A potentially record-breaking snow storm brought the northeastern USA to a grinding halt and left nine dead. Thousands lost power amidst flight cancellations and a nuclear plant shutdown, as authorities declared states of emergency in five states. A blizzard dumped record snow of 97 centimetres (38 inches) in parts of Connecticut as it continued blowing through Boston and the rest of New England on Saturday. Life was returning to normal in New York City, where up to 31 centimetres (12 inches) of snow fell. New York airports reopened earlier Saturday, after being closed for nearly a day. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “We were very lucky. We avoided the worst of it”.
In neighbouring Massachusetts, snow tapered off in the afternoon after reaching around 60 centimetres (24 inches), and authorities lifted a state-wide ban on all driving after 24 hours. Instruments recorded wind gusts of 120 kilometres an hour (75 miles per hour) through the night at Boston’s Logan International Airport, which wasn’t expected to reopen before late Saturday. On Cape Cod, the hook-shaped Massachusetts peninsula jutting into the Atlantic, waves up to 6 metres (20 feet) high crashed onto beaches. Jane Miller, a resident of Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts, told reporters, “This has been like a hurricane with snow”. She said that the island was spared heavy snowfall, but surging tides prompted the local government and Red Cross to open a shelter at a high school for people living near the coast who wanted to evacuate. Coastal flooding was particularly bad along Massachusetts’ southern mainland coastline, a stretch that was also hit in the October hurricane-turned-superstorm Sandy. The US Postal Service suspended service in seven states.
In New York State, media reports said that a car that skidded out of control struck a female pedestrian, and a man died in a tractor rollover while clearing his driveway. A Massachusetts 12-year-old died of carbon-monoxide poisoning when he sat in the family car to warm up after helping his father shovel snow. Named Blizzard Nemo by the Weather Channel, the storm’s heavy snow and terrifically-high winds toppled trees, causing caused power outages for more than 600,000 people across Massachusetts, New York, Maine, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Some 400,000 blacked out electric customers were in Massachusetts alone, where the Boston Globe published a photo of total storm whiteout with the headline: “Blown Away”. Late Friday, power outages caused a shutdown of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth MA, according to a local radio station.
According to the National Weather Service, parts of Connecticut appeared to have received the heaviest snowfall, ranging up to 97 centimetres (38 inches) in Milford and 91 centimetres (36 inches) in other areas. The coastal town of Portland ME received a record 74 centimetres (29 inches) of snow. A news crew for CNN reported that the doors of their satellite truck had frozen shut overnight on Cape Cod, and it took them an hour to reopen them. Wind whipped snow drifts more than a metre (40 inches) high in Boston. A city worker told the DPA that it was the worst storm since 1978, when a 36-hour blizzard killed 100 people in Massachusetts and neighbouring Rhode Island. In the 1978 blizzard, hundreds of cars were stranded in the snow, and some drivers froze to death along interstate highways. More than 5,000 flights were cancelled since Friday, and, at its height, the storm shut down all rail traffic from Philadelphia to Boston. The governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and Maine declared states of emergency.
Prime News reported that Russian airlines Aeroflot and Transaero plan to maintain scheduled flights to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday despite anticipating huge snow falls from snow-storm Nemo. Nemo, which hit the northeastern USA on Friday evening, is expected to be one of the most powerful in the history of New York. Over 4,700 flights were cancelled across the USA due to the storm. Aeroflot said, “There’ve been no changes to our timetable”, whilst rival Transaero reported, “departure is expected as normal”, for its morning flight to New York. Meanwhile, the weather was also making life hard in Moscow, where pedestrians and drivers woke on Saturday to find the city covered in a slippery coat of glass-like ice after freezing rain fell overnight, causing accidents on several main highways into the capital.
New England braced on Thursday for a possibly record-setting winter storm, with forecasts of up to 2 feet (61 centimetres) of snow already causing airlines to cancel thousands of flights and utilities to prepare for power outages. The storm was blowing in from the Midwest where it began dropping snow on the Chicago area on Thursday afternoon. It was due to bring light snow to the Northeastern USA on Friday morning before ramping up to blizzard conditions by afternoon. Alan Dunham, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said, “This one doesn’t come along every day. This is going to be a dangerous winter storm. Wherever you need to get to, get there by Friday afternoon, and don’t plan on leaving”.
In Boston, which was expected to see some of the heaviest snowfall, on Friday, Mayor Thomas Menino ordered the city’s schools to close and urged businesses to consider allowing staff to stay home, to reduce the risk of commuters getting stranded. Menino told reporters, “We’re hardy New Englanders, let me tell you, and used to these types of storms. But I also want to remind everyone to use common sense and stay off the streets of our city. Basically, stay home. Stay put after noontime tomorrow”.
City officials up and down the northeastern USA were bracing for the storm, readying fleets of ploughs and salt trucks to keep streets clear, whilst airport officials advised travellers to try to reschedule flights ahead of the storm. The National Weather Service said Boston could get 18 to 24 inches of snow (46 to 61 centimetres) on Friday and Saturday, its first heavy snowfall in two years. Light snow is expected to begin falling around 07.00 EST (04.00 PST 12.00 UTC 16.00 MSK 23.00 AEST) on Friday, with heavier snow and winds gusting as high as 60 to 75 miles per hour (97 to 121 kilometres per hour) as the day progresses. Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton MA said, “It’s the afternoon rush-hour time frame into the evening and overnight when the height of the storm will be”. Cities from Hartford CT to Portland ME expected to see at least a foot (31 centimetres) of snow.
9 February 2013
Voice of Russia World Service
There was little disruption here in Albany NY, even though it’s at the geographical centre of the Northeast and it’s the transportation hub of the region (all major roads and trunk rail lines in the Northeastern USA converge on Albany). There was a snow emergency declared by Mayor Jerry Jennings, but he cancelled it before it took effect, as so little snow has fallen. We took a lovely motor through the lower Adirondacks this afternoon after services, and there was little snowfall as far north as Lake George (75 kilometres (46 miles) from Albany). The Lake George Winter Carnival was in full swing, with no problems due to the weather (the Carnival runs during the weekends of February… so, if you’re in the region, check it out). It was a fairly-comfy -5 (23 degrees Fahrenheit), with no biting winds (trust me… it can get MUCH more nastier than that in this neck of the woods; it was a balmy winter day by my lights). My Nicky bought a bumper sticker with three bears on it… so, it was a good adventure. No, we didn’t “suffer” in the least. We had no power outages, no heavy snows, and no disruption to normal life. We lucked out.