Friday, January 3, 2014
A winter storm that swept across the Midwest this week blew through parts of Canada and the East on Friday, producing more than a foot of snow in spots, giving rise to gusty winds and leaving bone-chilling cold in its wake. A look at the storm:
SNOWY, WINDY AND COLD
In the Northeast, the storm appeared to save the most snow for Massachusetts, where more than 13 inches fell in Boston and almost 2 feet fell to the north. The temperature was 2 degrees in Boston on Friday morning but felt like minus-20 with the wind chill. New York City's Central Park got 6 inches of snow, while across the city in the Ozone Park section of Queens, 10.5 inches fell. On suburban Long Island, as much as 11 inches fell and was accompanied by wind gusts as high as 40 mph. Parts of New Jersey saw at least 10 inches of snow.
Residents of Toronto, where the temperature hit minus-7, heard loud booms generated by underground water freezing and expanding. In International Falls, Minn., renowned for its cold weather, residents considered a temperature hovering around zero a reprieve from Thursday's low of minus-43; the temperature was expected to plummet again.
Green Bay, Wis., and Fort Wayne, Ind., saw record lows of minus-18 and minus-10, respectively.
Three hikers from South Carolina who set out Thursday for a 10-day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border found themselves in snow drifts 2 feet high as wind chills dipped to minus-20 and called for help on their cellphones. The weather hampered rescue efforts, but rangers eventually reached them with warm clothing and tents, finding them weak and unable to walk. They were taken to a North Carolina hospital and treated for hypothermia and frostbite.
In Vermont, workers rescued an infant from a car crash Thursday night by pulling the baby up a steep embankment; the child, a man and a woman were taken to a hospital.
AT LEAST 15 DEATHS
Weather associated with the storm was responsible for at least 15 deaths across the country in the past few days, including a worker who was killed by a falling pile of road salt outside Philadelphia; a 79-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease who froze after wandering away from her home in western New York; and a 12-year-old car passenger who died when the vehicle driven by his 14-year-old friend crashed on a slick road in southwestern Michigan.
Hundreds of schools closed in several states Friday because of the snow or cold, and sometimes both. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a rare closure of the nation's largest district, saying cold was the deciding factor. In Minnesota, where the temperature was forecast to dip as low as minus-30, Gov. Mark Dayton ordered all public schools statewide to close.
TRAVEL AND ACCIDENTS
Nearly 1,900 flights were canceled nationwide Friday. Major highways around New York City, including the New York State Thruway and the Long Island Expressway, reopened after being closed overnight. In Connecticut, state police reported 225 traffic accidents by morning, and New York state police said there were dozens on Interstate 87 north of Albany.
A tanker carrying crude oil crashed and went off a bridge Thursday on snowy Interstate 69 in Michigan, creating a toxic fire and forcing the evacuation of homes and businesses. In suburban Philadelphia, a 100-foot pile of road salt toppled over Thursday and trapped a worker operating a backhoe; the man died. In Indiana, a pickup truck collided with a charter bus loaded with casino patrons Wednesday, killing the pickup driver and injuring 15 bus passengers. A New Jersey Transit bus slid backward down an icy hill Friday and crashed into a carpet store, injuring the driver, who was the only person aboard.
Though the light, dry snow the storm produced didn't create much of a threat to power lines, officials had feared high winds would. By Friday morning, outages were minimal, with around 6,000 customers in the dark in the Washington-Baltimore area and only 200 powerless in Maine, where an ice storm last week affected 160,000 customers in the state.
Outreach teams looked to get homeless people off the streets of New York City and Boston.
New York's outreach teams fielded 76 reports about homeless people between 8 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Friday, compared with about a dozen on a normal night. Staffers spoke with 58 homeless people, some several times; 13 of those people decided to go to shelters. The city declared a Code Blue, allowing authorities to take people to shelters against their will if their health was at risk from the cold, but no one required that, the Department of Homeless Services said.