America Airlines – Live Updates of Northeast Snowstorm: NY, NJ, PA and More
A powerful winter storm pummeled much of the Northeastern United States on Monday, canceling flights, causing outdoor subway closures and disrupting travel for millions of people along the I-95 corridor.
In New York City, a forecast of up to two feet of snow by Tuesday could make the snowstorm one of the biggest in the city’s history. About six inches of snow had fallen as of Monday morning, according to Dominic Ramunni, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said that heavy snow would give way to icy, dangerous conditions on Tuesday and that in-person learning at city schools would be canceled until Wednesday. The storm was also hampering the city’s ability to deal with pandemic and the city postponed coronavirus vaccination appointments scheduled for Monday and Tuesday to later in the week.
“At the most intense points, you’re going to see two to four inches of snow per hour,” Mr. de Blasio said. “That’s extremely intense snow. That’s blinding snow. You do not want to be out if there’s any way to avoid it.”
On Sunday, Mr. de Blasio issued a local emergency declaration, barring most travel in the city starting at 6 a.m. on Monday except in cases of emergencies. Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey declared a state of emergency beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday and said most of New Jersey Transit’s bus and rail operations would be temporarily suspended on Monday because of the storm.
As of 10:45 a.m. on Monday, a band of heavy snow was developing over parts of Pennsylvania and into the early afternoon with a mix of sleet and freezing rain that was expected to change back to snow soon, according to the National Weather Service, with accumulations of 12 to 24 inches forecast for the northeastern part of the state, as well as northern portions of New Jersey. Wind gusts could reach up to 35 m.p.h. Areas in central New Jersey could see snow totals around 15 inches, the service said, making travel extremely difficult.
In Philadelphia, about two inches of snow had fallen in the early hours of Monday, with about five inches in the suburbs. Conditions across the area were expected to dramatically worsen as the day progressed, local meteorologists said, an by day’s end Philadelphia may have eight to 12 inches of snow. Areas around the city were expected to get over a foot and more than 18 inches of snow was possible in the Lehigh Valley and Poconos. A combination of heavy snow and strong winds up to 60 m.p.h. in some areas could create power outages.
In New England, blizzard-like conditions were forecast on Monday, meteorologists said. At noon, a wall of snow moved over the coastal areas of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut with snow falling at a rate of one two inches an hour. A foot was expected by the evening. Wind gusts up to 70 m.p.h. and moderate coastal flooding could occur.
By Monday evening, the snow will shift into Northern New England, according to the National Weather Service. Areas of rain and freezing rain could occur along the I-95 corridor from Washington to Philadelphia.
On Sunday, as much as three inches of snow fell across the Washington area, and forecasters predicted another inch or so on Monday.
Outdoor subway service in New York City will be suspended starting at 2 p.m. on Monday because of the snowstorm, officials said.
There were no immediate plans to pause underground service, but that could change, said Sarah E. Feinberg, the interim president of New York City Transit, which runs the city’s subway and buses.
“This is a dangerous, life-threatening situation,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said at a news conference on Monday. “And expect major closures, so you’re not surprised. And we don’t want anyone to be stranded in a location where they can’t get home again.”
The shut down will affect lines across the city and dozens of stations will be closed, mostly in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, according to a map shared by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Passengers will be required to disembark at the last underground station before the train goes above ground.
Southbound service on the F line will end in Brooklyn at the Jay Street-MetroTech station, for example. In Queens, the 7 line will end northbound service at Hunters Point Avenue. In the Bronx, northbound service on the 6 line will end at Hunts Point Avenue.
Patrick J. Foye, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the subway, buses and two commuter lines, said the Long Island Railroad would stop running between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., while the last Metro-North Railroad trains would leave Grand Central Terminal around 3 p.m.
PATH trains, which link Manhattan with New Jersey, would also stop running at 3 p.m., according to Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
The M.T.A. previously suspended above ground subway service — while keeping underground service running — during a blizzard in January 2016.
But the only time the whole subway system was closed because of a snowstorm was in 2015, when Mr. Cuomo ordered it shut down at 11 p.m. on Jan. 26. The announcement caught transit workers by surprise and they were forced to scramble to bring the vast network to a halt within hours.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he found out about the closure when the public did. And the storm largely spared the city; the subway started to slowly reopen the next day, though the closure had disrupted the city’s economic life.
