A historic snowstorm blasted its way through the Northeast Monday, threatening to wreak havoc in seven states, with thousands of flight cancellations, school closings and the prospects of up to 3 feet of snow and hurricane-force winds expected to impact over 40 million people.
New Jersey and Connecticut issued statewide road travel bans ahead of the brunt of the onslaught, dubbed Winter Storm Juno.
“We encourage citizens to stay in place during the duration of the storm,” said Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy. “We believe this will be a long duration cleanup.”
At least 7,500 flights into and out of the region were canceled through Wednesday. Amtrak service was suspended between New York and Boston for Tuesday, while other regional routes were to operate on reduced schedules. Strong winds had ConEd and other utility companies bracing for widespread power outages, with emergency repairs crews from Michigan and other areas already en route.
New York City took the rare step of banning all forms of travel due to the storm, grinding the city that never sleeps to a halt. Boston took similar measures. A blizzard warning was issued for both metropolitan areas.
“It’s dangerous out there now. It’s only going to become more dangerous,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday evening as he announced a total ban on travel on any road after 11 p.m. in 13 counties.
Central Park recorded more than 4 inches of snow by 7 p.m., when there was a lull in the snowfall. But the city was taking no chances.
“This will most likely be one of the largest blizzards in the history of New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The treacherous, 24-hour-plus snow odyssey was expected to be most severe late Monday and deep into Tuesday. AccuWeather senior meteorologist Tom Kines said Philadelphia, New York City and much of New England could see 1-2 feet of snow. Parts of central Massachusetts and central Connecticut could be hit by 2 to 3 feet, he said.
Wind gusts could reach 40-55 mph in many areas, with 60 mph or more possible along the coast, Kines said.
“Travel will be impossible. Forget about it on Tuesday,” Kines told USA TODAY. “The sun will come out Wednesday, and they all can start digging out.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie warned residents to stay inside.
“You should only go out in case of an absolute emergency or necessity,” Christie said. “We do not need people on the roadways. It makes it much more difficult to do our jobs. We would like to make Wednesday productive for everybody, and the only way for us to make Wednesday productive is for you to give us the opportunity to do our job on Tuesday and (Monday) evening.”
New Jersey state climatologist David Robinson said the storm could challenge the state record of 34 inches that dates back to February 1899.
New York City’s Department of Homeless Services activated its “Code Blue” winter weather emergency procedure, making it possible for homeless people to stay at any city shelter, regardless of which one they’re assigned to. The department said it would double the number of “outreach vans” on the streets overnight through Wednesday and said another 10 vans will be out finding homeless New Yorkers along the city’s subway system.
SOURCE: John Bacon and Gary Strauss