Record-setting blizzard paralyzes Northeastern US
Blizzard wallops U.S. Northeast, closes roads
Planetark.org, Feb. 11, 2013
A blizzard slammed into the northeastern United States on Friday, snarling traffic, disrupting thousands of flights and prompting five governors to declare states of emergency in the face of a fearsome snowstorm.
The storm caused a massive traffic pile-up in southern Maine. Organizers of the U.S. sledding championship in that state postponed a race scheduled for Saturday, fearing too much snow for the competition.
The blizzard left about 10,000 along the East Coast without power. Almost 3,500 flights were canceled and officials in Massachusetts and Connecticut closed roads.
Forecasters warned about 2 feet of snow would blanket most of the Boston area with some spots getting as much as 30 inches. The city's record snowfall, 27.6 inches, came in 2003.
"We're seeing heavier snow overspread the region from south to north," said Lance Franck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts, outside Boston. "As the snow picks up in intensity, we're expecting it to fall at a rate of upwards of two to three inches per hour."
Early Friday evening, officials warned that the storm was just ramping up to full strength, and that heavy snow and high winds would continue through midday on Saturday. The governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Maine declared states of emergency and issued bans on driving by early Friday afternoon.
Authorities ordered nonessential government workers to stay home, urged private employers to do the same, told people to prepare for power outages and encouraged them to check on elderly or disabled neighbors.
People appeared to take the warnings seriously. Traffic on streets and public transportation services was significantly lighter than usual on Friday.
"This is a very large and powerful storm, however we are encouraged by the numbers of people who stayed home today," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told reporters.
Even so, the storm caused a few accidents, including a 19-vehicle pile-up outside Portland, Maine, that sent one person to the hospital.
Winds were blowing at 35 to 40 miles per hour by Friday afternoon and forecasters expected gusts up to 60 miles per hour as the evening wore on.
As he waited for one of the last subways that ran through the Boston area, musician John Hinson, who was visiting from Durham, North Carolina, said he had never seen a storm of the magnitude Friday's blizzard was expected to reach.
"I've been through some snow, a couple feet, but not anything like they're predicting, which is kind of exciting," he said.
LOOKING FOR SASQUATCH
The storm wasn't bad news for everyone.
When told an estimated 8 to 10 inches were predicted overnight at Elk Mountain in Uniondale, Pennsylvania, pint-sized skier Sophia Chesner's eye grew wide.
"Whoa!" said the 8-year old, of Moorestown, New Jersey, who was on a ski vacation with her family. Her sister, Giuliana, 4, said no matter how good the skiing is, she has other outer priorities once the snow piles up.
"First thing I'm going to do is build a snowman and look for a Sasquatch footprint," Guiliana Chesner said.
Life was not as rosy for those who planned to fly. Almost 3,500 flights were canceled on Friday, with more than 1,200 planned cancellations for Saturday, according to the website FlightAware.com.
The storm also posed a risk of flooding at high tide to areas still recovering from superstorm Sandy last fall.
"Many of the same communities that were inundated by Hurricane Sandy's tidal surge just about 100 days ago are likely to see some moderate coastal flooding this evening," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
About one foot of snow was forecast to land on New York City.
Brick Township in New Jersey had crews out building up sand dunes and berms ahead of a forecast storm surge, said Mayor Stephen Acropolis.
Travel became more difficult as the day progressed. Massachusetts started closing its public transportation system at 3:30 p.m. (2030 GMT) and ordered most drivers off roads by 4 p.m. (5.00 p.m. GMT) Connecticut also closed its roads.
The Amtrak railroad suspended service between New York, Boston and points north on Friday afternoon.
Organizers of the country's championship sledding race, which had been scheduled to get underway in Camden, Maine, on Saturday, postponed the event by one day. Some 400 teams were registered for the race, which features costumed sledders on a 400-foot (121 meter) chute.
"As soon as the weather clears on Saturday and it is safe, the toboggan committee will be out at Tobagganville cleaning up the chute as quickly as they can," said Holly Edwards, chairman of the U.S. National Toboggan Championships.
"It needs to be shoveled out by hand."
Blizzard hammers U.S. Northeast, four dead, 700,000 without power
Reuters, Feb. 9, 2013
(Reuters) - A record-breaking blizzard packing hurricane-force winds hammered the northeastern United States on Saturday, cutting power to 700,000 homes and businesses, shutting down travel and leaving at least four people dead.
The mammoth storm that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic dumped more than 3 feet of snow across the Northeast, the National Weather Service said. Coastal blizzard and flood warnings were in effect as the storm moved slowly eastward out to sea.
Stratford, Connecticut, Mayor John Harkins said he had never seen such a heavy snowfall, with rates reaching 6 inches an hour.
"Even the plows are getting stuck," Harkins told local WTNH television.
The storm centered its fury on Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, with the most snowfall, 38 inches, in Milford, Connecticut.
Authorities ordered non-essential vehicles to stay off roads to allow snow plow crews to clear them. The ban left normally busy arteries such as Interstate 93 in Massachusetts nearly deserted.
About 2,200 flights were canceled on Saturday, according to FlightAware, which tracks airline delays. Boston's Logan International Airport and Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, were shut down.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told a Boston radio station he would re-evaluate a vehicle travel ban he introduced on Friday, but would lift it only "when it's safe to do so."
The storm dumped 29.3 inches of snow on Portland, Maine, breaking a 1979 record. Winds gusted to 83 miles an hour at Cuttyhunk, New York, and brought down trees across the region.
The storm contributed to three deaths in Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy told a news conference.
An 80-year-old woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver while clearing her driveway, and a 40-year-old man collapsed while shoveling snow. One man, 73, slipped outside his home and was found dead on Saturday, Malloy said.
In Poughkeepsie, New York, a man in his 70s was struck and killed on a snowy roadway, local media reported.
A 30-year-old motorist in Auburn, New Hampshire, also died when his car went off the road, but the man's health might have been a factor in the accident, state authorities said.
Police in New York's Suffolk County, some using snowmobiles, rescued hundreds of motorists stuck overnight on the Long Island Expressway, said police spokesman Rich Glanzer. Some spent the night in their cars.
POWER LINES DOWN
Utility companies reported about 700,000 customers without electricity across nine states as the wet, heavy snow brought down tree branches and power lines.
The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, lost power and shut down automatically late on Friday, but there was no threat to the public, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.
A storm surge combined with a high tide led to isolated coastal flooding. U.S. Route 1A was closed in New Hampshire because of debris and rocks that washed ashore, police said.
As the storm tapered off, streets in Cambridge, Massachusetts, were largely quiet except for snowblowers and shoveling. Kevin Tierney, 41, struggled with a snowblower to carve out a parking space in more than 2 feet of snow.
"I had this all planned out, and I don't know who said it, but everybody goes into a boxing match with a plan until they get punched in the mouth," said Tierney, an attorney.
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Maine declared a state of emergency before the storm. The U.S. Postal Service suspended mail delivery in the six New England states.
Although New York was hit by a foot of snow, Fashion Week went on unfazed as crowds arrived to watch the morning's shows by Ruffian and LaCoste.
Andrea Daney, a digital marketing senior manager for LaCoste, said she was trying to be discreet as she changed from snow boots to high-heeled crushed blue velvet ankle boots.
"I'm calling it the shoe storm of the century," she said. "You have to make adjustments to your outfit."
The snow delighted New England's ski industry. Greg Kwasnick, a spokesman for Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire, said business was slightly slower than normal on Saturday but likely would pick up in coming days.
"Snow is what it's all about," he said.