The subway was also closed in August 2011 ahead of Tropical Storm Irene and in 2012 ahead of Hurricane Sandy.
In the spring, officials decided to halt regularly scheduled overnight service for the first time in the M.T.A.’s history, shutting the system down from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to disinfect trains, equipment and stations during the pandemic.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said on Monday that coronavirus vaccinations scheduled for Tuesday would be postponed because of the winter storm, the second day in a row that they have been delayed.
Heavy snow was also complicating vaccination efforts in Washington, Philadelphia, New Jersey and elsewhere.
At a news conference on Monday, Mr. de Blasio of New York City said he did not want older residents traveling to vaccine appointments amid blizzard-like conditions with gusty winds.
“Based on what we are seeing right now, we believe tomorrow, getting around the city will be difficult,” Mr. de Blasio said. “It will be icy, it will be treacherous.”
He said he believed the city could quickly make up the appointments later in the week.
“We have a vast amount of capacity; we don’t have enough vaccine,” he said. “We’ll simply use the days later in the week, crank up those schedules, get people rescheduled into those days.”
The storm will temporarily derail a vaccine rollout that has been plagued by inadequate supply, buggy sign-up systems and confusion over the New York State’s strict eligibility guidelines. The vaccine is available to residents 65 and older as well as a wide range of workers designated “essential.”
About 800,000 doses have been administered so far in the city, Mr. de Blasio said.
Vaccine appointments originally scheduled for Monday at several sites in the region — the Javits Center in Manhattan, the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, a drive-through site at Jones Beach in Long Island, SUNY Stony Brook and the Westchester County Center — would be rescheduled for this week, according to a statement from Melissa DeRosa, a top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. “We ask all New Yorkers to monitor the weather and stay off the roads tomorrow so our crews and first responders can safely do their jobs,” she said.
In the Philadelphia area, city-run testing and vaccine sites were closed on Monday. Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island and parts of the Washington, D.C., area were following suit. Some areas away from the center of the storm were expected to remain open for vaccinations, including parts of Massachusetts and upstate New York.
The advancing snowstorm throttled travel across the Northeast on Monday, prompting the cancellation of hundreds of flights across the region.
At Philadelphia International Airport, which reported 100 cancellations and 20 delays on Monday morning, “inclement weather operations are in full swing,’’ said Florence Brown, an airport spokeswoman. Both of the airport’s primary runways were open, she said, and “ground crews are preparing for the next round of snow in Philadelphia this afternoon.”
At Boston Logan International Airport, there were nearly 200 cancellations and about 10 delays on Monday, said an airport spokeswoman.
In New York City, a state of emergency restricted nonessential travel on Monday, and Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said on Sunday that most of New Jersey Transit’s bus and rail operations would be temporarily suspended because of the storm.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Monday that there could be partial closures of major thoroughfares or aboveground subway lines. “Plows cannot keep up with the rate of snow,” he said.
Long Island Railroad service on Monday will operate on a weekend schedule; MetroNorth service will end early. At the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, which describes itself as the “busiest bus terminal in the world,” all bus service will be suspended on Monday.
On the roads, tandems and empty trailers were banned on parts of Interstates 87 and 84 as of 5 a.m. Monday. Restrictions were also in effect for areas of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, including reduced speeds of 45 m.p.h.
Travel along and west of the Interstate 95 corridor from Pennsylvania to Maine will quite likely be affected, the National Weather Service said.
What the airlines are saying:
American Airlines “proactively cancelled 245 total flights” on Monday and issued a travel alert for 28 airports because of the winter weather in the Northeast, said Whitney Zastrow, a spokeswoman for the airline. “If a customer chooses not to fly due to the impacts of this storm, American will waive change fees for future travel,’’ she said.
On Sunday, Delta canceled 340 of its Monday flight nationwide “to give plenty of notice to customers, with the vast majority already being rebooked for other flights,’‘ said Martha Whitt, an airline spokeswoman.
United Airlines canceled about 380 flights on Monday because of winter storms, according Leslie Scott, a spokeswoman.
Some National Weather Service models indicated that up to two feet of snow could fall in New York City, making it one of the heaviest snowstorms in the city’s history.
