The U.S. Northeast on Thursday was hit by a powerful blizzard, knocking out power for tens of thousands of people and snarling travel amid a cold snap that has gripped much of the United States for over a week and killed more than a dozen people.
Thousands of flights were cancelled, firefighters scrambled to rescue motorists from flooded streets in Boston, National Guard troops were mobilized in the Northeast and New York City’s two main airports halted flights because of whiteout conditions.
“Today, I thought Manhattan was going to have the streets cleaned up, but I see not,” said Valentine Williams, who usually operates an electric scooter to deliver food in New York City.
The snow forced Williams, 28, to make deliveries on foot. No customers complained that he was slower than usual. “They’re just surprised that I’m out here,” he added.
Officials feared fast-dropping temperatures after the storm passed would turn snow on roadways to ice.
Ahead of that threat, snow plows and salt trucks were dispatched along streets and highways, and schools were closed through much of the region. In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh said schools would remain closed on Friday.
Blizzard warnings were in effect along the East Coast from North Carolina to Maine. The U.S. National Weather Service measured wind gusts of more than 70 miles per hour (113 kph), which downed power lines.
Almost 80,000 homes and businesses in the Northeast and Southeast, where the storm struck on Wednesday, were without power.
The Boston area received 12 inches of snow, with more on the way, according to the National Weather Service. Parts of New Jersey were buried under nearly a foot and a half of powder.
The storm was powered by a rapid plunge in barometric pressure that some weather forecasters called a bombogenesis, or a “bomb cyclone.” It brought high winds and swift, heavy snowfall.
The wintry weather has been blamed for at least 14 deaths in the past few days, including four in North Carolina traffic accidents and three in Texas because of the cold.
Nearly 500 members of the National Guard were activated along the East Coast to assist with emergency response, including 200 in New York state, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement.