PHILADELPHIA – A swirling storm clobbered parts of the mid-Atlantic and the urban Northeast on Tuesday, dumping nearly a foot and a half of snow, grounding thousands of flights, closing government offices in the nation’s capital and making a mess of the evening commute.
The storm stretched 1,000 miles between Kentucky and Massachusetts but hit especially hard along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between Philadelphia and Boston, creating perilous rides home for millions of motorists.
The National Weather Service said Manalapan, N.J., got 16 inches of snow and Philadelphia’s airport saw 13.5. It said parts of New York City had 11 inches.
The snow came down harder and faster than many people expected. A blizzard warning was posted for parts of Massachusetts, including Cape Cod.
Highways in the New York City metropolitan area were jammed, and blowing snow tripled or even quadrupled drive times.
“I just want to get to the Bronx,” motorist Peter Neuwens lamented. “It’s a big place. Why can’t I get there?”
In Jersey City, N.J., Stanley Gaines, wearing just a thin jacket and huddling beneath an overhang as snow stung his face, said he had been stuck for more than an hour waiting for a ride home from his appointment at a Veterans Affairs clinic.
“I’m waiting on anything I can get: a taxi, a shuttle, a bus,” Gaines said, squinting to read the destination on an approaching bus in near white-out conditions. “I didn’t really pay attention to the weather this morning because there was no snow on the ground, and now – this!”
In White Plains, N.Y., Anthony Schirrone pulled over his car to scrape snow from the windshield.
“I just did this five minutes ago,” he said. “But it’s coming down too fast.”
Parts of New England saw initial light snowfalls turn heavier as the night wore on. Foxboro, Mass., and Providence, R.I., each received about 11 inches of snow by midnight, and Stamford, Conn., got 9. Forecasters said the storm could be followed by more bitter cold as arctic air from Canada streams in.
In Maryland, 11 inches of snow had accumulated in Northeast Heights. The storm was blamed for at least one death in the state, that of a driver whose car fishtailed into the path of a tractor-trailer on a snow-covered road 50 miles northwest of Baltimore. And police said the storm might have claimed more lives: A preliminary investigation showed wet conditions played a role in a two-vehicle crash that killed two people in Prince George’s County, Md.
The storm was a conventional one that developed off the coast and moved its way up the Eastern Seaboard, pulling in cold air from the arctic. Unlike the epic freeze of two weeks ago, it wasn’t caused by a kink in the polar vortex, the winds that circulate around the North Pole.
About 3,000 flights for Tuesday were canceled, with airports from Washington to Boston affected. More than 1,000 flights for today were called off as well. Amtrak planned to cut back train service.