North-East US streets empty amid monster blizzard’s onset

Streets across the North-east were nearly empty early Tuesday after cities from Boston to New York and Philadelphia shut down amid a monster storm expected to unload up to 90 centimetres of snow on a densely populated region of more than 35 million people.

Forecasters said the storm would build into a blizzard, and the brunt of it would hit late Monday and into Tuesday. As the snow got heavier, much of the region rushed to shut down.

More than 7,700 flights in and out of the Northeast were cancelled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday. Schools and businesses let out early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left. Broadway stages went dark.
Aware that big snowstorms can make or break politicians, governors and mayors moved quickly to declare emergencies and order the shutdown of streets and highways to prevent travellers from getting stranded and to enable plows and emergency vehicles to get through.

“This will most likely be one of the largest blizzards in the history of New York City,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for a 402-kilometer swath of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions. Forecasters warned that the wind could gust to 121 kph or more along the Massachusetts coast.

New York City’s subways and buses were suspended at 11 p.m. In Massachusetts, ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard was greatly curtailed and to Nantucket was suspended. Commuter railroads across the Northeast announced plans to stop running overnight, and most flights out of the region’s major airports were cancelled.

Authorities banned travel on all streets and highways in New York City and on Long Island and warned that violators could be fined $300. Even food deliveries were off-limits on the streets of takeout-friendly Manhattan. The governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island also slapped restrictions on nonessential travel.

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