Winter storm creates messy commute
The biggest storm to hit the Northeast this winter pushed its way up the Philadelphia-to-Boston corridor with a potential for more than a foot of snow in places Thursday, making for a slippery morning commute and giving millions of people weather whiplash a day after temperatures soared into the 50s and 60s.
Scores of accidents were reported as drivers confronted windblown snow and slick highways. More than 3,500 flights were cancelled, and all planes in and out of New York’s Kennedy Airport were ordered held on the ground while crews cleared the runways.
Schools closed in cities big and small, including New York City, Philadelphia and Boston, and government offices told non-essential workers to stay home.
A doorman in New York City died after falling through a window while shovelling snow, police said. He suffered cuts on his face and neck.
The storm was expected to dump up to 18 inches in Boston, as much as a foot in New York City and up to 8 inches in the Philadelphia area. But it appeared to be underperforming in the early going.
By midmorning, it had largely wound down in the Philadelphia area, leaving roughly 3 inches downtown and as much as 5 inches in some suburbs.
Wearing a T-shirt, Alicia Jones tossed salt on the sidewalk outside the Philadelphia restaurant where she works as a server. She said her daughter had the day off from school, and Jones had been looking forward to playing in the snow.
“But by the time we woke up, it was all over,” she said.
New York’s LaGuardia Airport had about 9 inches of snow just before noon, and it was expected to continue falling until evening, with close to 12 inches in the city and up to 15 on Long Island.
A group of women wearing their pyjamas on a New York City sidewalk because it was “Pajama Day” at ABC’s “The Chew” show were undeterred by the snow.
Elaine Higgins, a retired educator from Blackwood, New Jersey, was among those waiting in the freezing cold to get into ABC’s studios.
“It’s fun. And it’s an experience. Yesterday was 65 degrees and today, a snowstorm,” she said. “What’s life without adventure?”
Connecticut communities had 8 to 10 inches of snow by midday.
“We were waiting for a good one all year,” said Morgan Crum, a manager at Katz Ace Hardware in Glastonbury, Connecticut. “We live in New England. This is what we expect.”
Crum said more than 50 people stopped by the store to buy shovels, ice melt, gas cans and other storm provisions.
The storm came midway through a largely snow-free winter in the Northeast and a day after much of the region enjoyed a brief taste of spring, with record-breaking highs in some places. Temperatures then crashed more than 30 degrees as the storm rolled in.
Governors across the region urged people to stay off the roads to keep them clear for plows and emergency vehicles.
“This is a pretty nasty storm. We’re doing our best to stay on top of it,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.
People walk near Independence Hall in Philadelphia Wednesday (top photo) and Thursday, showing the change after a fast-moving storm swept into the Northeastern U.S. on Thursday.