Mega blizzard aims at US Northeast
NEW YORK (AFP) – A major snowstorm bore down on the northeastern United States Friday, with heavy snow, blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures forecast from New York through Maine as well as densely populated inland areas.
The National Weather Service predicted a “major winter storm” for Friday into Saturday and said New York City was in for blizzard conditions, including sustained strong winds and snowfall.
“Two weather systems from the polar and subtropical jet streams will combine to produce a major and potentially historic winter storm,” the NWS said.
The storm comes a little over three months after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area of New York City and New Jersey, killing 132 people and causing damages estimated at over $71.4 billion.
The latest storm was expected to pound Boston particularly hard, but forecasters said the system should blow through on Saturday, with milder temperatures to follow.
“The storm should reach its peak intensity early Saturday morning just east of Cape Cod,” the weather service said, forecasting between one and two feet (30 to 60 centimetres) of snow across the region.
Strong winds of 25-35 miles (40-56 kilometres) per hour, with hurricane-strength gusts of up to 75 miles per hour, were expected, creating deep drifts.
Forecasters said New York would see accumulations of more than a foot of snow, while Boston, where schools were ordered closed, was due to be buried under as much as two feet, with far more in the drifts.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said city schools would remain open, but the famous Staten Island ferry would operate on a reduced schedule, and residents were advised to prepare for the worse.
“Due to potential power outages and transportation difficulties, New Yorkers are advised to stock up on potential supplies, including medicine,” Bloomberg said.
Authorities in New York and neighbouring New Jersey were summoning extra personnel and readying snow removal equipment. They said they had concentrated more than 200 pieces of snow and ice removal equipment in key area airports such as JFK International, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International.
Roughly 900 flights were canceled and thousands more were delayed even though the worst weather was not expected until Friday. The weather front has already hit Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, where snow and ice delayed flights on Thursday afternoon. More than 80 flights scheduled to depart from that airport were canceled, said FlightAware.com.