The highest total snowfall came over three days in January 2016, when 27.5 inches of snow fell in Central Park, with 27.3 inches falling on Jan. 23, a daily record, according to the Weather Service. The second highest occurred in February 2006, with 26.9 inches of snow.
The fifth highest was in February 2010, when 20.9 inches fell.
The city has seen storms drop 20 or more inches of snow only seven times since the mid-1800s, according to the Weather Service.
Dominic Ramunni, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said on Monday that forecasts predicted “upwards of 20 inches for the city,” with snowfall picking up in the early afternoon.
He said the most snow would likely fall in the northwest part of the New York region, including northeast New Jersey and the lower Hudson Valley, while less snow would fall toward Long Island and the east.
Wind gusts could reach 45 miles per hour, potentially creating “blizzard-like” conditions, said Deanne Criswell, the city’s emergency management commissioner.
Officials and utilities warned of falling trees and widespread power outages across the region.
As inches of snow piled up during Washington’s biggest winter storm in two years, there was one place without any snowball fights.
The Capitol grounds, one of the best spots in the city for sledding, are now off limits, another reverberation of the rampage there on Jan. 6.
Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting House delegate, had urged the Capitol Police to allow the tradition to continue. The activity could be done safely, Ms. Norton said in a statement on Saturday, “by allowing only children and adults accompanied by children” into the area.
But a Capitol Police spokeswoman, Eva Malecki, citing the current security concerns and the city’s coronavirus restrictions, said it could not be permitted. “We, however, look forward to welcoming sledders back in the future,” she said in a statement.
While a rule against sledding on the Capitol grounds has been in place for decades, it was rarely enforced until after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Ms. Norton has pushed for sledding to be allowed on the grounds for years, routinely adding a provision to the annual federal spending bill to “forbear enforcement” of the ban mentioned on Page 175 of the Capitol Police regulations. She first succeeded in slipping the pro-sledding provision into the omnibus spending bill in 2016. (“Go for it!” she told the city’s residents after the ban was lifted that year.)
The previous year, Washingtonians held a “snow-in” at the complex to protest the rule.
The ban has been revived at another moment of heightened tensions. Instead of children making snowmen and snow angels, visitors to the Capitol complex these days are greeted by seven-foot-tall, unscalable fencing that went up after the riot.
Blizzard is a colloquialism that is often used when there is a significant winter storm.
But certain conditions must be met for a storm to qualify as a blizzard; the distinction is not based solely on snowfall.
The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm that has sustained wind gusts that exceed 35 miles per hour for at least three hours, along with blowing snow limiting visibility to less than a quarter-mile. On Monday morning, the agency had not yet categorized the storm as a blizzard. The website described the storm as a “powerful nor’easter,” with “heavy snow, gusty winds, near blizzard conditions and coastal impacts” very likely.
Meteorologists said that Monday’s winter storm might drop more than two inches of snow an hour in some areas, and that it appeared to have the hallmarks of a blizzard.
A nor’easter is a broad term used for storms that move along the Eastern Seaboard with winds that are typically from the northeast and that blow over coastal areas, according to the National Weather Service.
They can form at different times of the year.
This storm developed when an area of low pressure over the Ohio Valley, which brought snow to the Lower Great Lakes and northern Mid-Atlantic, passed the baton to a nor’easter forming off the East Coast, the Weather Service said.
This week’s winter storm is part of a pattern caused by disturbances to the upper-atmosphere phenomena known as the polar vortex that can send icy blasts from the Arctic into the middle latitudes, chilling Europe, Asia and parts of North America. The disturbance and its effects have persisted for an unusually long time this year, said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, with two disruptions of the polar vortex so far this year and, potentially, a third on the way.
Research into the interplay of the complex factors that bring on blasts from the polar vortex is ongoing, but climate change appears to be part of the mix. While warming means milder winters overall, “the motto for snowstorms in the era of climate change could be ‘go big or go home!’” said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a company that provides information to clients about weather and climate-related risk.
The United States has already seen heavy snowfall in the Sierra Nevada and in the Great Plains in the past week. Last month, Madrid was buried under a paralyzing foot and a half of snow, and parts of Siberia suffered an unusually lengthy cold spell with temperatures of 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit — and one area recorded a temperature of nearly 73 below. (Last summer, some of the same areas experienced record heat.)
