NEW YORK – Northeasterners scraped and shoveled Wednesday after a snowstorm grounded flights, shuttered schools and buried roads with a surprising amount of snow, leaving biting cold in its wake. The atmosphere was particularly frosty in New York, where the new mayor acknowledged flaws in the cleanup and some residents complained that schools remained open while children elsewhere in the region stayed home.
The storm stretched from Kentucky to New England but hit hardest along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between Philadelphia and Boston. As much as 14 inches of snow fell in Philadelphia, with New York City seeing almost as much, and parts of Massachusetts were socked with as many as 18 inches. Temperatures were in the single digits or the teens in many places Wednesday.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, facing one of the first flashpoints of his weeks-old tenure, initially defended what he called a “coordinated, intense, citywide response” to a storm he said caused a worse-than-expected headache when it ramped up at rush hour. And de Blasio, who campaigned on closing gaps between rich and poor city residents, at first rebuffed complaints that the effort had lagged on Manhattan’s posh Upper East Side, saying “no one was treated differently.”
But he backtracked Wednesday evening, saying he’d determined “more could have been done to serve the Upper East Side.”
Thirty more vehicles and nearly 40 more sanitation workers were sent to the area to finish the cleanup, de Blasio said in a statement that noted he still felt the citywide response, overall, “was well-executed.”
Elsewhere, the storm was blamed for at least one death – a driver was ejected from a car that fishtailed into the path of a tractor-trailer on a snow-covered Maryland road – and might have claimed more lives. Authorities were investigating three suspected weather-related deaths in Pennsylvania’s Delaware County, outside Philadelphia; a preliminary investigation showed weather conditions played a role in a two-vehicle crash that killed two people in Prince George’s County, Md.; and police said the storm may have factored in a deadly tractor-trailer wreck in Frederick County, Va.
Schools were closed in Boston, Philadelphia and many other places on the Eastern Seaboard. Federal workers in Washington got a two-hour delay in their work days Wednesday after a day off Tuesday because of the snow.
In downtown Jersey City, N.J., certified nurse’s aide Kerline Celestin waited for a bus Wednesday to head home after being stuck at work overnight due to the storm. The temperature was in the single digits.
“I didn’t want to be outside,” she said.
About 1,400 flights were canceled Wednesday into and out of some of the nation’s busiest airports, including in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, according to Flightaware.
The storm was a conventional one that developed off the coast and moved up the Eastern Seaboard, pulling in cold air from the Arctic. Unlike the epic freeze of two weeks ago, it was not caused by a kink in the polar vortex, the winds that circulate around the North Pole.