ENVIRONMENT
03/14/2017 09:37 am ET Updated Mar 15, 2017

Winter Storm Pounds U.S. Northeast, Thousands Of Flights Canceled And Schools Closed

At least 20 inches of snow has fallen on parts of New England, northern New York, and eastern Pennsylvania so far.
  • The storm continued to hover over New England and parts of northern New York and Pennsylvania on Tuesday afternoon.

  • The driver of a DPW truck was killed when his vehicle was hit by an oncoming Amtrak train.
  • About 7 inches of snow fell on New York City ― much less than predicted.

  • Areas of eastern Pennsylvania and northern New York have been hit with over 20 inches of snow so far.

  • More than 215,000 people from Virginia to New England lost power.

A fierce winter storm hammered the northeastern United States on Tuesday, causing thousands of flight cancellations, school closures and public transportation delays.

As the storm system barreled up the East Coast, an estimated 50 million people were under storm or blizzard warnings and watches. The wild weather cut power to more than 215,000 people in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, The Associated Press reported.

The driver of a DPW truck was killed by an oncoming Amtrak train Tuesday afternoon in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. He was clearing snow off the tracks.

As of Tuesday afternoon, blizzard warnings issued by the National Weather Service remained in effect for areas of western Massachusetts and northern New York and Connecticut. Temperatures across the region were predicted to be as low as 15 to 30 degrees below normal, threatening icy conditions for the Wednesday morning commute.

The NWS forecast Tuesday evening that temperatures across most of the eastern third of the country would remain 10 to 25 degrees below average in the coming days. While heavy snows are expected to taper off, parts of northern New England may continue to see light snow into Thursday morning. 

Tara Silvetti, 38, spent Tuesday snowed in at home with her fiance and two teenage sons in Berwick, Pennsylvania, roughly 40 miles southwest of Scranton. By 3 p.m., Silvetti said, she measured at least 2 feet of snow.

“[My sons] have never experienced anything like this before,” Silvetti told The Huffington Post.

Silvetti said her family stocked up on groceries and fuel in the days leading up to the storm, but she was still shocked by how much snow actually fell.

“Even a week or so ago, we were having mild temperatures,” she said. “My kids were wearing shorts. It felt like spring was coming. ... We thought this [weather] was all over with.”

The powerful nor’easter emerged in the wake of a mild winter and record warm February. It was forecast to dump a total of 1 to 2 feet in the tri-state area, and wind gusts were expected to be as high as 50 miles per hour Tuesday.

By 8:30 a.m., the weather service had lifted blizzard warnings for New York City, Long Island, coastal Connecticut and portions of New Jersey. Around 3 p.m., New York City had roughly 7 inches of snow, the Weather Channel reported.

A snow plow drives through Times Square as snow falls in Manhattan on March 14, 2017.
Andrew Kelly / Reuters
A snow plow drives through Times Square as snow falls in Manhattan on March 14, 2017.

“Mother Nature is an unpredictable lady this morning,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) told “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday. “The storm actually has shifted. It shifted west. There’s less snowfall in New York City. ... There’s actually more in the Hudson Valley and western part of the state.”

Cuomo added that New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport were “basically closed.”

The governor tweeted around 4:30 p.m. that the region’s Metro-North rail service would resume hourly service at 6 p.m. and run until 11 p.m. on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines. Currently limited bus service in New York City should resume regularly scheduled service by Wednesday morning. 

In Staten Island, a pair of ponies were among those seen frolicking in the snow after escaping from a stable, DNAinfo reported. The animals were eventually collared by local police officers.

Governors declared states of emergency in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Thousands of schools across the affected region were closed Tuesday, including all public schools in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia.

Strong winds resulted in coastal flooding in parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The tide reached 7.8 feet in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Tuesday morning, just shy of the 8-foot threshold where major flooding can occur, AP reported.

The storm prompted airlines to cancel more than 6,000 flights this week, according to the airline-tracking website FlightAware. Amtrak suspended all Northeast Regional train service between New York and Boston.

New York City’s subway continued to operate underground, while aboveground service was suspended at 4 a.m. Tuesday.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio asked residents to stay off the roads Tuesday, urging people to use mass transit if travel is absolutely necessary.

“There’s no reason to be on the roads,” Cuomo tweeted. “It’s dangerous.”

However, NYC tourists still hoping to catch a Broadway performance got some good news. Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, announced Tuesday that all Broadway shows would continue as scheduled that evening. “The show must go on,” St. Martin said.

In Boston, where 5 to 8 inches of snow were expected, the MBTA offered reduced service while operating on a severe weather schedule. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) tweeted that state offices for non-emergency executive branch employees would be closed Tuesday. City officials said Boston schools would remain closed on Wednesday.

By early afternoon, the storm had unloaded over a foot of snow on areas in Connecticut and Rhode Island. At around 2 p.m., Bradley International Airport, located 15 miles north of Hartford, Connecticut, recorded its second highest March snowfall total at 14.7 inches, according to the NWS.

With 14.9 inches falling by 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Albany ranked it as one of top 10 biggest March snowstorms on record, the NWS reported. Winter storm Stella brought a new 24-hour snowfall record by 8 p.m. in Binghamton, New York, with 28.8 inches of snow in just one day.

Thundersnow was reported in some areas, including parts of New York and Massachusetts. The NWS encouraged those who observed the unusual weather phenomenon to stay indoors.

A Park Service snow plow truck pushes snow off Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House on March 14, 2017, in Washingt
Mark Wilson via Getty Images
A Park Service snow plow truck pushes snow off Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House on March 14, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Roughly 1 to 3 inches of snow covered Washington, D.C., by early Tuesday before precipitation tapered off, the Weather Channel reported. Local government offices opened two hours late, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bower tweeted.

Washington Metro trains ran less frequently, but were expected to continue running throughout normal hours of operation.

The NWS ended weather advisories inside the Beltway by 2 p.m., though light flurries were forecast to continue into the evening. Snowfall accumulation totaled 10 inches in Frederick County, Maryland, less than 50 miles northwest of Washington.

President Donald Trump met with D.C. public officials Monday night to discuss preparations for the impending storm.

Just before 4 p.m. Tuesday, employees at Bacio’s Pizzeria, in Washington’s northeast neighborhood of Bloomingdale, could be found scraping snow from outdoor tabletops and preparing to open the Italian eatery for business. Lulu Lovano, the restaurant’s manager, told HuffPost that while the storm came as a bit of a surprise, it was not enough to keep him from opening.

“We were definitely expecting more [snow] than this,” he said.

Nina Golgowski, Chris D’Angelo, Lydia O’Connor and Rebecca Shapiro contributed reporting.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

HuffPost

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