US northeast braces for monster snowstorm
NEW YORK, United States – The US northeast braced for a monster winter storm Monday, January 26, with residents snapping up supplies ahead of what New York City's mayor warned could be a blizzard "the likes of which we've never seen before."
The stage was set for a possibly historic "nor'easter" that would affect an area from central New Jersey to the Canadian border from Monday to Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.
President Barack Obama was given a briefing about emergency preparations for the storm while he was on a visit to India.
"Earlier this morning, the president was briefed on the winter storm that is intensifying and approaching New England," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in New Delhi.
"White House officials have been in touch with state and local officials up and down the eastern seaboard to ensure that they have the resources necessary to prepare for and immediately respond to the storm," he added.
Earnest said that the president, who is expected to leave India on Tuesday for a brief visit to Saudi Arabia, had asked that be kept informed of developments by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Bracing for 'extreme weather'
Officials in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington urged residents to stay home as they prepared for a storm that could dump up to three feet (about a meter) of snow in some areas.
"We are facing most likely one of the largest snow storms in the history of this city," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference.
"My message to all New Yorkers is to prepare for something worse than we have seen before."
"Take every precaution, now is the time to get ready for this extreme weather," de Blasio said. "Don't underestimate the storm."
The US Weather Channel referred to the cold blast as a "possibly historic" winter storm, as airlines canceled more than 1,800 flights early Monday as the weather system neared, according to flightaware.com.
Some airlines waved change fees as major delays and widespread cancelations were anticipated.
"This system will be responsible for heavy snowfall and strong winds, with blizzard conditions possible along coastal areas from New Jersey to Massachusetts," the weather service said.
"Many of the major metropolitan areas will be affected anywhere from Philadelphia through New York City and into Boston," it added.
Blizzard warnings were in effect along the coast from central New Jersey to the Canadian border.
Scramble for supplies
People were scrambling to pick up storm staples such as shovels, road salt and ice scrapers.
"With a major winter storm approaching the state, I urge New Yorkers to take all necessary precautions and make preparations for the possibility that commutes will be disrupted on Monday and Tuesday," Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
New York city-area Port Authority employees have been ordered to work 12-hour shift starting on Monday to prepare for the onslaught, he added.
The weather service said 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 centimeters) could fall from southeastern New York to coastal New England.
Forecasts predicted 24 to 30 inches of snow in eastern Massachusetts.
"Isolated areas of even higher amounts cannot be ruled out," it cautioned.
Ahead of the weekend's heavy snow, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called on people in the city to help each other.
"We ask that each and every single Boston resident look after their neighbor, be it someone you see outdoors or someone living next door," he said. – Rappler.com