Sandy was the "worst storm in our history," said Kevin Burke, the chief executive of Consolidated Edison. For the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Westchester County, with 442,000 outages, restoration of power could take a week, Con Ed said. Floodwater led to explosions that disabled a power substation on Monday night, contributing to the outages.

More cell towers could fail as fuel runs out

Sandy knocked out a quarter of the cell towers in an area spreading across 10 states, and the situation could get worse, federal regulators said Tuesday. Many cell towers that are still working are doing so with the help of generators and could run out of fuel before commercial power is restored, the Federal Communications Commission said.

Storm shuts down three nuke reactors

Three commercial nuclear power reactors remained shut Tuesday in the aftermath of Sandy while another plant — the nation's oldest — was still on alert. Nine Mile Point Unit 1 reactor on Lake Ontario, northwest of Syracuse, N.Y., shut down automatically about 9 p.m. Monday when an electrical fault occurred on a power line used to send electricity from the plant to the grid, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The second reactor at the site lost one of its incoming power lines, causing a backup generator to start. Another reactor, Indian Point's Unit 3, was shut down Monday because of external electrical grid issues, said Entergy Corp., which operates the plant.


Sandy's remains head for Canada today

Forecasters said Tuesday that they no longer expected the storm to turn to the northeast and travel across New England. Instead, the track shifted well to the west, and prediction models suggested a path through central Pennsylvania and western New York state before entering southern Ontario by today, said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center.

Surf's up in Chicago as Lake Michigan roils

Avid surfers in Chicago are taking advantage of near-record waves in the cold, churning waters of Lake Michigan. Hundreds of miles from its turbulent center, Sandy's outer bands were violent enough to rip up the waves of 20 feet.

Sandy dumps snow across the mountains

Lower temperatures made snow the main product of Sandy's slow march from the sea. Parts of the West Virginia mountains were blanketed with 2 feet of snow by Tuesday afternoon, and drifts 4 feet deep were reported at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.


Presidential hopefuls ease off campaigning

The presidential candidates' campaign maneuverings Tuesday revealed the delicacy of the need to look presidential in a crisis without appearing to capitalize on a disaster. President Barack Obama canceled a third straight day of campaigning, scratching events scheduled for today in swing-state Ohio, in Sandy's path. He planned to view the devastation in New Jersey today. In Washington, he visited Red Cross headquaters. Republican Mitt Romney resumed his campaign with plans for an Ohio rally billed as a "storm relief event." At the last minute, campaign signs were taken down, and the 2,000 attendees were asked to bring canned goods.

Romney will make Florida swing today

Romney has a three-city campaign swing in Florida today, starting this morning at Landmark Aviation in Tampa. He'll be joined by former Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack. Later, Romney campaigns at the University of Miami and in Jacksonville.

New York, New Jersey explore voting options

The New York State Board of Elections said it was working with local election officials to determine whether the effects of the storm would hinder voting next Tuesday. "We've been in conference calls all day with counties impacted by the storm," said John Conklin, a board spokesman. "New York City has given its poll site list to Con Edison so they can prioritize the restoration of power. They'll determine whether they need to come up with alternate sites." On the hard-hit New Jersey coastline, a county elections chief said some polling places on barrier islands will be unusable and have to be moved. "This is the biggest challenge we've ever had," said George R. Gilmore, Ocean County Board of Elections chairman.

Christie praises Obama declaration

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a campaign surrogate for Romney, praised Obama for declaring a "major disaster" in the state, clearing the way for immediate federal assistance to eight storm-damaged counties. Christie said he didn't care about presidential politics with Election Day a week away. "I don't give a damn about Election Day. It doesn't matter a lick to me," he said. "At the moment I have much bigger fish to fry than that and so do the people of the state of New Jersey."


Utility workers, Red Cross helpers on way

As Hurricane Sandy paralyzed millions along the Northeast, Tampa Bay area emergency response crews sprang into action. More than 600 workers from Progress Energy and nearly 300 from TECO were on their way up the coast Tuesday to lend a hand in New Jersey. The local chapter of the American Red Cross sent three trucks, with six volunteers, to provide relief, hot meals and fresh water to those in need. More volunteers will head out once airports reopen, spokeswoman Janet McGuire said.


