Snowstorm slams Eastern US, killing 8 and knocking out power
INDIANAPOLIS — A strong wintry storm still was dumping snow Friday in far northern New England after creating traffic havoc that claimed at least eight lives across the country’s eastern half and knocked out power for tens of thousands of people.
A mix of rain, snow and ice that initially hit the Midwest caused headaches from the South to the Northeast, leaving up to a foot of snow in some parts of the latter and widespread freezing rain and ice accumulations elsewhere. Conditions prompted school closures, hours-long delays for commuters and hundreds of flight cancellations.
More than 400,000 customers were without power Friday morning in 17 states from Kentucky to Maine, according to poweroutage.us, in part due to freezing rain.
The storm brought the Northeast its first significant snow and ice accumulations of the season and was lingering Friday afternoon in New Hampshire and Maine.
The wintry weather contributed to traffic crashes that killed people in several states, authorities said.
A 60-year-old woman died Thursday in Miami County, Indiana, after she lost control of her vehicle and crashed in slick road conditions, the state’s police said.
One person was also killed Thursday in Canton, Ohio, and another in Maryland, police said.
In Mississippi, a tour bus crashed Wednesday, killing two people and wounding several others. The bus, carrying 46 people, was traveling from Huntsville, Alabama, to Tunica, Mississippi, Sgt. Joseph Miller of the Mississippi Highway Patrol said.
The other occupants were taken to area hospitals with various injuries, Miller said. The cause of the crash was weather-related.
Arkansas Highway Patrol reported two separate incidents in which three people were killed after drivers lost control of cars on icy roads.
Traffic nightmare, airport delays in New York area
For hours Thursday, crashes left drivers stuck on the George Washington Bridge, which connects Upper Manhattan and northern New Jersey.
New Jersey State Police responded Thursday to 555 motor vehicle crashes and helped 1,027 motorists, the agency said.
“If you don’t have to go out, please stay home so road crews can treat the roads,” police said. “If you have to go out, please drive slowly and allow for more time to get where you are going.”
The storm generally snarled traffic Thursday evening in the New York City area, with about 6 inches of snow accumulating around Central Park and in Newark, New Jersey, the National Weather Service said.
More than 8,000 flight delays and 1,900-plus cancellations were reported Thursday in the United States, flight-tracking site FlightAware.com reported. Newark Liberty International appeared the most affected, with more than 470 cancellations and more than 340 delays for flights to or from that site.
Scores of would-be passengers stood in line for hours Thursday night and Friday morning at a Newark airport terminal, waiting to adjust travel arrangements, traveler Pankaj Trivedi said.
“Bring more staff to help. There are many seniors & kids,” Trivedi posted on Twitter, along with pictures of the lines.
US flight delays (2,252) and cancellations (596) were fewer on Friday morning, according to FlightAware.com.
The weather also forced long waits Thursday night at Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal. The terminal, near Times Square, was packed with commuters waiting for buses that struggled to access the site.
Ajoy Singha said it took him four hours to get from Manhattan to his home across the Hudson River in Jersey City, starting with a lengthy wait at the bus terminal. He ended up abandoning the terminal to take a PATH train and an Uber ride home, he said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the strength of the snowstorm took the city by surprise.
“We’re going to be more conservative going forward, but the real key here is, had we had better (forecast) information, we would have told people to stay home and cleared the roads,” de Blasio told NY1 on Friday morning.
“But in the end, there’s also going to be times when Mother Nature is just stronger than us, and sometimes we’re going to be playing catchup. And this was certainly one of those times.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday the storm was a “regional nightmare,” and state Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti offered “our apologies to all of our New Jerseyans who last night experienced a really rough commute home.”
“We got behind the storm. I realize that,” she said.
Students forced to wait in schools
In Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, some school buses couldn’t get students all the way home Thursday because of road closures and “unsafe travel conditions.”
Drivers were forced to take them back to schools in the Elizabeth Area School District, where they were kept in a “shelter-like environment” until parents could pick them up.
The schools operated on a 2-hour delay Friday, the district said.