Nor’easter News: Live Updates – The New York Times


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On Wednesday, a winter storm stormed into the Mid-Atlantic Ocean and the Northeast, with forecasters predicting up to two feet of snow in some places. The storm is expected to stretch nearly 1,000 miles.CreditCredit…Mark Makela / Getty Images

A fast-moving winter storm swept through the Mid-Atlantic Ocean and the Northeast on Wednesday, piling snow and mixing with sleet and high winds to create dangerous road conditions in the affected areas.

A traffic jam of dozens of cars on Interstate 80 in Clinton County, Pennsylvania resulted in two deaths, state police said. A Virginia State Police spokeswoman said a 19-year-old man was killed in a car accident, one of about 200 that state police responded to at 3 p.m.

In New York City, a multiple collision on an already salted stretch of road just south of a bridge connecting Manhattan to the Bronx left half a dozen people hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.

As the night progressed, the storm turned out to be, as predicted, one of the largest in New York, Philadelphia and other East Coast cities since a crippling snowstorm in 2016.

“Everything predicted is right on schedule,” David Stark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New York, said Wednesday night. Central Park had then received 2.6 inches of snow, the weather service said.

The snow had settled in New York City several hours earlier and was expected to come with increasing intensity until around midnight, Mr. Stark said. At that point, he added, precipitation would likely shift to a mix of snow and sleet.

In a subsequent interview, Mr. Stark said that the transition from snow to sleet might happen earlier than expected and that snow build-up in the city could end at the bottom of the eight to thirty inches predicted.

By 11:30 p.m. in Upper Manhattan, the precipitation had turned into a mixture of snow, rain and sleet that began to crust the currents between parked cars. Temperatures in the mid-1920s and sharp gusts of wind made walking only a short distance unpleasant.

In Philadelphia, where the snow gave way to sleet in the afternoon, there were reports of two inches at Rittenhouse Square and nearly six inches at Philadelphia International Airport.

The storm, a nor’easter, first hit Maryland, Virginia and the Washington area, with a mixture of icy rain and snow covering the region. Near Frederick County, Maryland, dozens of cars could barely move an inch on a busy highway. In Washington, about 50 miles southeast, the snow seemed to turn to mud.

The storm was expected to extend nearly 1,000 miles from North Carolina to New England, according to the National Weather Service, and threatened to cut down trees, cut power and ice roads (few outages had been reported by 9:00 PM). Western Maryland and south central Pennsylvania should be the most heavily supported by the storm, with as much as two feet of snow in those areas.

A municipal snowplow hit a man in western Pennsylvania late Wednesday afternoon and killed it, authorities said. The episode took place just before 5:00 p.m. in North Versailles, Pennsylvania, about 21 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, according to local media reports that the man had used a snow blower when the public works came against him.

Schools that have taught in-person classes, including in New York City and Boston, have closed or announced plans to do so. Snow forced some coronavirus testing sites in the Baltimore area to temporarily close, and two city-sponsored mobile testing sites in Boston were also closed.

Matt Otten, the manager of Zaftigs Delicatessen, a Boston restaurant known for its Jewish comfort food, said he typically wouldn’t close due to bad weather. This time, however, he was concerned. “We are concerned for the safety of our workers as the roads are going to become very treacherous,” he said.

Forecasters predicted up to a foot of accumulation in New York - more than the city received all last winter.
Credit…George Etheredge for The New York Times

The first major winter storm of the season hit the East Coast Wednesday and Thursday morning, and like everything in 2020, things got more complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Hospitals in the storm’s path, already contending with overloaded intensive care units and emergency departments from Covid-19 hospital admissions, delayed elective surgery to keep beds available. Several major cities, including Baltimore and Hartford, Conn., Temporarily closed test sites for coronavirus in anticipation of heavy snow and wind.

The storm also threatened the timely delivery of a coronavirus vaccine, just as the first vaccinations of health workers began this week. The St. Luke’s University Health Network, which operates 12 hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, expected its first vaccine release Thursday, but a spokesperson said there was a possibility it could be delayed by the storm.

While hundreds of school districts announced they would close Wednesday and Thursday due to the storm, others felt that online learning was being honed during the pandemic as the perfect replacement for a snow day, disappointing students hoping for a day off.

Even the usual headaches of flight delays – hundreds of flights were canceled on Wednesday – raised new concerns because of the virus. Chloe Cho, 22, was due to fly home from Boston to Chicago on Thursday, but the storm forced her to postpone her trip an extra day.

“I’m not excited,” she said. “Usually I don’t mind waiting at airports, but now Covid worries me that I will have to wait for my flight because of the storm.”

Traffic and snow along the Vine Street Expressway in Philadelphia on Wednesdays.
Credit…Cameron Pollack for The New York Times

With a major winter storm in the eastern United States, you can expect some people (and perhaps inevitably President Trump) to ask, “What happened to global warming?”

It is becoming increasingly clear that climate change has an effect on storms, although the relationship can be complex and, yes, counterintuitive. “There were expectations that winter would in fact disappear from us,” said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at AER, a company that provides information to customers about weather and climate-related risks.

While winters are generally getting warmer and somewhat milder, extreme weather events are also increasing, and especially in the Northeastern United States, as Dr. Cohen noted in a recent article in the journal Nature Communications. From the winter of 2008-9 to 2017-18, there were 27 major northeasterly winter storms, three to four times the totals for each of the previous five decades.

One of the factors that may fuel storms is a warmer atmosphere, which can hold more water vapor; Not only can that mean more precipitation, but when the vapor forms clouds, “it releases heat into the air, which provides fuel for storms,” ​​said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center. Also potentially important, but less understood, she noted, is “the jet stream’s increased tendency to make large thrusts north and south,” creating weather phenomena like the dreaded polar vortex.

Does this mean that this particular storm has been fueled by climate change? Jonathan E. Martin, a professor in the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, warned against jumping to conclusions.

Because of the “vast natural variability” in storms and the weather they produce, “I think it is dangerous to attribute individual winter storms, or their characteristics, to climate change,” he said. And this storm in particular, he added, gets much of its moisture from water vapor evaporated from the Atlantic Ocean, complicating the picture.

Dr. Francis agreed that all connections are complex, but added, “all storms now originate in a greatly changed climate, so there is little doubt that the same storm would not be the same decades ago.”