The wild weather has its origins in the warming Arctic. The region is warming faster than the rest of the planet, and research suggests that the rising temperatures are weakening the jet stream, which encircles the pole and generally holds in that frigid air. In early January, a surge of sudden warming hit the polar stratosphere, the zone five to thirty miles above the surface of the planet.
When one of those “sudden stratospheric warmings” happens, it delivers a punch to the polar vortex that can cause the Arctic air to shift and to make its way down through the atmosphere to people who suddenly need to layer up and break out their shovels.
This Groundhog Day will not be at all like the others.
As far back as 1900, The New York Times was already referring to this annual “hoary superstition” as a tradition.
Like clockwork, the event draws the curious and worldwide attention. Will a portly groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow? The feeling that this may never change was accelerated by a popular 1993 movie starring Bill Murray as a weatherman who is “inexplicably living the same day over and over again” as he covered the annual festivity in Punxsutawney, a bucolic borough in western Pennsylvania about 300 miles west of Midtown Manhattan.
Change does not come easy to this part of the world. Until, that was, the coronavirus pandemic.
The event will proceed on Tuesday in Punxsatawney, but it will be held virtually. The organizers of the event, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, said in a recorded message that “No in-person attendance or guests will be allowed on the ground.”
As for the massive snowstorm burying parts of the Northeast, organizers are, for now, forging ahead. Gobbler’s Knob, the groundhog’s home turf, will be closed on Monday at 5 p.m. but will reopen on Tuesday by 9 a.m. The livestream will begin that day at 6:30 a.m.
That dispatch was, itself, a hybrid of modernity and antiquity. It was posted on Instagram. But the words were printed on a sign, held by a man.
Winter storms typically leave office-bound companies in a scramble with workers unable to get to work. This year brings a new twist: The coronavirus pandemic has prepared more people than ever to work from home.
Now, for those who have been working from home for months, a snow day is just another day. The logistics have already been sorted out, making it easier for employers to weather the storm.
In previous years, more workers may have been required to take a treacherous drive into the office, which could be stressful at best and life-threatening at worst. If workers stayed home, they may not have had the technology or the communication systems set up to efficiently continue their tasks.
“A lot of people are going to realize remote work is a little more seamless in these types of events, whereas historically it would have been a bigger deal,” said Sara Sutton, the chief executive of FlexJobs, a job board for remote workers.
But the move to remote work also brings a new risk: Workers can’t do much if the power goes out. Office buildings and other professional environments often have backup generators to guard against power outages, but many homes and apartment buildings do not. The outages expected in the Northeast because of the storm threaten to knock workers offline.
Ms. Sutton suggested having a backup plan ready to stay connected through power outages. It could include going to a friend’s house where there is still power, or having multiple ways available to get online.
Many phones allow users to create a hot spot that can connect a computer to the internet. But beware: It will chew through phone data quickly. Mobile hot spots are another option.
Among people whose jobs can be done from home, 71 percent said they were working from home all or most of the time, according to a Pew Research Center survey from December.
As a major winter storm buries much of the Northeast in snow Monday and into Tuesday, many students are missing out on one of the great joys of winter: the snow day.
Instead, major school districts are pressing ahead with online instruction and expect their students to log on from home as the snow piles up outside.
Replacing snow days with remote learning is a bonus for school districts that are trying to make up for the days of instruction already lost to the coronavirus pandemic, but a loss to families who think a snow day is just the kind of pre-Covid treat children need.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio has called snow days a “thing of the past.” So despite the declaration of a state of emergency on Monday, students in New York City public schools are expected to log on as usual.
That was the case for most major cities in the storm’s path: public school students in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Providence, R.I., and Boston, were all expected to show up for class online, though in Boston their days were cut slightly shorter.
Some students, however, will get to play in the snow. The Archdiocese of New York canceled classes for all of its Catholic elementary schools, and said it will make up for the loss of instruction later in the year. A snow day in the traditional sense, Superintendent Michael J. Deegan said, gives an opportunity for “children to be children.”
“There is something undeniably therapeutic about spending time with family while the snow falls,” he said in a statement. “We are happy to know our teachers are enjoying time with their families as well.”
In Delaware, the Christina School District also canceled classes, telling families in an announcement to, “Heat up the hot chocolate, pull out the snow boots and get ready for an exciting escape from school work.”