Late night TV goes on in most cases

As he did Monday, David Letterman was to again host the Late Show on Tuesday night without a studio audience. Jimmy Fallon, after sending his studio audience home Monday, planned to resume taping Late Night with an audience Tuesday. Jimmy Kimmel, who brought his Los Angeles-based Jimmy Kimmel Live to Brooklyn for a week's worth of shows, was live from the Brooklyn Academy of Music Tuesday night after canceling Monday's show. Comedy Central's The Daily Show and The Colbert Report both canceled Tuesday night's tapings. Saturday Night Live is expected to put on a new show Saturday as scheduled, with host Louis C.K.

Off-Broadway houses face longer time off

While Broadway theaters were closed and ready to reopen tonight, the thriving downtown off-Broadway community, with most of its theaters in lower Manhattan, was still assessing the damage and likely facing a longer time off. Aside from Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center cancelling performances, the Metropolitan Opera and Radio City Music Hall were also closed Tuesday.

Information from Times staff, the Associated Press and New York Times was used in this report.

A warm, muggy Saturday with maybe some rain this afternoon

A warm, muggy Saturday with maybe some rain this afternoon

Expect a nice day, but keep an umbrella handy, especially for later in the afternoon.The forecast from the National Weather Service in Ruskin calls for warm and muggy temperatures around the Tampa Bay area today and Sunday with daytime highs in the l...
Published: 05/19/18
Forecast: Rainy weather sticking around Tampa Bay this weekend

Forecast: Rainy weather sticking around Tampa Bay this weekend

TAMPA— The dark clouds and intermittent rain that consumed the work week won’t be taking any days off just because the weekend is here as more scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service....
Published: 05/18/18
Forecast: Warm and rainy as Tampa Bay heads into weekend

Forecast: Warm and rainy as Tampa Bay heads into weekend

As temperatures rise Thursday afternoon, so will the chance of rain across the Tampa Bay. Expect to see some heavy cloud cover and scattered showers around lunchtime, according to the National Weather Service.Thursday morning will start with relative...
Published: 05/17/18
Forecast: Blossoming thunderstorms across Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future

Forecast: Blossoming thunderstorms across Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future

ST. PETERSBURG — Scattered showers and overcast skies will continue well into next week, as a weak weather system trudging north through the Gulf of Mexico could drop around 6-9 inches of rain across inland regions of Tampa Bay.Although a large area ...
Published: 05/16/18
Forecast: Weakening system will still produce soaking rains across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Weakening system will still produce soaking rains across Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — Following a day of soaking rain from a large low-pressure area that threatened to develop into an early tropical system, there’s some relative relief for the Tampa Bay area.The widespread rain that produced up to 6-8 inches in some a...
Published: 05/15/18
Dry no more: Tampa Bay is set to get soaked this week

Dry no more: Tampa Bay is set to get soaked this week

Tampa Bay’s dryspell ended emphatically on Monday.A low-pressure system churning its way up the Gulf of Mexico doused the region with up to three inches of rain Monday, according to the National Weather Service.The potential tropical system brought s...
Published: 05/14/18
Low pressure system in gulf has

Low pressure system in gulf has "medium" chance of strengthening into tropical or subtropical system this week

ST. PETERSBURG — Clouds, showers and thunderstorms in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico could strengthen into a tropical or subtropical storm affecting Florida in the next few days, National Hurricane Center forecasters predicted Sunday.In a 3:40 p.m. ...
Published: 05/13/18
Updated: 05/14/18
Forecast: Tropical moisture dampens Airfest, weekend plans across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Tropical moisture dampens Airfest, weekend plans across Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — A deep wave of tropical moisture that’s moving through Tampa Bay from the south is making for a dreary outlook for folks hoping to enjoy some sunshine for this weekend’s MacDill AirFest and the long-awaited opening of Julian B. Lane ...
Published: 05/12/18
Hurricane debate: Will we see intense seasons or quieter ones?

Hurricane debate: Will we see intense seasons or quieter ones?

Hurricane season is still three weeks away. But among hurricane scientists an intense debate has long been churning:Is the Atlantic Ocean in the midst of a long period of hyperactive hurricane seasons? Or have we entered a period of sedate storm seas...
Published: 05/11/18
Forecast: Sunny Friday leads to higher humidity, rain chance across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Sunny Friday leads to higher humidity, rain chance across Tampa Bay

TAMPA — As summer fast approaches, the weather in the Tampa Bay region is heating up. As a result, expect a typical summertime pattern today and into the weekend.Thanks to a high-pressure system moving over northern Florida, Tampa will get a warm sun...
Published: 05/11/18