Winter Storm Stella hits northeast US, New York City dodges worst

Winter Storm Stella hits northeast US, New York City dodges worst

A passenger pushes a cab stuck on a snow and sleet-covered street in New York on Tuesday. — AFP

NEW YORK — Winter Storm Stella lashed the northeastern United States with sleet and snow on Tuesday, cancelling thousands of flights, closing schools and shutting stores, but New York and Washington escaped the worst of the weather. Blizzard warnings were issued in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and upstate New York — with some areas near the New York state capital of Albany forecast to get up to 30 inches (76 centimeters) of snow overnight into Wednesday. But warnings were lifted for New York City, the US financial capital home to 8.4 million residents, where snow turned to sleet and hail. Dire forecasts forced the postponement of the first meeting between US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington until Friday, but in the end, snowfall in the US capital was light. The National Weather Service (NWS) drastically revised down New York City’s expected accumulation with 7.2 inches recorded in Central Park, and 10-13 inches in parts of neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut. Instead the trajectory of the storm shifted west and north, bringing heavy snow and strong winds to central parts of New York state and further north. “The storm is not delivering as much snow as forecasted at all and that is very good for the people of New York City, but the conditions are still very dangerous,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. Temperatures were set to dip below freezing overnight, making roads and sidewalks treacherous, and a city-wide state of emergency would remain in place until midnight (0400 GMT Wednesday). While the New York subway and bus services were operating, much of the city remained quiet with schools, shops and businesses largely closed as workers shoveled snow. New York’s John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports and Newark Liberty International Airport were largely shut, with the majority of flights canceled, and trains heading north towards Boston were also suspended. Autumn Young, 35, the owner of a soap company, said she had been stranded at Grand Central Station since 6:00 a.m. after her flight to see family in North Carolina and her train home were canceled. “I can’t even get out of the city. I’ve missed a whole day of work and meetings,” Young said. “It sucks, it’s awful. I am traveling with my service dog — he can’t go on the sidewalk because the salt is bad for his feet.” The United Nations headquarters closed for the day, as did the courts and a string of popular museums, some of the most-visited tourist attractions in the city. Officials announced that schools and rail services would re-open on Wednesday. More than 8,700 flights were canceled Monday through Wednesday, with airports in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia hit hardest, according to the tracking service FlightAware. US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, tweeted a picture of the snow saying, “A great day to binge watch ‘The Americans’” — a reference to the thriller TV series about Russian spies embedded in US suburbia. Her post triggered a stream of mockery, in light of the controversy over Russian meddling in last year’s election that has dogged Trump’s presidency. — AFP