Gale-Force Winds, Rain and Snow Lash Much of Northeastern US

BOSTON (AP) -- Gale-force winds lashed much of the northeastern U.S. on Monday, prompting tornado watches and flash-flood warnings.

“Hold on to your hats!” the National Weather Service in Boston tweeted as gusts exceeding 50 mph (80 kph) and heavy rainfall bore down on a large swath of southern New England.

Authorities warned of the potential for widespread power outages and dangerous street flooding during the evening rush hour. They said there was a heightened risk of isolated tornadoes in some areas, including southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In Connecticut, the fast-moving storm knocked out power to more than 32,000 households, utilities said.

More than 43,000 homes and businesses had lost power as of midafternoon in Massachusetts, mostly on Cape Cod, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

The state transportation agency said a portion of the eastbound Massachusetts Turnpike was shut down late Monday after a tractor-trailer rig jacknifed, spilling a large amount of fuel on the highway. State police lowered the speed limit elsewhere on Interstate 90 after a number of crashes blamed on poor road conditions.

In Warren, Rhode Island, heavy winds uprooted a large Burger King sign and sent it crashing to the ground. No injuries were reported.