Northeastern United States braced for impending storm

Power cuts and travel delays expected as blizzard warning issued for eastern seaboard


A fast-moving winter storm was expected to hit the northeastern United States, forecasters warned on Monday, threatening to snarl travel and knock out power while prompting some city officials to order schools to close on Tuesday.

The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, with forecasts calling for up to 60cm of snow in places by early Wednesday, with temperatures 15 to 30 degrees below normal for this time of year.

Some 50 million people along the eastern seaboard were under storm or blizzard warnings and watches.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo activated the state Emergency Operations Center as of Monday night while also directing state agencies to be on heightened alert.

“I strongly urge everyone to limit unnecessary travel on Tuesday,” said Governor Cuomo, adding that commuters should expect road closures, delays and cancellations.

The storm comes near the end of an unusually mild winter along much of the east coast, with below-normal snowfalls in cities such as New York and Washington.

Peaking on Tuesday

Boston was braced for up to 30cm of snow, which forecasters warned would fall quickly during the storm’s expected peak on Tuesday.

“During its height we could see snowfall rates of one to 3in (2½-7½cm), even up to 4in (10cm) per hour,” said Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Massachusetts.

Winds were forecast to gust up to 100km/h in spots, potentially causing power cuts and coastal flooding.

New York City and Providence, Rhode Island, went ahead and cancelled public schools in anticipation of the storm.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey prepared hundreds of pieces of snow equipment at the three major New York area airports. Thousands of tons of salt and sand were prepared for airport roads, parking lots, bridges and tunnels.

But the New York Stock Exchange vowed to remain open for the tiny fraction of trades that still take place on the trading room floor on Wall Street.

“We haven’t closed due to inclement weather since 1996. We have a range of contingencies and as of this moment it will be business as usual,” said spokeswoman Kristen Kaus.

Washington DC, which often bogs down with even low levels of snow, was expecting 13cm (5in) and twice that in outlying areas.

– (Reuters)