Massive snowstorm hits the U.S. east coast

 Tuesday, February 2, 2021 


A huge snowstorm has struck the U.S. east coast on Monday, grounding thousands of flights, shuttering vaccination sites and closing schools bringing New York City to a standstill. By Monday afternoon nearly 19in (48cm) of snow had already landed in parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and 17in (43cm) in New York City, possibly one of the heavies snowfalls ever recorded. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued storm warnings from Virginia to Maine, home to tens of millions of people as heavy snow along with wind gusts up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour spurred blizzard-like conditions along the eastern seaboard. It also compelled New York City and New Jersey to declare a state of emergency.

The state of emergency restricted all non-essential travel, moved all children back to remote learning and rescheduled long-awaited vaccine shots. Salt trucks and snow plows moved out across streets of New York that was already quieter than the usual due to the pandemic. More than 1,600 US flights were cancelled, mostly at airports in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington disrupting travel that has already been highly affected by COVID-19. Airlines also cancelled all flights in and out of LaGuardia Airport and JFK Airport, while 71 percent of flights were scrapped at Newark Liberty Airport. Wind gusts of up to 50mph (80km/h) have been forecasted for several days creating a blinding, blowing snow storm. The U.S. National Weather Service also said the storm will move up to New England, before coming down on Tuesday.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo declared state of emergency in 44 other counties alongside New York City. He said in a press statement that the situation is highly dangerous and life -threatening and warned people to expect closures as the condition is likely to get bad very quickly. In New Jersey, Governor Philip Murphy suspended the state’s bus and rail operations on Monday and allowed authorities to shut roads and evacuate homes. COVID-vaccination has been halted in Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Philadelphia, parts of Washington, DC and the New York area. In New York City vaccinations will be cancelled through to Tuesday, as Mayor de Blasio has announced it is unsafe for older residents to go outside in the blizzard conditions. The capital also pushed back a planned return to school for tens of thousands of children until Tuesday who have been learning at home for almost a year because of the pandemic.

Last week snow hit the west coast with some parts of California experiencing more than 6ft (2m) of snowfall. It then moved to the Midwest, dumping about eight inches of snow in Chicago, according to the NWS. In Washington DC, many have enjoyed the snow in front of the capital’s iconic landmarks. After a day of snow on Sunday, the winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service has been extended until Tuesday at midnight in the DC area. Freezing rain and sleet showers are expected through the day. According to an official, President Joe Biden met advisers to discuss a range of issues, including the approaching winter storm.

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