Winter storm bears down on Northeast; emergencies declared

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About 70 million people in the U.S. Northeast are under the effect of a winter storm or blizzard warning as a late-season storm system began dumping snow Tuesday, creating travel disruptions and leading officials to close schools.

Officials declared states of emergency in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

More than 5,400 domestic and international flights coming in or out of the United States have been canceled for Tuesday, mostly affecting New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport; New York’s LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport; Boston’s Logan International Airport; Maryland’s Baltimore-Washington International Airport; the Philadelphia International Airport; and Virginia’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy issued a statewide travel ban that began at 5 a.m. on Tuesday and ordered all non-essential first- and second-shift state employees to not report to work.

Dozens of schools throughout Connecticut are closed. Schools in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia are also closed.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency at midnight on Tuesday ahead of the storm. In New York City, which could see up to 18 inches of snow, the Metropolitan Transport Authority suspended above-ground train services at 4 a.m.

The U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., canceled votes for Tuesday and are scheduled to meet again late Wednesday.

Illinois State Police said snowy weather caused two crashes involving 34 cars on a highway in Chicago on Monday. Seven people had minor injuries.

The Virginia Department of Transportation reported wet roads in the Salem district but no roads affected by snow or ice on Tuesday. The agency warned drivers to watch for possible slick spots.

Delaware Gov. John C. Carney Jr. closed state government offices in New Castle County for Tuesday’s regular business hours. Non-essential employees are not to report to work during that period, while essential employees are required to report as scheduled.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said NJ Transit has suspended all bus services because of the storm. Officials in New Jersey also closed state offices for all non-essential employees on Tuesday.

“During these threatening conditions, I urge all New Jerseyans to remain off the roads so our first responders and public safety officers can safely and efficiently handle emergency situations,” Christie said.

The National Weather Service warns that more than a foot of snow is likely to fall inland, accompanied by strong winds. The National Weather Service warns Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut will be hit with a “wall of snow” that will drop about 4 inches of snow an hour.

“A major winter storm is unfolding across interior portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. Winter storm warnings are in effect from eastern West Virginia to Maine, and blizzard warnings from eastern Pennsylvania to southwest Maine,” the NWS said in a statement. “Snowfall amounts in excess of a foot are likely inland along with strong and gusty winds. High winds and tidal flooding are going to be an issue for coastal areas north of the Outer Banks.”

UPI