National briefs: Start of winter brings wild mix

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CONCORD, N.H. -- The first full day of winter brought a wild mix of weather across the U.S. on Sunday: ice and high wind in the Great Lakes and New England areas, flooding in the South, snow in the Midwest and record-shattering temperatures in the 60s and 70s along the mid-Atlantic.

Snow and ice knocked out power to 440,000 homes and businesses in Michigan, upstate New York and northern New England, and also left more than 400,000 people without electricity in eastern Canada. It could be days before the lights are back on everywhere.

At least nine deaths in the U.S. were blamed on the storm, including five people killed in flooding in Kentucky and a woman who died after a tornado with winds of 130 mph struck in Arkansas. Four people were killed in Canada in highway accidents related to the storm.

The icy weather was expected to make roads hazardous through at least Monday from the upper Midwest to northern New England during one of the busiest travel times of the year.

As of midafternoon, more than 700 airline flights had been canceled and more than 11,000 delayed, according to aviation tracking website FlightAware.com.

High-temperature records for the date fell for the second straight day in the mid-Atlantic states because of a mass of hot, muggy air from the South.

In New York's Central Park, the mercury reached 70 degrees, easily eclipsing the previous high of 63 from 1998. Records were also set in Wilmington, Del., (67), Atlantic City, N.J., (68), and Philadelphia (67). Washington tied its 1889 mark at 72.

Temperatures were expected to return to normal by Monday night and Tuesday, dropping back into the 30s.

Author's death a suicide

NEW YORK -- Ned Vizzini, a precocious and highly praised writer of popular young-adult novels that often dealt with themes of teenage anxiety and depression -- and still made readers laugh -- died Thursday in New York City. He was 32. He took his own life, according to his father, James.

The New York City chief medical examiner's office said he had suffered blunt impact injuries. The writer's brother, Daniel, told reporters that Vizzini had jumped off the roof of the building where their parents live.

Vizzini wrote openly about his struggles with depression and spoke about it with student groups. One of his most celebrated novels, "It's Kind of a Funny Story," published in 2006, is based on the five days he spent in the psychiatric ward of a Brooklyn hospital in 2004.

Man, toddler die from fall

NEW YORK -- A 35-year-old man plunged from a high-rise in Manhattan on Sunday with his toddler son, the police said. The man and the child died, the authorities said.

The man, who was 35, was killed immediately by the fall, while the 3-year-old boy -- the man's son -- was taken a block away to Roosevelt Hospital in critical condition and died shortly after.

The man, identified by the police as Dmitriy Kanarikov, had recently separated from his wife and was sharing custody of their young son, Kirill, said John J. McCarthy, the Police Department's chief spokesman.

Bloomberg's 'SNL' debut

NEW YORK -- Even after three terms in City Hall, Michael R. Bloomberg is still managing a mayoral first.

The billionaire mayor made his "Saturday Night Live" debut early Sunday, mocking his famously stilted Spanish, bantering with the episode's host, Jimmy Fallon, and ensuring that, just under the wire, he would not become the first New York City mayor since Abraham D. Beame never to appear on one of the city's most iconic cultural institutions.

The mayor's segment, a surprise cameo on the program's satirical news skit, "Weekend Update," marked the first time that he agreed to go on the late-night sketch show in his 12-year tenure, which ends on Jan. 1.

Gas prices drop

The average U.S. price of gasoline has dipped 2 cents a gallon in the past two weeks after a month of increases.

According to the Lundberg Survey released Sunday, the average for a gallon of regular is now $3.26. Of cities surveyed in the Lower 48 states, the lowest price, $2.84 a gallon, was in Tulsa, Okla.



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