Long-lived winter storm clobbers U.S. East with snow

A seemingly endless winter storm that hindered travel across most of the country over the long holiday weekend is delivering a last wallop as it swoops through the Northeast, dumping heavy snow, closing hundreds of schools and bedeviling commuters in the region Monday.

Schools closed, flights cancelled as region hit with as much as 50-plus cm of snow

Snow covers parked vehicles after an overnight snowfall on Western Avenue, in Albany, N.Y., on Monday. (Hans Pennink/The Associated Press)

A seemingly endless winter storm that hindered travel across most of the country over the long holiday weekend is delivering a last wallop as it swoops through the Northeast, dumping heavy snow, closing hundreds of schools and bedeviling commuters in the region Monday.

The storm dropped about 30 centimetres of snow on parts of the region late Sunday and Monday and could bring 25 to 60 centimetres total by Tuesday morning from Pennsylvania to Maine, forecasters said. Heavy snow was also expected in the Appalachian Mountains down to Tennessee and North Carolina.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged drivers to use caution during the Tuesday morning commute when the storm was expected to be at its height with snow falling at a rate of two to five centimetres an hour in some places. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said city schools were cancelling classes and after-school activities Tuesday.

"It's moving very slowly, so the snow is just going to continue through the day," National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Vogt said Monday.

By Monday afternoon, the storm has already dropped nearly 70 centimetres of snow in Delanson, N.Y., 40 kilometres northwest of Albany — the highest snow total in the Northeast so far.

The same storm has pummeled the U.S. for days as it moved cross country, dumping heavy snow from California to the Midwest and inundating other areas with rain.

'Why do I still live in New England?'

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Monday for seven counties in eastern New York and assigned 300 National Guard members to assist with snow removal. State police had responded to more than 740 storm-related crashes statewide since the snow started falling.

"We're tough, we've seen it all, we can handle it all," Cuomo said at a storm briefing before urging people to stay off the roads. He told nonessential state employees to stay home.

But some workers had no choice but to trudge through knee-high snow and brush off their cars before heading out on the slushy roads.

"I just hate driving in snow," Kaia Jansson said as she raked snow off her car in Albany. "It's always a mess and it's cold and not fun."

A snowplow clears the road surface on Route 7 in New Ashford, Mass., on Sunday. (GIllian Jones/The Berkshire Eagle/The Associated Press)

In Nashua, New Hampshire, Alana Kirkpatrick didn't enjoy her 5 a.m. "workout," which consisted of removing heaps of snow from her car.

"Why do I still live in New England?" she said.

Hundreds of schools were already closed throughout the region, with more snow on the way.

"It's going to be a long, difficult storm," New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said.

In areas not already bludgeoned by the first wave, schools closed preemptively as rain was expected to turn into snow in the region's first significant storm of the season, a nor'easter so named because the winds typically come from the northeast.

At least four counties closed schools Monday in West Virginia, where five to 60 centimetres of snow was forecast. Closer to the heavily populated, coastal Interstate 95 corridor, a wintry mix was more likely. The National Park Service said parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and U.S. 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park were closed because of heavy snow predictions.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday at a news conference that the worst was still ahead. He closed state government for nonessential workers at noon.

Only seven centimetres of snow was forecast for New York City, where schools were expected to remain open, and 12 centimetres for Philadelphia. The National Weather Service on Monday predicted that the Boston area could get 18 centimetres of snow with lower amounts to the south and into Rhode Island and Connecticut. Communities north of Boston could see a foot in the storm expected to reach its peak Tuesday morning, snarling the morning commute.

Rowe in western Massachusetts received nearly 41 centimetres of snow from the storm that started Sunday night.

Air travel trouble

More than 780 flights into or out of the U.S. were cancelled Monday morning, with more than 5,600 delays, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware. Airports in the New York and Boston areas accounted for many of them. There were 950 cancellations and 8,800 delays on Sunday.

The storm also caused major traffic disruptions. Tractor-trailers were banned or lower speed limits put in place on stretches of highway in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. New York also posted lower speed limits on some highways.

Many buses from New York City to Pennsylvania and upstate destinations such as Ithaca and Binghamton were cancelled.

A commuter ferry on its way to Boston, where it was rainy and windy Monday morning, hit a wave and listed heavily, sending some passengers to the floor. No injuries were reported.

The trouble began in the East on Sunday as the storm moved out of the Midwest after days of pummeling parts of the U.S.

Duluth, Minn., was still cleaning up more than 53 centimetres of snow that dropped over the weekend. Major highways reopened in Wyoming and Colorado after blizzard conditions and drifting snow blocked them.

Neighbours work together in an effort to clear out as much snow as possible from E. Eighth Street in Duluth, Minn., on Sunday. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribute/The Associated Press)