Winter is coming: US snowstorm blasts New Yorkers as cold snap bites

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 February, 2017, 2:28pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 February, 2017, 10:13pm

Airlines cancelled more than 3,000 flights, winter storm warnings stretched from Maine to New Jersey and salt trucks deployed across the region on Thursday as the season’s most dangerous snow event rolled into the Northeast.

I want to emphasise to all New Yorkers, stay inside if you can. Don’t go out if you don’t have to
Mayor Bill de Blasio

National Weather Service winter storm warnings and watches covered more than 40 million people. Parts of central Pennsylvania had already picked up eight inches early Thursday, with northern Jersey hit with up to five inches, the Weather Channel reported. Albany recorded four inches of snow in one hour. Much of the region had enjoyed seasonally warm temperatures in the 60s and 70s Wednesday. By Thursday morning, heavy snow snarled the morning rush in New York City.

“We are currently experiencing the worst of the storm,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. ”I want to emphasise to all New Yorkers, stay inside if you can. Don’t go out if you don’t have to. If you need to go out, please don’t use your car because we need to let our Sanitation Department clear the roads,” he said. On New York City’s Upper West Side and in Central Park, dogs in pet boots danced in the snow and rolled on their backs while their owners, jacket hoods pulled down low, held onto their leashes and chuckled as they tried to keep up with them. Kids off from school rushed toward the park’s steep hills pulling sleds behind them.

A few hardy runners made their way slowly over the powdered snow. On the streets, people in boots and hooded all-weather coats walked gingerly along sidewalks, some carrying grocery bags and others slowly making their way to the nearest subway entrance.

On New York City’s tony Park Avenue, doormen repeatedly cleared the snow from the pavements in front of their apartment buildings, homes to some of the city’s wealthiest residents. Meanwhile, cars and other vehicles proceeded cautiously in the blowing snow, some of them skidding on the hillier stretches of adjoining Lexington Avenue, a major southbound artery in Manhattan.

Dangerous travel conditions were forecast for cities from Philadelphia to New York City and Boston, the weather service said. Scores of school districts, including Boston and New York City, shut down.

“A Blizzard Warning is now in effect for Nassau and Suffolk County ... with heavy snowfall rates leading to whiteout conditions,“ the weather service tweeted Thursday morning. More than 1,700 flights in New York-area airports alone were cancelled. The city rolled out 2,300 salt spreaders and ploughs, and de Blasio advised residents to use public transportation if they must travel at all.

“As Mother Nature once again tests the resilience and strength of this state, I urge New Yorkers to plan ahead, stay informed, and above all, stay safe,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

In New Jersey, a jackknifed tractor trailer closed lanes near Bedminster, about 72km west of New York City. The New Jersey Turnpike speed limit was lowered its entire length.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said a snow emergency went into effect at 10am local time on Thursday and remain through the storm. About 10 to 15 inches of snow is expected to fall on the area. The city public works department said it was ready. “PWD will have a full call-out of over 600 pieces of snow removal equipment on the road for the duration of today’s storm,” the department tweeted. “Pls travel safely.”