Blizzard kills two, US Northeast grinds to halt
NEW YORK (AFP) – A ferocious snowstorm pummeled the northeastern United States for a second straight day Saturday, killing at least two people, bringing transportation to a halt and cutting off power to at least half a million customers.
The storm dumped more than a foot and a half (about 46 centimetres) of snow on New York state and Connecticut, severing power and transport links for tens of millions of people.
Massachusetts, which was due to bear the brunt of the blizzard, was forecast to get up to two feet of snow.
With wind and heavy snow snapping power lines everywhere in the affected area, more than half a million customers sat in homes without electricity, including 389,000 in Massachusetts, 177,000 in Rhode Island, and 35,000 in Connecticut.
Airlines canceled more than 3,000 flights on Friday. New York, one of the world’s busiest air travel hubs, was cut off from the skies as snow and wind led airlines to suspend all operations at LaGuardia, Newark Liberty and John F. Kennedy International airports.
A car driven by a young woman went out of control in the snow on a highway in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York, striking and killing a 74-year-old man, who was walking on the shoulder of the road.
And in Auburn, New Hampshire, a man was killed after losing control of his car and hitting a tree, local officials said.
Minor injuries were reported in a 19-car pileup on Interstate 295 in Falmouth, Maine, caused by poor visibility and slippery road conditions.
State state utility companies in Connecticut said they were planning for up to 30 percent of their customers, or more than 400,000 homes, to eventually lose power.
A gust of 74 miles (119 kilometres) per hour winds was reported on Nantucket Island.
LaGuardia general manager Tom Bosco told NY1 television that the airport was “battling” the storm and would strive to remain open even after the airlines shut down for the night.
In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick ordered all regular traffic off state roads, with the threat of up to a year in jail for violators.
“There are a number of exemptions for… emergency workers and the like. Please exercise caution and use common sense,” Patrick said at his emergency centre in Framingham.
In Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy issued a “ban on motor vehicle travel on limited access highways” to free up emergency services traffic and suspended commuter train service between New York and New Haven, Connecticut.
Rhode Island, where some of America’s most exclusive summer homes are located, also instituted driving restrictions.