U.S. blizzard kills one; five-state emergency

A blizzard continued to pummel the Northeastern United States, disrupting thousands of flights, shutting down roads and mass transit and blanketing the region with heavy snowfall.

U.S. blizzard kills one; five-state emergency

World Bulletin/News Desk


A blizzard pummeled the Northeastern United States, killing at least one person, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and disrupting thousands of flights, media and officials said.

Forecasters warned of more heavy winds and snowfalls on Saturday, particularly near Boston, where up to 30 inches (76 cm) was expected in some areas, as well as in New York, Connecticut and Maine.

In the first death blamed on the blizzard, one man in his seventies was killed when a driver lost control of her car and hit him in Poughkeepsie, New York, media reported.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts lost power and automatically shut down during the storm late on Friday, but there was no threat to the public, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Winds reached 35 to 40 miles per hour (56 to 64 km per hour) by Friday afternoon and forecasters expected gusts up to 60 mph overnight.

The storm prompted the governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Maine to declare states of emergency.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick took the rare step of announcing a ban on most car travel starting Friday afternoon, while Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy closed the state's highways to all but emergency vehicles.

By Friday night some commuter trains that run between New York City and Westchester County, Long Island and Connecticut had already been suspended. Amtrak suspended railroad service between New York, Boston and points north on Friday afternoon.

In many cases, authorities ordered non-essential government workers to stay home, urged private employers to do the same, told people to prepare for power outages and encouraged them to check on elderly or disabled neighbors.

"People need to take this storm seriously," said Malloy, Connecticut's governor. "Please stay home once the weather gets bad except in the case of real emergency."

More than 160,000 lost power in Massachusetts, almost 200,000 in Rhode Island and 34,000 in Connecticut, according to local utilities.

Mass transit was also affected.

In New York City, transit officials said "suspensions in service remained a strong possibility," and Metro-North Railroad suspended some of its commuter rail service at 10 p.m.

The Long Island Rail Road partially suspended service on its Montauk branch.

Some 3,500 flights were canceled on Friday and more than 1,200 flights scheduled for Saturday were scratched, according to the website FlightAware.com.

"We're seeing heavier snow overspread the region from south to north," said Lance Franck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts, outside Boston. "As the snow picks up in intensity, we're expecting it to fall at a rate of upwards of two to three inches per hour."

Early Friday evening, officials warned that the storm was just ramping up to full strength, and that heavy snow and high winds would continue through midday on Saturday. The governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Maine declared states of emergency and urged people to stay indoors.

In many cases, authorities ordered non-essential government workers to stay home, urged private employers to do the same, told people to prepare for power outages and encouraged them to check on elderly or disabled neighbors.

People appeared to take the warnings seriously. Traffic on streets and ridership on public transportation was significantly lighter than usual on Friday.

"This is a very large and powerful storm, however we are encouraged by the numbers of people who stayed home today," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told reporters.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested the storm created an opportunity to relax and catch up on sleep.

Even so, the storm caused a few accidents, including a 19-vehicle pile-up outside Portland, Maine, that sent one person to the hospital.

LOOKING FOR SASQUATCH

The storm wasn't bad news for everyone.

When told an estimated 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) of snow was predicted overnight at Elk Mountain in Uniondale, Pennsylvania, pint-sized skier Sophia Chesner's eyes grew wide.

"Whoa!" said the 8-year-old from Moorestown, New Jersey, who was on a ski vacation with her family. Her sister, Giuliana, 4, said no matter how good the skiing was, she had other priorities once the snow piled up.

"First thing I'm going to do is build a snowman and look for a Sasquatch footprint," Guiliana Chesner said.

The storm posed a risk of flooding at high tide to areas still recovering from Superstorm Sandy last October.

"Many of the same communities that were inundated by Hurricane Sandy's tidal surge just about 100 days ago are likely to see some moderate coastal flooding this evening," said Bloomberg.

Brick Township in New Jersey had crews out building up sand dunes and berms ahead of a forecast storm surge, said Mayor Stephen Acropolis.

Travel became more difficult as the day progressed.

Amtrak suspended railroad service between New York, Boston and points north on Friday afternoon.

Organizers of the country's championship sledding race, which had been scheduled to get underway in Camden, Maine, on Saturday, postponed the event by one day. Some 400 teams were registered for the race, which features costumed sledders on a 400-foot (121-meter) chute.

"As soon as the weather clears on Saturday and it is safe, the toboggan committee will be out at Tobogganville cleaning up the chute as quickly as they can," said Holly Edwards, chairwoman of the U.S. National Toboggan Championships.

"It needs to be shoveled out by hand."

Last Mod: 09 Şubat 2013, 13:05
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