Blizzard shuts down the Northeast

Updated

The blizzard that was expected to cause crippling damage throughout the East Coast by Wednesday instead parked itself in the eastern sections of New England, including southeastern Massachusetts, and all the way up to coastal Maine. 

“I lean toward safety because I would rather be where we are today, than the opposite and talking about a loss of life.”
New York City Gov. Andrew Cuomo
By Tuesday evening, Worcester County in Massachusetts had topped 33 inches of snow — a tremendous amount but still short of the 40 inches earlier forecasts predicted for the area. By the afternoon, more than 14,000 people were left in the dark without power in Massachusetts, where residents experienced whiteout conditions, and flooding remained a major concern. Up to 4 inches of snow fell per hour in parts of the Northeast in the early morning, as the storm, nicknamed “Juno,” brought typically bustling cities to an eerie standstill.

There were reports Tuesday of drivers pulling over on interstate highways in Massachusetts to clean off their windshields. During a Tuesday morning press conference, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker warned residents, that’s “not a good idea,” and instead asked them to stop on back roads. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority did not expect to resume service on Tuesday, Baker said during an afternoon news conference.

Meanwhile, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh canceled public school through at least Wednesday. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also canceled Tuesday classes.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, parts of Rhode Island near Providence reported snowfall totals of more than 24 inches. Earlier in the day, Gov. Gina Raimondo told msnbc’s Andrea Mitchell that “visibility is terrible,” and said residents were experiencing winds of up to 50 mph. “Nobody likes to be inconvenienced for a day, but we can’t have anyone’s life at risk,” she said about keeping her state’s travel ban in place.

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Some signs emerged of snow letting up in Connecticut, as Gov. Dannel Malloy lifted the state’s travel ban as of 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Meanwhile in the New York region, residents were spared compared to their northern counterparts. By Tuesday morning, the accumulation in the city reportedly was 8-to-12 inches of snow. “We are lucky. Things turned out a lot better than we feared,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a late-morning press conference.

New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted the travel ban for New York Tuesday, except for Suffolk County on Long Island, where a blizzard warning was downgraded to a winter storm warning, set to be in effect until midnight. The Long Island Expressway – sometimes called “the world’s biggest parking lot” – was eerily empty on Tuesday morning. At least one death was reported on Long Island, where a 17-year-old died in a sledding accident. The town of Orient led New York’s snowfall accumulation with 29 inches.

Public transportation in the city resumed at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The subway, Long Island Railroad, and Metro-North Railroad reopened by operating on a Sunday schedule, which is about 60% of regular service, Cuomo said. “We took the right preparations last night, and I feel good about that,” Cuomo added. “I lean toward safety because I would rather be where we are today, than the opposite and talking about a loss of life and people stranded on roads for 24 hours.” The roads are open and passable, but residents still need to take caution if they are driving, he added.

An easier-than-normal cleanup of the city’s streets could be credited to residents’ adherence of the travel ban before midnight on Monday, ahead of the worst expected timeline for the storm. Sources told msnbc’s Jane Timm that 2,400 employees worked 12-hour shifts, driving plow trucks nonstop through the city. Many of the workers live outside of Manhattan, and were napping in the garage above where the plow trucks are stored before heading out for an eight-hour shift. During previous storms, sanitation employees experienced difficulty plowing because many people abandoned their vehicles while attempting to travel during dangerous conditions.

By late morning Tuesday, the streets were largely cleaned, and residents began exiting their houses to travel to work, complete errands, or enjoy a day off from school. “Even though we didn’t see the worst, it’s still very cold out there, it’s still very slippery. Driving around, you do need to take precautions,” de Blasio said at the press conference.
 
The New York Stock Exchange originally told employees to stay at home on Tuesday, but business as usual ultimately resumed before the opening bell. The city’s parks reoponed at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Schools will be in session on Wednesday.
 
Northeast hit with Blizzard of 2015
NYC is now in a winter storm warning, lifted from a previous blizzard warning that took effect on Monday.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie lifted the overnight travel ban by 7:30 a.m. Bridges in New York and New Jersey also reopened.
 
Earlier Tuesday, Malloy told msnbc’s “Morning Joe” that power outages weren’t a major problem in his state. Eleven accidents happened overnight, and one resulted in injuries, he added. Some roads reopened by 10 a.m.

Late Monday night, public transit shut down across the East Coast, where city officials issued states of emergencies in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. 

The National Weather Service previously said Juno would affect an estimated 29 million people over a 250-mile area from New Jersey to Maine. Meteorologists expected the storm to cause coastal flooding and reach wind speeds up to 70 mph.

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Airlines canceled nearly 8,000 inbound and outbound flights. Only about a few dozen people had to spend Monday night at La Guardia Airport in New York, NBC News’ Luke Russert reported. But the scene was different at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where as many as 300 international travelers were stranded after airlines canceled their flights, NBC’s Tom Costello reported. Flights might not be restored until midday on Wednesday. Amtrak canceled service north of New York.

The Super-Bowl bound New England Patriots successfully flew out of Logan International Airport in Boston on Monday and landed in Phoenix, Arizona. They will face off against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL’s biggest game on Sunday in Glendale, Arizona.

The U.S. Postal Service suspended service for Tuesday in some areas between the New Jersey shore and Maine.

The storm’s effects were felt as far south as the nation’s capital, where the House of Representatives canceled voting Monday night. Likewise, the Senate postponed a Foreign Relations Committee hearing for Wednesday.

NBC News contributed to this report.

Blizzard of 2015 and Weather

Blizzard shuts down the Northeast

Updated