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Winter storm hits northeast US, halting over 2,500 flights

By AFP

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A woman carries an umbrella as she crosses Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn during a snowstorm, March 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: AFP)

(AFP) – The second winter storm in less than a week struck the northeastern United States Wednesday, with around 2,500 flights canceled as the region braced for heavy snow.

Around 550 flights arriving and departing from John F Kennedy International Airport – nearly 42 per cent of the total scheduled – were canceled by 7:00 pm (2400 GMT), along with 700 flights from New Jersey’s Newark airport and also from La Guardia, which operates primarily domestic flights, according to the FlightAware flight tracking site.

Airports in Boston and Philadelphia were also affected, with almost 20 per cent of flights halted.
Snowfall – which was accompanied by thunder and lightning – varied across the region, and was not expected to last beyond Wednesday.

Only a few centimeters had fallen at JFK by the end of the day, but there were up to 30 centimeters in more central New York neighborhoods, and up to 50 centimeters in rural areas of New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut, according to the National Weather Service, which had said it expected more snowfall than previously predicted at around midday.

While temperatures were set to remain above freezing, the NWS also warned of “heavy wet snow, coastal flooding and gusty winds” in the region.

In the evening, fog, blizzard-like conditions made traveling in regions surrounding New York City near impossible, the NWS said.

Drivers in states throughout the region were urged not to travel, but driving was not forbidden – with New Jersey police responding to 356 road traffic incidents between midnight and 4:00 pm.

New York public schools as well as city public services and courts were open as usual.

Late Tuesday in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy announced school closures and declared a state of emergency – set to be lifted Wednesday night.

Boston schools were also scheduled to remain closed on Thursday.

Meanwhile, rail travel was disrupted as operator Amtrak canceled several trains between the capital Washington and Boston.

The last storm to sweep through the northeastern United States last week left at least five people dead, mostly due to trees felled by violent winds and heavy rains.

Thousands who lost power last week remained in the dark when Wednesday’s storm struck – with some new outages reported, particularly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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