NEW YORK — New York City and Philadelphia have been spared the worst of a nor’easter, but the storm was walloping other parts of the region with heavy snow and high winds. Millions of people were still in the path of blizzard conditions.
The storm brought chaos to travel and daily life, with about 8,800 US flights canceled between Monday and Wednesday and thousands of schools closed. Connecticut banned highway travel for several hours Tuesday, and some major regional rail traffic was suspended. At least three weather-related deaths were reported.
Normalcy trickled back as some train services and flights resumed Tuesday evening. But a blizzard warning remained in effect for parts of Pennsylvania, upstate New York and most of New England. The warning affected nearly 5 million people, the National Weather Service said.
Winter storm warnings and watches have been hoisted over a region stretching from Ohio and West Virginia into Maine. Local and state authorities warned residents to be prepared and to avoid unnecessary travel as winds in some coastal areas could hit 50 mph to 60 mph, reducing visibility to zero.
More than 20 inches of snow have been reported in parts of upstate New York, and similar amounts could drop in northeastern Pennsylvania and parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, as the storm moved north into New England, weather models showed.
Heavier snow inland, coastal flooding
Upstate New York had the heaviest snow by early afternoon Tuesday, with more than 20 inches reported near East Jewett, southwest of Albany.
Commuter buses in Pennsylvania and New York canceled service in advance of the storm.
Dr. Marie Keith, who works in New York and lives in the Scranton area, boarded the last bus Monday night leaving for New York City.
“There may be sick kids I need to see in my office tomorrow, so I thought I should be there,” she told CNN affiliate WNEP-TV.
About 13 inches of snow had been reported in northern New Jersey’s Ringwood borough, the National Weather Service said.
Along the New Jersey coast, strong winds pushed ocean water into neighborhoods. Moderate coastal flooding was expected, the weather service said. A video posted by Chris Macaluso showed flooding in Atlantic City.
Early Tuesday evening, Gov. Chris Christie lifted New Jersey’s state of emergency.
Parts of western Massachusetts could receive 24 inches or more along with powerful winds. Coastal Massachusetts could feel wind gusts of up to 55 mph, and high storm surges are possible.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said the city received about 6 to 8 inches by Tuesday afternoon.
“This isn’t what we expected. We expected up to 18 inches of snow,” Walsh told reporters.
A snow emergency had been declared in the city, meaning vehicles will be towed if they are parked on roads marked as snow emergency arteries.
Walsh said the storm was expected to continue with high winds, turning into sleet and rain into the night.
“We have less snow on the ground [than expected], but the conditions are as if we are getting 20 inches of snow. The snow is coming down sideways, so it’s still a dangerous storm,” he said.
Walsh said city public schools will remain closed on Wednesday, but city offices will reopen.
Nearly 68,000 customers in Massachusetts were without power, according to the state’s Emergency Management Agency.
State emergency management officials said winds of more than 70 mph were reported in several coastal communities, and conditions are expected to continue into the evening. Wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph were recorded over inland parts of the state.
In Connecticut, a statewide ban on highway travel that went into effect at 5 a.m. ended at about 5 p.m.
“Wherever you are at sunrise Tuesday morning, expect to remain there throughout the remainder of the storm and into (Tuesday) night,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said, adding there were exceptions for certain professionals such as first responders.
The Hartford area could get up to 17 inches of snow and sleet, the weather service warned
In parts of Vermont, southern New Hampshire and southern Maine, more than 20 inches of snow were possible.
NY, Philly: Sleet thwarts heavier snowfall
In New York and Philadelphia, blizzard warnings were canceled as more sleet or freezing rain fell than expected. Early Tuesday afternoon, Philadelphia lifted its snow emergency declaration, which meant parking would be allowed on snow emergency routes.
The precipitation and wind still had its effects on travel: The New York area’s three major airports saw most of their flights canceled.
About 4 inches of snow had fallen in New York’s Central Park by 8 a.m. ET. Authorities warned of possible coastal flooding along parts of New York City and Long Island.
Train service was hard hit: Amtrak suspended service between New York and Boston and between New York and Albany, New York.
But there were slow signs of recovery. Amtrak said that it planned to operate on a modified schedule on Wednesday. And New York’s Metro-North commuter train service, which was suspended after noon, and above-ground subway service were expected to be restored Tuesday evening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
And a Minneapolis-bound flight took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport as regional flights resumed.
On Long Island, the storm interrupted power to some 6,300 electrical customers, Cuomo’s office said.
School districts in New York and Philadelphia were closed, along with many government offices.
Philadelphia could expect freezing rain, sleet and snow Tuesday afternoon; up to 4 inches of snow and sleet are possible into Wednesday.
Wind gusts as strong as 39 mph could blow across the city.
The snow couldn’t stop the determined.
Pennsylvania State Police teamed up with the Pennsylvania National Guard and other officials to escort a 23-month-old child from Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono in East Stroudsburg to Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville for an emergency procedure, police said.
Gov. Tom Wolf said state transportation employees led the way with a plow train, CNN affiliate WPVI reported.
Flight cancellations and travel warnings
Airlines canceled more than 7,000 US flights scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Flightaware.com. Those were on top of about 1,658 flights canceled Monday.
Warnings to use caution came from public officials up and down the East Coast — including President Donald Trump.
“Everyone along the east coast be safe and listen to local officials as a major winter storm approaches,” Trump tweeted.
Federal agencies in the Washington area opened three hours late Tuesday; employees had the option of taking unscheduled leave or teleworking, according to the US Office of Personnel Management.
This storm system already hit the Midwest, claiming two lives in Wisconsin. The victims — both men — died in separate weather-related activities, the Milwaukee County medical examiner reported.
A 76-year-old man was operating a snow blower before he died; the second man, 64, was shoveling snow, investigator Jenni Penn said. Both were cardiac-related deaths, Penn said.
In Gilford, New Hampshire, a 16-year-old girl was killed in a weather-related accident, police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee told CNN. The victim is the daughter of a Gilford police dispatcher, according to authorities.
Bean Burpee said the town is experiencing white-out conditions.