Jan. 29 (UPI) – A winter snowstorm hit the northeastern US Saturday morning, causing power outages in the region and forcing the cancellation of thousands of flights nationwide.
The storm ravaged New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, where snowfall rates of 1 inch to 2 inches per hour were expected according to Accuweather, and more than 10 million people in the Northeast are being warned of blizzards.
Blizzards are defined by blowing or falling snow, winds of at least 35 mph, and visibility of a quarter of a mile or less for at least 3 hours, the National Weather Service, which several issued snow storm warnings, noted.
“Whether the snow falls or not, dangerous conditions can arise,” tweeted National Weather Service Philadelphia/Mount Holly.
The NWS has warned that the storm — described by officials as a strong northeasterly, with northeasterly winds — could cause near-record snowfalls and blizzards in parts of New England.
More than a foot of snow has been reported in parts of New Jersey, according to the NWS, with some reports exceeding 20 inches in parts of Long Island, NY
In Massachusetts alone, PowerOutage.US reported more than 31,391 power outages Saturday morning as snowstorms caused gusty winds and poor visibility across the state, which could lead to more power outages.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, turmoil in the workforce, including the transportation industry, has led to a shortage of snowplow operators and city and school bus drivers, The New York Times reported.
“I don’t know where everyone has gone with Covid and everything,” Chris Ferreira, the owner of a towage company in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, told the Times. “As for hiring help, I can’t get one, and the fuel price has gone up. It’s gone up so much that it’s affecting all overheads.”
According to Flight Aware, 889 flights were canceled at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on Saturday, an additional 616 flights were canceled at Boston airport and more than 4,500 flights were canceled nationwide.
Jet Blue accounted for 68% of airline cancellations, with United accounting for 22%, Frontier (20%), Delta (19%), American Airlines (18%) and Spirit (14%).