NEW YORK: As a strong winter storm pummelling a large area extending from Pennsylvania to New England, the US north-east woke up under a blanket of snow on Monday, creating severe disruption in New York City and other major urban centres in the area.
According to the National Weather Service, the heavy nor’easter is expected to carry 1 to 2 feet of snow in the area through Tuesday, and during the storm’s peak, snowfall speeds could exceed 2 to 4 inches per hour.
If it achieves its maximum potential, it would be New York City’s first winter storm to generate more than 2 feet of snow since 2016, when, according to the weather service, a record-breaking blizzard dumped 27.5 inches on the most populous city in the country.
Across the north-east, winter storm warnings and weather advisories were in place. Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey declared a state of emergency on Sunday, suspending the entire day of public bus and commuter rail service on Monday.
In New York City, due to heavy snowfall and strong winds expected to batter the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio imposed restrictions on non-essential travel starting at 6 am on Monday. De Blasio also announced the suspension of in-person learning until Tuesday at the city’s public schools.
Later on Monday, the governor of the state, Andrew Cuomo, declared a state of emergency in the city and nine other counties due to the storm.
“This storm is no joke and right now the main concern is that this afternoon’s expected snowfall rate of 2 inches per hour creates an extremely dangerous situation on our roadways,” said Cuomo.
As Covid-19 vaccination locations and testing locations were forced to close or change their schedules, the stormy weather affected more than just roads and travel.
On Monday, all six vaccination mega-sites throughout New Jersey were closed and vaccine appointments at several state-run sites in the state of New York were rescheduled. At New York City public hospitals and health centres, vaccinations and testing were also suspended.
De Blasio said that on Tuesday, with the city facing up to 22 inches of snow, vaccinations would also be cancelled. He told a news conference, “The storm is disrupting our vaccination efforts and we need to keep people safe.”
Health officials in Boston announced the closing of the Covid-19 vaccine clinic at the Reggie Lewis Complex, a large indoor sports centre, on Monday.
But many north easterners welcomed with excitement the heavy snowfall, taking to social media to share photos of streets, parks and backyards blanketed with white things, as well as happy pets playing in the snow.