January 2

Fierce storm takes hold of region as blizzard warning is issued

Airlines cancel thousands of flights as the Northeast braces for the brunt of the storm Thursday night.

By Rodrique Ngowi And John Christoffersen
The Associated Press

BOSTON – A storm expected to bring more than a foot of snow, stiff winds and punishing cold pushed into the Northeast on Thursday, extending Christmas break for some students while posing the first test for New York's new mayor and perhaps the last challenge for Boston's outgoing one.

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Milo Bloom, 10, skis over a snowbank next to a parked car during a snowstorm Thursday in Portland. Strong winds are creating blizzard-like conditions. A wind chill factor of 30 degrees below zero is expected Friday.

The Associated Press/Robert F. Bukaty

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Marianne Stewart of Albany crosses a road as snow falls on Thursday in Albany, N.Y. The National Weather Service said some areas from Buffalo to Albany could get a total of up to 14 inches by the time the coastal storm moved out Friday morning.

The Associated Press

Additional Photos Below

Some schools in New England and New York closed well ahead of the snow, while cities mobilized plows and salt spreaders, and state offices sent workers home early. Some major highways were ordered shut down overnight. U.S. airlines canceled more than 2,300 flights nationwide on Thursday in advance of the storm.

The heavy weather began rolling in just a day after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in to lead the nation's largest city and a few days before Boston Mayor Thomas Menino ends 20 years in office.

Menino announced a parking ban and said schools would be closed Friday in Boston, where up to 14 inches of snow was expected. Boston's airport said it would not handle any flights after 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

"What a New Year's gift, to receive one last snowstorm as mayor," said Menino, whose successor takes office on Monday.

De Blasio, who as public advocate in 2010 criticized his predecessor Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his handling of a post-Christmas storm, said hundreds of plows and salt spreaders would be on the streets as soon as the snow started falling Thursday night.

"We have to get it right, no question about it," de Blasio said. "We are focused like a laser on protecting this city and getting everyone ready. We have all hands on deck."

Snow began falling overnight Wednesday in parts of New England and New York state, but the brunt of the storm wasn't expected until late Thursday. Forecasters said temperatures would plummet, with some areas seeing highs just above zero and wind-chill readings of minus-10 and colder.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Cape Cod, coastal areas north and south of Boston and part of Maine as well as New York's Long Island, where 8 to 10 inches of snow could fall and winds could gust to 45 mph. Fourteen to 18 inches of snow were forecast, with up to 2 feet in some areas along the Massachusetts coast.

"We're going to see a lot of snow and a lot of wind," forecaster Jason Tuell said. "We're concerned about whiteout conditions possibly tonight with the blowing and drifting snow."

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Thursday night state offices that closed early Thursday would remain closed on Friday. He said National Guard members and state police were on standby for any high tide flooding overnight or Friday in vulnerable coastal areas, but no mandatory evacuations have been ordered.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered three major highways in New York, stretching from Long Island to Albany, to close overnight Thursday. He said the highways should reopen at 5 a.m. Friday.

Efforts were underway to get homeless people off the streets of New York City and Boston and into the warmth and safety of shelters Thursday evening. Outreach teams in New York were looking for people who needed beds in shelters.

In Boston, staff members at the Pine Street Inn were keeping the shelter open 24-hours and said they would turn no one away, even if it meant setting up extra cots in lobbies and other common areas.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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A salt and sand road crew regroups under a bridge as snow falls in Andover, Mass., on Thursday. Up to 14 inches of snow is forecast for the Boston area.

The Associated Press

  


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