WASHINGTON: Airlines were cancelling thousands of flights Wednesday as snow and freezing rain crippled the U.S. Northeast and Midwest for the second time in a week.
Across the eastern half of the U.S., the storm was cancelling classes, closing government and business offices, and causing hundreds of thousands of power outages across the region, just after wreaking similar havoc in the Midwestern heartland on Tuesday. A 100-kilometre of an interstate highway in the densely populated region between the Pennsylvania and Connecticut was closed to all vehicles.
Up to 300 millimeters or more of snow was expected to fall Wednesday on East Coast states, while some were getting freezing rain and sleet that made driving treacherous. That follows a heavy coating of snow that fell on Monday.
FlightStats said almost 2,600 flights had been cancelled as of 9:30 a.m. Eastern (1330 GMT) Wednesday. That follows almost 2,000 cancellations on Tuesday and another 2,500 on Monday.
Most of the cancelled flights were from the New York-area airports, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington. Regional airline Cape Air alone cancelled more than 200 flights, including nearly every flight planned from airports in Massachusetts.
United Airlines warned that the disruptions will affect flights in the Midwest, including Chicago and Cleveland, too. United and other airlines are allowing passengers to change their tickets without the usual change fees.
Icy conditions knocked out power to more than 600,000 customers in eastern and central Pennsylvania and caused school and legislative delays as well as speed reductions on major roadways. Falling trees became a hazard for motorists.
The great bulk of the outages were in the five-county Philadelphia region, most of them in the suburbs.
New York state deployed more than 2,000 plows and other pieces of heavy equipment to keep roads clear during a storm that has forced the closure of one major highway and hundreds of schools upstate.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency and state offices were closed for non-essential employees, as the state got snow in northern parts, sleet and freezing rain in some areas, and all rain in southern counties. Tens of thousands of customers were without power, and schools were closed or delayed.
Up in Massachusetts, the snowstorm forced Boston, Worcester and Springfield and other cities, to close schools and ban street parking to prepare for snow removal. In the tiny neighbouring state of Rhode Island, almost every school was shuttered. (AP)