Monday, December 27, 2010

Post-Christmas travel is heavily disrupted by North-East blizzard

Sunshine and deep piles of sparkling snow blanketed the Northeast on Monday, but for frustrated commuters and holiday travelers struck by the winter’s first ferocious storm, the beauty was short-lived.

Gusting winds kicked up formidable snowdrifts further crippling an entire New York metropolitan region trying to dig out, shutting down the three major area airports for most of the day, stopping commuter trains and some subway lines — even stranding some passengers on trains overnight — and causing nightmarish delays without much of a sense of when the conditions would improve.

Newark International and John F. Kennedy International airports will both open at 6 p.m. for departing flights only, Sara Beth Joren, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said. La Guardia Airport opened at 4 p.m., and some flights would be leaving later Monday evening, Ms. Joren said. All three airports are expected to resume arrivals and departures on Tuesday morning.

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, speaking at an afternoon news conference, succinctly captured the power of the storm: “A lot of snow, every place,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “It was a very heavy snowfall, and as you know, it was accompanied by intense winds.”

But, he concluded: “The world has not come to an end, the city is going fine.”

Still, nearly two feet of snow was dumped on the New York area through the overnight hours, and its cumulative effects were plainly evident during the day on Monday.

High winds damaged switches for train lines, knocked down power lines, drifted snow perilously deep on tracks and even caused plow trucks to get stuck. City buses stalled on hills and cars abandoned on side streets complicated snow removal as New York struggled mightily to recover before the evening commute began.
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