NEW YORK — A conveyor belt of thunderstorms accompanied by gusty winds rolled through the New York region on Tuesday afternoon, snarling train service, knocking out the power for tens of thousands of residents and killing at least three people who were struck by falling trees.
Meteorologists said a line of thunderstorms between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time 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 downed trees and power lines and left scores of people without electricity. In Connecticut alone, more than 100,000 customers were without power, according to Eversource. New York State Electric & Gas reported more than 70,000 customers without electricity as of about 9 p.m.
In Dutchess County, about 80 miles north of Manhattan, officials issued an emergency order restricting travel in some areas. Slightly south of there in Newburgh, the police say, a tree fell onto a vehicle, trapping an 11-year-old girl who was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Connecticut officials said a man was killed Tuesday when a tree fell on his truck in New Fairfield, and in Danbury, a man who had taken refuge to escape the storm was killed when a tree fell on his truck.
“Very few areas were left unscathed,” Bill Goodman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Tuesday evening.
Goodman said there had also been reports of wind ripping off the top of a water tower in Upper Manhattan and the roof off a hotel in Newburgh. There were also reports Tuesday afternoon of baseball-size hail in northeastern Pennsylvania and in Clermont, New York.
The bad weather caused chaos at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan early Tuesday evening.
Around 5:30 p.m., 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.
New Jersey Transit was not faring any better.
More than an hour later, Grand Central was still full of commuters. They stood cheek-to-jowl packed around the central clock underneath the vaulted ceiling and its constellation. No one went anywhere.
Instead, many people stood taking selfies to document the surreal scene.
Forrest West, 27, was seated at the edge of the balcony, trying to stay out of the crowd on the station floor before him.
“I can’t deal,” West said, as he waited for a train to his home in Stamford, Connecticut. “These people just look like thousands of ants.”
Every so often, a happy announcement would puncture the monotony: A train was up and running — and people responded by threading through the crowd toward their track at a brisk pace.
By late Tuesday evening, partial service had resumed on all three Metro-North lines, although lengthy delays persisted. The same was true for New Jersey Transit.
In the meantime, the 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.Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.