Winter storm sweeps in across Northeast
By RODRIQUE NGOWI and JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN
The Associated Press | January 03,2014
Daryl Santos, 27, of Los Angeles, walks through a park while experiencing a snowstorm Thursday in Portland, Maine. Whiteout conditions and a temperature of zero degrees greeted Santos on his first trip to the East Coast.
BOSTON — A storm expected to bring more than a foot of snow, stiff winds and punishing cold pushed into the Northeast on Thursday, extending Christmas break for some students while posing the first test for New York’s new mayor and perhaps the last challenge for Boston’s outgoing one.
Some schools in New England and New York closed well ahead of the snow, while cities mobilized plows and salt spreaders, and state offices sent workers home early. Some major highways were ordered shut overnight. U.S. airlines canceled more than 2,300 flights nationwide Thursday in advance of the storm.
The heavy weather began rolling in just a day after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in and a few days before Boston Mayor Thomas Menino ends 20 years in office.
Menino announced a parking ban and said schools would be closed today in Boston, where up to 14 inches of snow was expected. Boston’s airport said it would not handle any flights after 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
“What a New Year’s gift, to receive one last snowstorm as mayor,” said Menino, whose successor takes office Monday.
De Blasio, who as public advocate in 2010 criticized his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for his handling of a post-Christmas storm, said hundreds of plows and salt spreaders would be on the streets as soon as the snow started falling Thursday night.
“We have to get it right, no question about it,” de Blasio said. “We are focused like a laser on protecting this city and getting everyone ready. We have all hands on deck.”
Snow began falling overnight Wednesday in parts of New England and New York state, but the brunt of the storm wasn’t expected until late Thursday. Forecasters said temperatures would plummet, with some areas seeing highs just above zero and wind-chill readings of minus 10 and lower.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Cape Cod, coastal areas north and south of Boston and part of Maine as well as New York’s Long Island, where 8 to 10 inches of snow could fall and winds could gust to 45 mph.
“We’re going to see a lot of snow and a lot of wind,” forecaster Jason Tuell said. “We’re concerned about whiteout conditions possibly tonight with the blowing and drifting snow.”
Interior southern New England and New York state could get up to a foot of snow. New York City was expecting 8 inches, while Philadelphia could see 3 to 7.
As the storm pushed eastward on New Year’s Day and Thursday, it dropped as much as 18 inches on suburban Chicago and up to 10 inches on Michigan, prompting the cancellation Wednesday of hundreds of flights in and out of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Below-zero cold is expected across the region over the next few days.
AAA Michigan said it received 3,100 calls Thursday from drivers dealing with spin-outs, cars in ditches and dead batteries. Accidents and delays were also reported from Missouri to New Hampshire.
“Anything below 25 degrees and the salt isn’t nearly as effective,” said Becky Allmeroth, a maintenance engineer with the state of Missouri, where crews were mixing chemicals and beet juice with salt to try to make roads passable.
Authorities said the weather may have been a factor in a fatal crash Wednesday evening involving a pickup and a bus carrying casino patrons in Indiana. Police said the truck’s driver was killed and 15 bus passengers were injured in the collision on a snow-covered and slushy highway in Rolling Prairie.