By Prudence Arobani
The New York city and cities across the Northeast region of the U.S. on Thursday woke up to unusual snowstorms, forcing activities to be closed down in what meteorologists said is the season’s most dangerous snow event.
A Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York reports that snowstorms, reaching up to 18 inches, forced schools, banks and offices to close until further notice in the ever busy U.S. city that runs 24 hours commercial and transportation services.
The New York temperature slumped to minus and the heavy storm is expected to last beyond till about 6 p.m.
More than 1,700 flights in New York-area airports alone were cancelled as the storm moves through.
The National Weather Service warned on Thursday that the state could witness up to 18 inches of snowballs as heavy snowfall rates persisted.
“A Blizzard Warning is now in effect for Nassau and Suffolk County. Between 12 to 18 inches of snow is expected with heavy snowfall rates leading to whiteout conditions”.
The New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, at an emergency televised news conference, said “what we’re seeing right now is it’s hitting pretty hard.
“About one or two inches per hour now, but what we’re worried about is that that’s going to intensify potentially at a really intense point at three or four inches per hour.
“And that’s really, really tough for anyone trying to get around. This is an unusually intense snowstorm. We have closed down schools since yesterday.
“Please stay warm. If you don’t have heat, please call 311 immediately. Check out on your neighbours and if you see anyone in danger, call 911.
“To have three inches of snow in an hour is something super intense and unusual. We expect the snow to cease by around 6 p.m.
“Don’t move around; stay off the streets and don’t drive your cars. We need you to stay safe. The sanitation workers will clear up the blisters over the night before tomorrow morning. We will continue to get update weather information from the National Weather Service,” he said.
New York State governor Andrew Cuomo advised residents to stay safe.
“As Mother Nature once again tests the resilience and strength of this state, I urge New Yorkers to plan ahead, stay informed, and above all, stay safe,” Cuomo said.
The city said it rolled out 2,300 salt spreaders and plows.
The New York Department of Sanitation said snow was falling in the city at about two to three inches an hour.
“About 2,300 snow plow and salt spreaders were out in the city as of 8 a.m.
“Snow heavy, winds whipping,” the department wrote on Twitter.
“Give NY’s strongest right of way on roads so we can keep you safe.”
The New York Police Department said it did not know of any deaths or injuries related to the snowstorm.
“One person died and seven others were injured in a house fire on Staten Island that started around 7 a.m.,” the Fire Department said.
However, officials said they did not know whether it was related to the storm.
The National Weather Service predicted that parts of New England could get up to 18 inches of snow before the day is out.
Philadelphia, which is expected to see up to eight inches, declared a snow emergency to keep cars off the streets.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike lowered its speed limit to 45 miles per hour, and most of the flights from Philadelphia International Airport had been cancelled.
Airlines canceled nearly 3,000 flights in the Northeast region, with winter storm warnings stretched from Maine to Maryland and salt trucks deployed across the region, according to reports.
The governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut urged people not to travel unless necessary and told nonessential state employees not to come to work.