US braces for massive blizzard
Snow began to fall as a massive blizzard headed for the US north-east today, sending residents hurrying to stock up on food and supplies.
Forecasters say the storm could dump up to three feet of snow from New York City to Boston and beyond.
Even before the first snowflake had fallen, airlines scratched more than 3,700 flights until tomorrow. Boston and other towns and cities in New England and upstate New York closed schools.
“This one doesn’t come along every day. This is going to be a dangerous winter storm,” said Alan Dunham, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts. “Wherever you need to get to, get there by Friday afternoon and don’t plan on leaving.”
The heaviest snowfall was expected tonight and into tomorrow. Wind gusts could reach 75 mph. Widespread power failures were feared, with flooding in coastal areas still recovering from Superstorm Sandy in October.
Boston could get nearly three feet of snow, while New York City was expecting up to 12 inches. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said ploughs and 250,000 tons of salt were being put on standby.
Amtrak rail said its Northeast trains will stop running today.
The organisers of New York’s Fashion Week – a closely watched series of fashion shows held under a big tent – said they will have extra crews to help with snow removal and will turn up the heat and add an extra layer to the venue.
Airlines have cancelled 3,775 flights, according to airline tracking website FlightAware. At New York City’s three main airports, most domestic carriers planned to halt operations between 2pm and 5pm today, resuming after noon tomorrow.
At Boston’s Logan and other New England airports, most airlines were to cease operations between noon and 4 pm, and would restart tomorrow afternoon.
Blizzard warnings were posted for parts of New Jersey and New York’s Long Island, as well as portions of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, including Hartford, New Haven, Connecticut, and Providence. The warnings extended into New Hampshire and Maine.
In New England, it could prove to be among the top 10 snowstorms in history, and perhaps even break Boston’s record of 27.6 inches, set in 2003, the National Weather Service said. The last major snowfall in southern New England was well over a year ago – the Halloween storm of 2011.
Mr Dunham said southern New England has seen less than half its normal snowfall this season, but “we’re going to catch up in a heck of a hurry.” He added: “Everybody’s going to get plastered with snow.”
Some petrol stations in Connecticut ran out of fuel during the rush to prepare for the storm. Long lines were reported at many stations.
The governors of Connecticut and Massachusetts ordered non-essential state workers to stay at home today and urged travellers to stay home.
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