MONTREAL (AFP) – A major winter storm blanketed a swathe of North America in snow on Monday as it sliced up the United States (US) east coast into Canada, disrupting travel and cutting power to thousands of homes.
Many Americans who had been without electricity – about 120,000 of them on Monday afternoon – seemed to be back online by the evening, according to the website PowerOutage.us. The biggest concentration of outages came in the mid-Atlantic state of West Virginia and the southeastern states of North and South Carolina and Georgia.
More than 1,700 flights within, into or out of the US were canceled by Monday evening, in addition to the 3,000 the day before, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.
Large parts of the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario remained under winter storm or blizzard warnings, according to a Canadian government website.
In Toronto, up to two feet of snow was expected – “a historic storm for the city,” tweeted Chief Meteorologist of Canadian TV channel Global News Anthony Farnell.
“The @cityoftoronto has declared a major snow storm condition in response to today’s heavy and disruptive snowfall which will help support our city-wide snow removal operations,” Toronto Mayor John Tory tweeted on Monday, and triggering a rule that prevents cars from parking in certain areas while the powder is cleared.
Many schools were closed and school buses were not operating in Quebec and the south of Ontario, including the Toronto area. Students had been due to return to classrooms on Monday in both provinces after the holiday break.
Monday was a national holiday in the US, so most schools and businesses were already closed, though many people usually take the opportunity to travel during the long weekend.
The US National Weather Service (NWS) said earlier it expected the storm to “slowly wind down today.”