Snow grounds planes in US northeast, hitting returning Superbowl fans

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 February, 2014, 11:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 February, 2014, 4:37am

A fast-moving winter storm swept into the US northeast, forcing further flight cancellations, slowing traffic and proving weather-forecasting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil right.

Travellers leaving the New York city area on Monday, after the previous night's Super Bowl championship American football game, faced long delays at the region's airports and risky driving on snow-covered roads.

Hardest hit by the storm- related flight delays and cancellations was Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, the closest to the stadium.

The storm was expected to drop up to 20cm of snow on an area stretching from eastern Kentucky to eastern New York state.

"Snow is coming down faster than we can plough it," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference. He said the efforts to plough the city's streets were aimed at improving performance in the wake of the cleanup of a big storm in late January. Some residents of Manhattan's tony Upper East Side neighbourhood had claimed their streets were ignored during the storm as part of the mayor's key campaign theme of addressing income inequality.

"The response to the last storm obviously left something to be desired," de Blasio said.

At Newark Airport across the Hudson River in New Jersey, 204 flights were cancelled as of mid-afternoon on Monday, according to an online site that tracks air traffic.

Delays and cancellations also plagued New York's LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, as well as Philadelphia International Airport.

The small Teterboro Airport near the football stadium in New Jersey, which handles the private jets that would whisk away celebrities and other moneyed Super Bowl attendees, also reported delays, said.

"All the people came here for the Super Bowl thinking "Jersey ain't bad" are probably now stuck in the airport for the rest of the day," tweeted social media user Jonathan Chung.

Across the United States, 1,669 flights were cancelled, said.

The storm blew in after dumping snow in the Ohio Valley on Sunday, the day famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, saw his shadow and - as the legend has it - predicted six more weeks of winter.