Hannah Rosenberg / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

A UPS truck illuminates the road in Westchester County, after a Monday storm caused many power outages in southern New York.

April 13, 2020

Power Outages Disrupt Online Classes as Storm Sweeps East Coast

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CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. — Power outages and down internet service rattled online classes on Monday, as heavy rains and wind gusts roared through the tri-state area.

Gusts of up to 70 m.p.h. toppled power lines and ended students’ Zoom lectures in New York City, Westchester County, Long Island and other counties in southern New York. The same storm also tore through southern Connecticut and the Philadelphia area, disrupting virtual classes as the high winds that devastated regions of the South on Sunday move through the East Coast.

Ciara Frawley ’22 of Yorktown, New York, was writing an essay for an applied economics and management course when her power went out around 11 a.m. on Monday. The lights flickered and then turned off as the trees swayed outside her house. Frawley said she hoped the Wi-Fi would return soon — her paper is due on Tuesday. Nine hours later, her internet connection was restored.

“It’s very dark and depressing out and the wind is very loud and fast,” Frawley said Monday afternoon. “I kind of knew it was going to come sooner or later just because of the trees swaying.”

Frawley said she plugged in her computer and phone as soon as she heard the weather forecast.

Even with charged devices, she and the more than 650 Cornellians sheltering in Westchester County experienced temporarily down or spotty Wi-Fi connection as trees moved outside their windows. Twenty-five minutes south of Frawley, Annelies Parke ’23 of Irvington said though the power in her house remained, her internet connection wavered throughout the day.

The Northeast storm that is causing heavy gusts, rain and a few isolated tornadoes is part of the same weather system that ripped through Georgia and five other southern states on Sunday, as tornadoes caused widespread power outages and ravaged homes.

As of Monday evening, there were more than 600 power outages across New York City and Westchester identified on the Con Edison outage map. A Connecticut map reported an additional 1,500 outages, and thousands are also without power in New Jersey.

Other students were in the middle of live Zoom classes when the platform quit and their microwave clocks went blank. Mia Krishnamurthy ’23 of Westport, Connecticut, said the downed Wi-Fi pushed her off her live applied economics and management lecture, but the power returned after about 20 minutes.

Minutes away from Krishnamurthy, Lilly Howes ’21 said she was also without power for only about 20 minutes in Westport on Monday afternoon, but worried about longer-term outages.

“We’re all in quarantine, and then all of the sudden we don’t have internet or lights,” Howes said. “It’s the worst of the worst.”