Blizzard slows Northeast travel to crawl - East Valley Tribune: News

Blizzard slows Northeast travel to crawl

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Posted: Saturday, January 22, 2005 4:40 pm | Updated: 8:51 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

NEW YORK - Travel was slowed to a crawl at best across wide areas of the Northeast on Sunday as a huge snowstorm whipped up blizzard conditions with wind gusting to 60 mph, making highways treacherous, canceling hundreds of airline flights and slowing trains.

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Massachusetts reported 2 feet of snow, with amounts of at least 20 inches in New York's Catskills and 18 inches in coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the National Weather Service said as much as 3 feet was possible in eastern Massachusetts. The weather system had earlier piled a foot of snow on parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and northern Ohio.

The stiff wind caused drifts up to 6 feet high in Massachusetts, poor visibility and scattered power outages. The weather service posted blizzard warnings into the afternoon in parts of New England, eastern New York state and northern New Jersey.

Rhode Island highway crews were "having a difficult time keeping up with the snow. They're starting to lose the battle," State Police Lt. Steve Lefebvre said Sunday.

Three deaths were linked to the weather in Ohio and two were blamed on the storm in Wisconsin.

Airports and their thousands of weekend travelers were hit hard by the blowing snow as hundreds of flights had to be canceled.

Boston's Logan International closed Sunday morning because of whiteout conditions, and snowplow crews were called back indoors at 3 a.m. Massport spokesman Phil Orlandella said there was no estimate when Logan would reopen.

"The wind is the problem," Orlandella said. "We're unable to get out there and plow."

Nearly 500 flights were canceled Sunday morning at the New York metropolitan area's Newark, Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, in addition to about 700 that were grounded Saturday, Port Authority officials said.

A cargo plane slid off a runway at Kennedy on Saturday, and two airplanes slid off taxiways Saturday in Pittsburgh. No injuries were reported.

Philadelphia's airport was shut down for several hours Saturday while crews worked to clear runways. Airport employees distributed pillows, blankets, disposable diapers and water to about 800 passengers who had to spend the night, said spokesman Mark Pesce said.

Nearly 600 flights were canceled Saturday at Chicago's O'Hare International.

The snow's ripple effects spread to Florida on Sunday. Fifty-five flights in and out of Miami International and 50 in and out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International were canceled Saturday because of the weather in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York and Washington. About 6,500 Fort Lauderdale travelers were affected.

Thousands of street and highway workers fought the drifts with plows and with trucks spreading salt and sand, and mayors and governors urged people to stay home.

Trains serving New York City's northern suburbs ran on reduced schedules because of snow and ice covering the electrified third rail, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.

But for people who didn't have to be anywhere in a hurry, the weather provided a respite.

"It slows down the city and blankets a lot of the unpleasantness," Maya Tudor, 29, said in New York City. "You never see New York this calm. It's an event."

"I enjoy it," said Vinnie Rocco, out shoveling snow early Sunday in Manhattan. "I'm like a little kid."

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