NEW YORK – Planes began landing again Monday at two of the nation’s busiest airports after a blizzard that clobbered the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow grounded flights in the New York metropolitan area, stranding thousands of travelers trying to get home after the holidays.
A Royal Jordanian flight was the first to arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport, shortly before 7 p.m., said Steve Coleman, of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airports.
An Air Canada flight from Toronto landed at LaGuardia Airport at about 7:40 p.m.
The storm walloped the Northeast on Sunday, stymieing most means of transportation. Flights were grounded. Buses sputtered to a halt in snowdrifts. Trains stopped in their tracks. Taxi drivers abandoned their cabs in the middle of New York’s snow-clogged streets. Even the New York City subway system – usually dependable during a snowstorm – broke down in spots, trapping riders for hours.
Snowfall totals included a foot in Tidewater, Va., and Philadelphia, 29 inches in parts of northern New Jersey, 2 feet north of New York City, and more than 18 inches in Boston.
Some airline passengers could be stuck for days. Many planes are booked solid because of the busy holiday season, and airlines are operating fewer flights because of the economic downturn.
Many side streets in New York City remained unplowed well into the day, and pedestrians stumbled over drifts and trudged through knee-deep snow in some places. Some New Yorkers complained that snowplow crews were neglecting neighborhoods in the outer boroughs in favor of Manhattan.
A testy Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the city’s cleanup effort, saying the furious pace of the snowfall – 2 to 3 inches per hour – required crews to plow streets repeatedly to keep them open. And abandoned cars slowed the process further because plows could not get through, he said.
“It’s being handled by the best professionals in the business,” Bloomberg said, urging people not to get upset. “It’s a snowstorm, and it really is inconvenient for a lot of people.”