Utility crews were working feverishly to restore power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in Pennsylvania and surrounding states that were still in the dark and cold today after an ice storm knocked out electricity to more than a million customers, damage one official likened to that from a hurricane. What made this storm—the Northeast's second of the week—stand out, and caused all those outages, was the thick coating of ice it left on trees and power lines. At its height, the storm knocked out power to nearly 849,000 customers in Pennsylvania, most of them in the counties around Philadelphia.
PECO, southeastern Pennsylvania's dominant utility, warned it could be until the weekend before the lights come back on for all of its more than 431,000 customers without power this morning. It was the second-worst storm in PECO's history, eclipsed only by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. FirstEnergy was reporting almost 49,000 customers without power, while PPL was reporting more than 20,000. In neighboring Maryland, where 76,000 customers were in the dark, power companies gave a restoration estimate of tomorrow. More than 7,000 New Jersey customers also lacked electricity. Officials pleaded with people not to use generators or gas grills indoors after 20 to 25 people in the Philadelphia area were taken to hospitals with carbon monoxide poisoning. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett also warned yesterday that an overnight refreeze could cause more problems on the roads today. (Read more severe weather stories.)