Winter Storm Blows Through Northeast, Millions Lose Power

Pepco crew repairs downed powerlines. Credit: Pepco

March 1 through 4, a "bomb cyclone" dubbed "Winter Storm Riley" crossed the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, eventually working its way up the East Coast into New England. Northern states received 2 to 3 feet of snow, but the storm's effects went far beyond precipitation. Damaging winds up to 90 mph knocked out power to nearly 2 million people, and record-breaking storm surges flooded coastal areas. The storm killed at least nine people.

As of March 3, the National Weather Service had received 751 wind damage reports. Virginia accounted for the most of any single state with 185. Dulles International Airport reported gusts over 50 mph for more than 12 hours.

Pepco, an electric utility for the Washington, D.C., area, reported power outages affected more than 240,000 customers. The utility said it received assistance from ComEd and electrical contractors M.J. Electric LLC and J.F. Electric Inc.

JF Electric arrived to help Pepco.
J.F. Electric arrived to help Pepco. Image credit: Pepco

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BG&E) reported loss of power to more than 400,000 customers.

"I would categorize the damage of this storm as severe," said Doug Hollandsworth, BG&E overhead crew leader. "One of the worst wind storms I think I've seen since I've been with the company."

BG&E also reported receiving help from ComEd and Hydro One, which drove trucks to the Baltimore region from Ontario, Canada.

New York utility Con Edison reported 132,000 customers lost power. The company said, in terms of outages, this storm was the fifth worst in Con Edison's history.

New England utility, National Grid US, reported having 241,000 customers without power. At the height of its reconstruction and restoration effort, it reported having 160 line crews and more than 300 contractor crews working, and by Sunday, it had restored power to 153,000.

Many utilities reported they would have the vast majority of customers' power restored by Sunday evening; however, as of Monday, roughly half a million homes were without power, and another storm was in the forecast for the following Tuesday and Wednesday. The National Weather Service had forecast another 1 to 2 feet of snow for western and northern New England.

About the Author

Timothy Johnson

Timothy Johnson is editor—digital for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine. Reach him at

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