Thousands of Flights Grounded as US Battles Snowstorm
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - US air authorities grounded thousands of flights Thursday as heavy snow, stiff winds and punishing cold pushed into the northeast of the country, forcing the governors of New York and New Jersey to declare a state of emergency.
The storm brought dangerously low temperatures and strong winds across the region, with parts of New England bracing for as much as 14 inches (36 cm) of snow by Friday morning, AFP reported.
“As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high winds to many parts of the state, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel and stay indoors,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Some 1,800 US flights were canceled in advance and around 4,500 delayed, with Chicago's O'Hare International and Newark's Liberty International Airport the worst-affected airports, according to FlightAware, a website that tracks air travel.
New York's three major airports were preparing to accommodate stranded travellers whose flights were canceled.
"We have a few hundred cots at each of the airports should you decide to become an overnight guest," said Thomas Bosco, an official with the Port Authority of New York and Jersey, at New York's LaGuardia Airport. The authority also runs Newark and John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie both ordered state offices closed on Friday for non-essential employees, saying they expected the worst to hit between late Thursday and early Friday morning.
"We'll have heavy snow, windy conditions, reduced visibilities," said Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts.
The storm posed the first major challenge to the administration of New York's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, just a day after his inauguration. Problems caused by snowstorms have played political havoc for mayors in the country's biggest city for decades.