A major winter storm that buried millions across the Northeast on Monday brought blizzard-like conditions, forcing states across the region to cancel vaccine appointments, suspend flights, and close roads and schools.
The National Weather Service warned that widespread heavy snow of 1 to 2 feet is forecast from Pennsylvania into New England through Tuesday, with snowfall rates reaching up to three inches an hour and wind gusts peaking as high as 60 mph.
- As of Monday afternoon, the nor’easter has pelted Chicago with 10.8 inches of snow and New York City with 13.3 inches. Philadelphia and Boston are projected to get as much as 12 inches overnight.
- Northern and Central New Jersey were particularly hard hit, with Mendham Township recording 27 inches and the community of Ledgewood recording 26 inches as of 5 p.m. ET.
- A vast number of flights have been suspended at major airports, including all flights at LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport. About 75 percent of flights at Newark Liberty International Airport were canceled.
- Many Covid-19 vaccination appointments were cancelled and rescheduled in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York City.
NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins said the tristate area could see its biggest snowstorm in five years, while New York City could get between 12 and 18 inches of snow, with up to 20 inches possible if one of the heavy snow bands sits over the city Monday afternoon.
Karins said the National Weather Service’s New York office forecast has called for 21 inches in Central Park, which would tie it for the fourth largest snowstorm in New York City’s history.
Periods of light snow will continue on and off through early Tuesday, he added.
Four people appear to have died in the storm, all of them in Pennsylvania. In Luzerne County, a married couple was allegedly killed on Monday morning after a dispute over snow removal, the Associated Press reported. The suspect was later found dead with what authorities believe was a self-inflicted wound, according to the AP.
In Allentown, a 67-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease died of hypothermia after wandering away from her home, NBC Philadelphia reported. Her body was found four blocks away on Monday morning.
Local authorities warn against travel
The National Weather Service warned that travel conditions will be “difficult to impossible” across the northeast.
The Maryland State Patrol said Monday morning they answered almost 900 calls and responded to 330 crashes and about 150 disabled or unattended vehicles on Sunday. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said during a Monday news conference that state troopers have responded to 340 accidents and 295 motorist aid calls.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a Monday press conference that the city has a “big challenge on our hands.”
“Blizzard conditions, stay off the roads, stay off the streets,” de Blasio said. “We do not want any non-essential traveling going on.”
The mayor said schools would be closed on Monday and Tuesday, but are expected to reopen on Wednesday. He added that health officials are rescheduling appointments for coronavirus vaccinations on Monday and Tuesday.
“The last thing we want to do is urge our seniors to come out in the middle of a storm like this,” de Blasio said on Sunday, warning residents not to underestimate weather conditions.
The mayor tweeted on Sunday that nonessential travel will be restricted in New York City starting at 6 a.m. Monday as part of a local state of emergency.
“This winter storm will be dangerous with heavy snowfall and strong winds,” de Blasio said. “If you can stay home, stay home.”
Among other states that closed major coronavirus vaccination sites are Rhode Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.
All flights at LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport were canceled on Monday. Newark Liberty International Airport has canceled about 75 percent of its flights.
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Other areas of the country were also hit
The storm had already blanketed parts of the Midwest in the most snow some places had seen in several years. Chicago got almost 11 inches of snow by Monday morning. In Wisconsin, snow depths in some counties near Lake Michigan had reached more than 15 inches.
A video showed the second largest Great Lake impressively frozen over with a coat of snow on Monday.
Snow also hit the Washington metropolitan area, with over two inches reported in several areas, but another round of snow is possible Monday morning. The city’s inclement weather prompted President Joe Biden to postpone a visit to the State Department that had been planned for Monday, a White House official told NBC News.
While people in affected areas were advised to remain indoors and avoid traveling, the giant pandas at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., took full advantage of the winter wonderland and were captured on camera frolicking in the snow.
Steve Strouss, David K. Li and Tim Stelloh contributed.