Winter storm hits Northeast, causing difficult driving, closed schools and canceled flights

It was the first major snowstorm in New York City since February 2022. More than 1,000 flights were canceled Tuesday morning

A pedestrian stands as the snow falls during a Nor'easter winter storm in New York City, U.S., February 13, 2024.
A pedestrian stands as the snow falls during a Nor'easter winter storm in New York City, U.S., February 13, 2024.ANDREW KELLY (REUTERS)

Parts of the Northeast were hit Tuesday by a snowstorm that canceled flights and schools and prompted warnings for people to stay off the roads, while some areas that anticipated heavy snow were getting less than that as the weather pattern changed.

More than 1,000 flights were canceled so far Tuesday morning, mostly at the airports in the New York City area and in Boston.

It was the first major snowstorm in New York City since February 2022. The city, which has the nation’s largest school system, switched to remote learning, but reported problems with the online system that prevented students from logging in Tuesday morning.

“It’s been a quiet winter, so it’s kind of welcoming,” said Ricky Smith, who was on his way to a construction job in the city. “I just hope nobody gets hurt.”

Mayor Eric Adams told New Yorkers not to underestimate the storm. “Let’s allow Mother Nature to do its thing,” he said. “The name of the game is to keep our roadways clear, and we’re hoping that people use public transportation or if they can stay home, please do so.”

Adams defended the decision to go to remote learning and not declare a snow day, amid criticism from students and parents.

“And so using this as a teaching moment to have our children learn how to continue the expansion of remote learning is so important,” the mayor told WPIX-TV. “We fell back in education because of COVID. We cannot afford our young people to miss school days.”

In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont ordered all executive branch office buildings closed to the public for the day.

“The timing of winter storm is of particular concern, especially considering that snowfall rates are expected to be heavy during the morning rush hour commute and continue through the afternoon,” Lamont said in a statement.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation temporarily reduced the speed limit on several interstates to 45 mph (72 kph) in the east-central region of the state because of the storm.

“Simply put, conditions are extremely poor,” The Doylestown Township Police Department posted. “Most roads are snow covered and slick. Please stay home unless absolutely necessary.”

Some of the highest snowfall totals, 8 inches (20 centimeters) or more, were forecast for parts of the northern suburbs of New York City, Connecticut, southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to the National Weather Service. Wind gusts could hit 60 mph (100 kph) off the Massachusetts coast and 40 mph (65 kph) in interior parts of southern New England.

Ahead of the storm, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey told all non-essential Executive Branch employees to not report to work Tuesday. Boston schools were closing and a parking ban was in effect. Similar closures and bans were put in place in other cities and towns. Emergency officials had equipment in place to help keep roads clear.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said the city’s homeless shelters would remain open.

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee signed an executive order shuttering state government offices Tuesday and banning tractor-trailer travel on all interstates and state roads beginning at midnight. McKee said he issued the tractor-trailer ban in coordination with Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York.

Airports in the region asked travelers to check with their airlines in case of cancellations and delays.

Power companies said they were preparing to respond to possible outages that could occur because of trees and branches falling onto electricity lines.

“The hazardous conditions can also make travel challenging for our crews, so we’re staging extra staff and equipment across the state to ensure we’re ready to respond as quickly as possible,” said Steve Sullivan, Eversource’s president of Connecticut electric operations.

At a news conference, New York City officials said that despite the snow predictions, they had no plans to relocate people from several large, heated tent shelter complexes built for thousands of homeless migrants.

In the South, flood watches covered much of Alabama and parts of central Georgia on Monday. Up to 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) of rain was expected in parts of Georgia and Alabama, the National Weather Service warned.

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