Big freeze blasts US

ALMOST ARCTIC: People walk through heavy snow on New York’s Times Square yesterday. The US National Weather Service warned of two days of winter storms across the east coast, from Pennsylvania to Maine
ALMOST ARCTIC: People walk through heavy snow on New York’s Times Square yesterday. The US National Weather Service warned of two days of winter storms across the east coast, from Pennsylvania to Maine

Up to 60cm of snow recorded

A blizzard swept across the northeastern United States yesterday, dropping more than 30cm of snow across Massachusetts and Connecticut even as its impact on New York City fell short of dire predictions.

The governors of New York and New Jersey lifted travel bans they had imposed a day earlier and New York City’s subway system was set to restart, though officials urged people who did not have to drive to stay off snow-covered roadways.

A blizzard warning remained in effect for much of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where snow was expected to go on falling at a rate as high as 5cm to 8cm an hour, even as the National Weather Service lifted its blizzard warning for the New York City area.

In Somerset, Massachusetts, Port Elizabeth-born Deo-Lynn Miranda woke with her husband Nathan to a thick blanket of snow yesterday and no way of leaving home as driving was banned.

She said the streets were eerily quiet after a state of emergency was proclaimed on Monday.

“Most of New England is under a travel ban. I hear they’re fining anyone on the road today,” she said.

Miranda, who has lived in Massachusetts since 2010, said the storm was bad, but not the worst she had seen.

Another Port Elizabethan, Amy Shelver, is in Brooklyn attending the New York Film Academy on a month-long production course.

She said: “It was a blustery – and noisy – night as the wind pumped. Snow fell in every direction.

“Emergency and municipal vehicles worked all night to ensure that the roads were not clogged with snow and that people were safe.”

Some in New York criticised the aggressive warnings of officials, including mayor Bill de Blasio, who for the first time in history ordered the city’s subway to close for a snowstorm.

Officials with vivid memories of disasters including 2012’s Superstorm Sandy defended their actions.

Some cab drivers in New York doubled fares and sought to pack additional passengers into their vehicles as office workers headed to their jobs.

Travel was still snarled, with more than 4 500 flights cancelled at US airports, according to FlightAware.com

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo defended his decisions, including a driving ban in New York City and surrounds overnight.

Some of the heaviest snowfall was recorded in parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts. About 50cm was reported in Worcester, second city of Massachusetts, well over the 15cm reported in New York City’s Central Park.

East of New York City, Suffolk County also saw 60cm of snow in spots.

– Reuters, Additional reporting by Eleanor Douglas-Meyers

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