Air travel across the U.S. Northeast ground to a near-halt on Monday as a winter storm threatened to pound New York and Boston with howling winds and up to 60 centimetres of snow.
All too aware that big snowstorms can make or break politicians, governors and mayors moved quickly to declare emergencies and order the shutdown of highways, streets and mass transit systems to prevent travellers from getting stranded and to enable plows and emergency vehicles to get through.
The storm, dubbed Juno by the U.S. weather service, will be spilling into the Maritimes as early as Monday night.
Air travel: More than 2,600 flights were cancelled Monday, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware, with 3,200 more Tuesday.
New York: State of emergency declared; city roads to be closed to non-emergency vehicles after 11 p.m.
Maritimes: Environment Canada issues winter-storm warnings in the Maritime provinces, expects storm to land later tonight and Tuesday
Follow the forecast
A blizzard warning is in effect for New York and Boston, and the National Weather Service said the storm would bring heavy snow and powerful winds starting Monday and into Tuesday.
“This could be a storm the likes of which we have never seen before,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Sunday. De Blasio held up a piece of paper showing the city’s top 10 snowstorms and said this one could land at the top of a list that goes back to 1872.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency and urged commuters to stay home on Monday. Similarly, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy ordered a travel ban on his state’s highways, while officials in other states asked residents to avoid going anywhere unless it is necessary.
Snow clearing: De Blasio said the Sanitation Department had scheduled 12-hour shifts, with 2,400 employees on each shift, working from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. The sanitation commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, said that 2,000 plows from her agency would be available, along with 242 from other agencies.
Transportation: All city buses will be equipped with snow tires or chains by Monday afternoon, according to statement from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Both the governor and the mayor acknowledged that public transportation could be slowed or halted. Meanwhile, Greater New York Taxi Association offered free cab service for emergency responders trying to get to work, and disabled and elderly residents who become stranded. Subways, which carry 5.5 million riders daily, will run on a normal schedule until about 8 p.m., when service will be curtailed to allow subway cars and equipment to be stowed.
Homelessness: The city’s Office of Emergency Management says it would be ready to open temporary shelters.
Closings: Schools and businesses let out early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets. Broadway stages went dark. Schools are likely to close on Tuesday, de Blasio said.
In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker warned residents to prepare for roads that are “very hard, if not impossible, to navigate,” power outages and possibly even a lack of public transportation.
Boston is expected to get 45 to 60 centimetres of snow, the U.S. weather service said.
The city's Logan International Airport said there would be no flights after 7 p.m. Monday, and did not expect to resume flights until late Wednesday.
The Washington area expected only a few centimetres, with steadily increasing amounts as the storm heads north.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who is travelling in India, has been briefed on the storm, spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday. White House officials also have been in touch with officials from states “up and down the Eastern seaboard” that are in the storm’s path, Earnest said.
Snow is forecast to begin in southwest Nova Scotia, with 15 to 25 centimetres falling before turning to rain Tuesday evening.
In New Brunswick, Environment Canada says 15 to 30 centimetres are expected for most of the province.
Newfoundland can expect some stormy weather on Tuesday into Wednesday, with much of the island seeing between seven and 15 centimetres of snow and some regions expecting ice pellets or freezing rain, Environment Canada says.
Deflated hopes for football
The New York Rangers decided to practice Monday afternoon at the Islanders’ home arena on Long Island instead of at their own training facility just outside New York City. They’ll stay overnight on Long Island for Tuesday’s game against their rival – if it’s still held.
The Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots expected to be out of town by the time the storm arrives in Boston. The team plans to leave Logan Airport at 12:30 p.m. Monday for Phoenix.
With reports from Associated Press, Reuters, The Canadian Press, The New York Times and Globe staff
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