- New York City bans travel, shuts down buses, rail lines
- Airlines start making tentative plans to fly again on Sunday
“This is very likely one of the worst storms in our history,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news briefing at the Office of Emergency Management in Brooklyn. The storm could place in the top five for snowfall in records going back to 1869. “Don’t go out -- or go out very briefly -- and watch your kids carefully.”
Vehicles were ordered off roads around New York City starting at 2:30 p.m., while Metro North, Long Island Rail Road and above-ground Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway trains all stopped at 4 p.m., New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
“Plows cannot keep up with snowfall at a certain rate. That is a situation that is now occurring,” Cuomo said on Twitter. He declared a state of emergency earlier. All Broadway matinee and evening performances have been canceled for the day, and restaurants were urged to close as well.
Huge Snow TotalsReports of 16 to 20 inches of snow were common across New York and northern New Jersey, as well as the Washington area, as the snow kept falling Saturday. Several towns in western Maryland and West Virginia had just under three feet. The unincorporated community of Glengary, West Virginia, recorded 40 inches of snow.
LaGuardia Airport in New York City had 16.2 inches, as of 1 p.m., and by 4 p.m. Central Park had logged 19.3 inches and counting, the weather service said. The record in Central Park was 26.9 inches set in February 2006.
The storm is also on track to reach historic proportions in Washington, which could have one of its three deepest snows. The city received 28 inches in January 1922 and 20 inches in February 1899. By late Saturday snow had been falling steadily in the nation’s capital for over 24 hours.
‘Please Stay Home’“We’re still in that time frame where really bad things can happen,” Chris Geldart, director of the District of Columbia’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said at a briefing.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told people to stay home so crews can deal with the growing piles of snow. “There are too many people on the streets, both driving and walking,” Bowser said at the briefing. “We are still very much in our emergency response phase. Please stay home.”
More than 1,300 people were using shelters in Washington at 1 p.m. local time, up from less than 400 at 9 a.m., Dora Taylor, a spokeswoman for the city, said in an e-mail. The D.C. National Guard has been working with city authorities to deliver food to shelters.
In addition to the heavy totals along the East Coast, the storm also dumped snow from Alabama to Arkansas to Pennsylvania, as well as leaving parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky coated in ice.
Treacherous InterstatesHundreds of drivers were stranded overnight on a treacherous 30-mile stretch of Interstate 75 in south-central Kentucky, and traffic was stopped for much of Saturday on a hilly section of Interstate 76 in Pennsylvania. More than 135 police and fire fighters have been checking on stranded motorists on the highway around Somerset County, Pennsylvania, east of Pittsburgh, bringing them extra fuel and directing them to shelters, according to a statement from Governor Tom Wolf’s office.
At least 17 deaths have been attributed to the storm, mostly in traffic accidents, according to the Associated Press.
About 182,000 homes and businesses were without power as of 4 p.m. New York time, according to a survey by Bloomberg of utility websites. Cuomo said most of the New York outages were on Long Island. The Washington area mostly avoided power outages.
10,000 FlightsSome 10,246 flights have been canceled in the U.S. through Monday, according to Houston-based FlightAware. Most of Saturday’s scrubbed trips were from the New York area’s three large airports. Runways remain closed at the three major Washington-area airports. It is too early to assess when flights could resume after the snowfall ends, according to a posting on the Dulles International Airport website.
United Continental Holdings Inc. will start limited operations from Newark and New York Sunday and doesn’t plan to resume flying from Washington until Monday, the carrier said in a statement. Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc. both plan to start flying from said New York, Washington and Philadelphia Sunday, according to statements.
Delta said these plans are dependent on airport and security personnel being able to get to the terminals -- a challenge with public transit shut down in some cities.
The recovery on the ground may also take time. CSX Corp. is holding freight trains in the face of the heavy snow, and has warned customers to expect delays of as much as 48 hours moving through the affected region.
Coastal FloodingNew Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who hurried home on Friday from New Hampshire, where he was campaigning for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, declared a state of emergency. New Jersey Transit stopped bus, rail and light-rail service, according to the agency’s website.
New York is also bracing for potential coastal flooding in Long Island and around New York City, Cuomo said. The weather service warned high water could close roads in New Jersey.
As part of New York’s travel ban, bridges and tunnels leading to and from the city were closed at 2:30 p.m., according to a statement from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. This includes the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, as well as the Bayonne Bridge. The port authority also closed its bus terminal at 4 p.m.
Public TransitIn Washington, the city’s metro and bus service will remain off-line until Monday. Philadelphia halted regional rail and bus service starting at 4 a.m. Saturday. Amtrak, the national passenger railroad, continued to operate on a modified schedule, canceling several trains on the East Coast and halting service south of Washington.
Blizzard warnings that stretch from Virginia to the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, including Washington, Philadelphia and New York, will start to be lifted overnight.
The snow should start tapering off from Washington to New York through Saturday night, said Rob St. Pierre, a meteorologist with Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire. There may still be a band or two of heavy snow that will sweep the area.
In addition, Boston, which the storm missed most of the day Saturday, could pick up an inch or two by midnight, he said.
“Tomorrow looks like there will be sunshine and temperatures may get up to 35 degrees (1.6 degrees Celsius), so there will be some melting,” St. Pierre said. Those readings could drop back into the 20s Sunday night, making Monday’s commute a slick one, he said.