A record-breaking blizzard packing hurricane-force winds pummeled the northeastern United States on Saturday, causing at least two storm-related deaths, cutting power to 700,000 homes and businesses and shutting down travel.
The mammoth storm that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic coast dumped more than 3 feet of snow across the Northeast, the National Weather Service said. Blizzard and flood warnings were in effect for the coast.
In Stratford, Connecticut, Mayor John Harkins said he had never seen such a heavy snowfall, with rates of 6 inches an hour at times overnight, he told local WTNH television. “Even the plows are getting stuck,” Harkins said.
The storm concentrated its fury on Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, with the top snowfall 38 inches in Milford, Connecticut.
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee banned all travel on roads in order to aid snow plow crews. He told CNN that National Guard troops were rescuing stranded motorists, especially at uncleared on-ramps. The mammoth storm dumped 29.3 inches of snow on Portland, Maine, breaking a 1979 record, and the weather service said there is more on the way.
Police in New York’s Suffolk County turned to snowmobiles in some cases to rescue hundreds of motorists stuck overnight on the Long Island Expressway, said police spokesman Rich Glanzer. Some spent the night in their cars.
In Poughkeepsie, New York, a man in his 70s was killed when a driver lost control of her car and hit him, media reported. An 80-year-old woman clearing her driveway in Prospect, Rhode Island, died on Friday when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver, a spokesman for state emergency services said. A 30-year-old motorist in Auburn, New Hampshire, died when his car went off the road, but the man’s health, and not the weather, might have been a factor in the accident, state authorities said.
Utility companies reported about 600,000 customers without electricity across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Almost 2,000 flights were canceled on Saturday, according to FlightAware, which tracks airline delays. Boston’s Logan International Airport and Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, were shut down.
The National Weather Service said the storm was expected to taper off from West to East into the afternoon. Snowfall is forecast to total from 2 to 3 feet in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said coastal communities were being evacuated as offshore waves were expected to reach 30 feet.
However, Fashion Week in New York went on unfazed as crowds of people arrived to watch the morning's shows by Ruffian and LaCoste.