Huge snowstorm hits US east coast

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A massive winter storm has pummelled the US east coast, grounding flights, shuttering vaccination sites, and bringing New York City to a standstill.

By Monday afternoon as much as 19in (48cm) of snow had already fallen in parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and 17in (43cm) in New York City. New York City and New Jersey have both declared a state of emergency. The US National Weather Service said the storm will move up to New England, before tapering off on Tuesday. Wind gusts of up to 50mph (80km/h) are also forecast for several days creating a blinding, blowing snowstorm.

The storm has wrought havoc on local travel. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an order restricting non-essential travel from 06:00 local time (11:00 GMT) on Monday, and closing public schools on Tuesday.

A person walking their dog in the snow in New York City
A state of emergency has been declared in large parts of New York state and in New Jersey

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York City as well as 44 other counties. “This is a dangerous situation,” he said in a press conference on Monday. “A life-threatening-situation. Expect closures. It’s going to get very bad very quickly.”In New Jersey, Governor Philip Murphy suspended the state’s bus and rail operations on Monday. His emergency order allows authorities to shut roads and evacuate homes.

More than 1,600 flights have been canceled at major airports in the storm’s path, including Newark Liberty International Airport, John F Kennedy Airport, and Philadelphia International Airport. At New York’s La Guardia Airport, all flights were suspended as of Monday morning.

Snow storm in New York City
A state of emergency has been declared in New York City

The storm has also halted vaccine distribution in Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Philadelphia, parts of Washington, DC, and the New York area. In New York City vaccinations will be canceled through to Tuesday, as Mayor de Blasio has said it is “not safe” for older residents to go outside in the blizzard conditions. “We’re in a local state of emergency,” Mr de Blasio said at a news conference. “I’m fearful that this tough situation we have now could get worse.”

The Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain is seen covered in ice during a winter storm on February 1, 2021 in New York City.
The Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain in New York has been covered with ice amid the winter storm

Snow hit the west coast last week, with some parts of California experiencing more than 6ft (2m) of snowfall. In Washington DC, many have enjoyed the snow in front of the capital’s iconic landmarks. After a day of snow on Sunday, the winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service has been extended until Tuesday at midnight in the DC area. Freezing rain and sleet showers are expected throughout the day. President Joe Biden met advisers to discuss “a range of issues, including the approaching winter storm”, a White House official said.

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