News

Arctic blast snarls travel, shuts schools

Arctic blast snarls travel, shuts schools

WINTER BLAST: Motorist drive along a snow covered Interstate 94 in Detroit, Michigan on Jan. 2. Winter weather is slowing commutes and canceling schools and flights across much of the country. Photo: Associated Press/Joshua Lott

By Victoria Cavaliere and Scott Malone

NEW YORK/BOSTON (Reuters) – The first major winter storm of 2014 bore down on the northeastern United States on Thursday with heavy snow, Arctic temperatures and strong winds that snarled travel just as many people were returning from holiday breaks.

The wide storm system stretches from the lower Mississippi Valley to the Atlantic coast, with parts of New England including Boston bracing for as much as 14 inches of snow by Friday morning. Some cities along the storm’s southern edge expect only minimal snowfall.

Snow was falling across much of the northeastern United States by midday Thursday, though the serious accumulation was expected to begin after sunset and continue overnight, said Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts.

“The real action is going to get cranked up this evening and during the overnight hours. We’ll have heavy snow, windy conditions, reduced visibilities,” Buttrick said, adding that dangerous cold would continue into Friday.

Forecast snowfall varied widely, with Washington expected to see under an inch, Philadelphia 4 to 6 inches, New York 4 to 8 inches, Hartford 6 to 10 inches and Boston 8 to 14 inches.

The storm is expected to snarl traffic on the I-95 highway corridor between New York and Boston, the weather service said. Coastal flooding was forecast along low-lying parts of New England and some waterfront highways in Massachusetts were closed by midday on Thursday due to high waters.

The storm will provide an early challenge to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, elected on promises of enacting a progressive agenda. Problems from digging out from snowstorms have been political havoc for mayors in the United States’ biggest city for decades.

“I think he can pull it off. He seems like a hands-on person who can identify with what people in these communities are going through,” said Wayne Jenkins, 40, who works at a senior center in the New York borough of Brooklyn.

The powerful storm forced about 1,569 U.S. flights to be canceled and about 2,924 delayed, with the worst-affected airports Chicago’s O’Hare International, Newark’s Liberty International Airport and Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, according to FlightAware, a website which tracks air travel.

Officials with Boston’s Logan International Airport said they expected airlines to scale back operations during the storm, with the last departure expected at roughly 8:30 p.m. ET.

In Boston, public schools were told to close on Friday, extending students’ holiday break by a day.

‘DANGEROUS’ COLD EXPECTED

The weather service said the mass of Arctic air would drop temperatures to levels 20 to 30 degrees below normal, with record lows possible on Friday.

“Temperatures are expected to plummet tonight and tomorrow with wind chills dropping as low as 25 degrees below zero (F/-32 C),” said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. “That is a very dangerous set of circumstances.”

The low temperature in the contiguous United States on Wednesday was -43 Fahrenheit (-42 Celsius) at Embarrass, Minnesota, the weather service said.

Slippery road conditions made driving a hazard in many storm-hit areas, with police reporting multiple traffic accidents across the region.

Paul Brown, a 53-year-old construction manager from the Chicago area, said he broke from his usual routine and took the train into work to avoid a dangerous drive.

“Sometimes, I wonder if they have a death wish,” he said of area drivers. “Down south, you get an inch of snow and it paralyzes the whole town. Here, people get in the left lane and just drive.”

While most New York-area schools were open on Thursday, some parents were bracing for the possibility their children would be home on Friday.

“It’s tough with these storms because I end up using days off that I don’t want to take,” said Kristen Carson, who had taken the train into Manhattan from her home in suburban Montclair, New Jersey. “After the holiday, it’s really kind of a pinch.”

(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington and Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Andrew Hay)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: July 29

Fresh
benjerrys

A look back at the Hollywood headlines that went down in history.

in Music

Glen Matlock denies new Sex Pistols reunion

John Lydon, right, and Glen Matlock of The Sex Pistols perform at the Roxy in West Hollywood, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007.

Sex Pistols star Glen Matlock dashes fans' hopes of another reunion by insisting he hasn't had any contact with John Lydon in five years.

in Music

Aretha Franklin storms out of fast food joint

FILE - In this May 11, 2013 file photo, Aretha Franklin performs during McDonald's Gospelfest 2013 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.Franklin won’t say what has caused her latest health problems, but says she’s had a “miraculous” recovery and is looking forward to performing soon.In a phone interview on Tuesday, Aug. 20, Franklin said that she recently had a cat scan and that it showed she was 85 percent improved. The 71-year-old has canceled several concerts and public appearances and blamed it on unspecified treatment.

Aretha Franklin stormed out a Johnny Rockets in Ontario, Canada last week after a nasty encounter with a rude employee.

in Sports

Only arguing remains in Sterling trail

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2010, file photo, Shelly Sterling sits with her husband, Donald Sterling, right, during the Los Angeles Clippers' NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles. With a $2 billion sale of the Clippers hanging in the balance, a judge is set to determine Monday, June 30, 2014, if the terms of a family trust alone are enough to confirm Donald Sterling was properly removed as trustee and allow his estranged wife to sell the team without his consent.

Only final arguments and a ruling remain in the trial to determine whether Donald Sterling's estranged wife can sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.

in Music

The Beatles wanted to film ‘Lord of the Rings’

FILE- This is a 1967 handout image from Parlophone of The British group, The Beatles,. From left, are: Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney; and George Harrison. The woman who as a child was the basis for the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is gravely ill. It was thought by many at the time that the psychedelic song from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band was a paean to LSD because of the initials in the title, but it was actually based on a drawing that John Lennon's young son Julian brought home from school. He told his father the drawing was of Lucy in the sky with diamonds. Lucy Vodden, now living in Surrey just outside of London _ drifted apart after schoolyard days, but they have gotten back in touch as Lennon has tried to help Vodden cope with Lupus, a life-threatening disease.

Peter Jackson reveals John Lennon could have played Gollum in a Stanley Kubrick directed LOTR adaptation.