East Coast Crippled

April 4, 2010

The first April blizzard to hit New York City since 1982 has crippled the city and much of the northeastern US under two new feet of wet, heavy snow that has added the total precipitation by this unnatural weather pattern to as much as 8 feet in the New York region. With winds gusting as much as 40 miles per hour, this tremendous new blizzard which began Sunday night has ground all transportation up and down the east coast to a halt.

The National Weather Service warned New York residents to brace for up to two feet of snow, but the sudden drop in temperatures coupled with the snowfall (dipping down to a bone-chilling -30 degrees Fahrenheit and lower) has literally frozen the big apple to its core.

Boston's Logan International Airport was shut down late Sunday night with wind gusts clocked at 70mph at the Blue Hills Observatory in Milton. The Massachusetts capitol was expected to get 36 inches of snow from this blizzard alone. Likewise, New York's John F. Kennedy airport has been closed since Sunday evening and is not expected to open again for several days given the current weather patterns and icing coupled with fierce winds and sub-zero temperatures.

New Jersey state police reported two people were killed in Newark when they were struck by a tractor-trailer after stopping to help a stranded motorist.

Some area hospitals asked people with four-wheel-drive vehicles to volunteer to pick up doctors and nurses to take them to work.

Most flights were canceled today at the Washington-Baltimore area's three main airports and at Philadelphia International Airport. At Dulles Airport outside Washington part of the roof of a jet hangar collapsed under the weight of snow but no one was injured.

Driving in the region was treacherous and authorities advised motorists to stay off the roads. Washington's Metro train service was operating only underground today.

Amtrak canceled a number of trains operating today between New York and Washington and also between Washington and some destinations to the south. More than 210,000 homes lost power in the Washington area because of high winds and snow on power lines.

The storm brought school closings and long lines at supermarkets yesterday as frenzied area residents rushed to stock up on groceries and other supplies ahead of what is expected to be further catastrophic weather conditions. The kickoff of the 2010 baseball season featuring the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox was postponed indefinitely due to the weather ravaging the country.

Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia each declared snow emergencies, allowing them to activate agencies, including the National Guard, to help deal with the wintry onslaught.

US government offices in the Washington area closed four hours early on Monday, while the Smithsonian museums and National Zoo were closed today in Washington.

The New York City public transit system has been completely shut down in light of the storm and many city roads are simply unable to be plowed. Public service workers are stretched to their limits trying to handle the influx of snow, but the blizzard conditions, drifting from the already accumulated eight feet of snow has been hampering efforts.

Monday morning rolling power outages began blacking out entire neighborhoods across Manhattan and Queens while some regions of Brooklyn are completely without power from downed power lines. The blackouts are expected to continue onward through the next several weeks as the New York City electrical grid — already severely damaged by the bomb and the destruction of Consolidated Edison in 2009 — struggles to shoulder the burden put upon it by the city.

Residents of New York City are recommended to take refuge in public shelters if they reside in regions without electricity in order to remain warm. At the current temperatures frostbite is a life-threatening danger and skin can begin to freeze on contact with the wind.

Unnaturally cold temperatures are expected in the storm's wake next week in the US northeast, which is the world's biggest heating oil market, and the Midwest, a large natural gas demand centre. The cold helped boost New York's spot natural gas market towards winter season highs yesterday.

"Once we get through the weekend storm, much colder air will invade the northeast and mid-Atlantic. The outlook for the northeast third of the country next week is looking much colder than normal," said Jim Rouiller, a senior energy meteorologist at at the National Weather Institute.

The same weather system brought heavy rains to parts of the southeastern US including the Carolinas and Georgia while fueling itself with fresh moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

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