ABC New(NEW YORK) — Snow has started to blanket cities across the Northeast Tuesday morning in what could turn out to be one of the most severe blizzards of the year.
Major cities and suburban areas, from Philadelphia to Boston, could get between 10 and 20 inches of snow, forecasters said.
Blizzard warnings have been issued in parts of eight states in the densely populated Northeast, causing thousands of school cancellations and halting work and travel for millions of Americans. Five states — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania — have declared states of emergency.
New York learned its lesson
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that while the situation is “so far, so good” in New York City, the state is going to be hit hard.
“What’s problematic for us is that it is a statewide situation. Normally in New York, it’s such a big state geographically that it’s either one end of the state or the other. This is statewide so we can’t really deploy from one end of the state to the other,” he told Good Morning America Tuesday.
As for New York City, however, Cuomo said, “We did get ahead of it, which is basically the trick.”
Schools in New York City are closed Tuesday, above-ground subway train lines are closed, and city buses are expected to be suspended later Tuesday morning if the snow continues to fall at the same rate as it is now.
“There’s a rate of snowfall that you can’t keep up with. When the rate of snowfall is about 3 inches an hour, you can’t keep up with it…you adjust,” Cuomo said.
“We learned the hard way. We’ve had our share of extreme weather over the past few years so we have staffed up the emergency operation,” he said.
Travel largely out of the question
Thousands of flights in and around the Northeast have been cancelled. As of 6 a.m. ET, more than 5,400 flights had been cancelled into or out of the United States Tuesday.
Newark International Airport in New Jersey had the most cancellations with 1,014, followed by 846 flights cancellations at New York City’s LaGuardia, and 811 flights at Boston’s Logan Airport.
As of 2:30 a.m. ET, 2,932 schools across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast corridor were scheduled to close or have delayed openings. Schools in New Hampshire and Massachusetts were impacted the most, with 914 and 630 closings or delays scheduled, respectively.
Cuomo cited school and airport closures as reasons why people should stay off the roads.
“It’s just there’s no reason to be on the roads. It’s extraordinarily dangerous,” he said.
The snow is expected to make many roads impassable and could produce widespread power outages due to the weight of the snow on tree limbs and power lines, the National Weather Service said.
The service warned people in the affected areas to stay inside.
“Visibilities will become poor with whiteout conditions at times. Those venturing outdoors may become lost or disoriented,” NWS said in a statement early Tuesday. “So persons in the warning area are strongly advised to stay indoors.”
The storm comes just days before the official start of Spring on March 20.
Damage in the Midwest
The weather system dumped a swath of snow on parts of the Midwest before moving east across the country on Monday.
Icy road conditions in Chicago, Illinois, led to two car wrecks early Tuesday that involved 34 vehicles.
Seven people were transported to local hospitals with minor injuries as a part of those incidents, which occurred on the Kennedy Expressway, officials said.
Separately, four men died while removing snow in southeast Wisconsin, where snowfall topped 12 inches in some areas. The men were all between the ages of 64 and 76, according to ABC News affiliate WISN.
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