NEW YORK (AP) — A dangerous winter storm was bringing significant snowfall, strong thunderstorms and blustery winds to the northeastern U.S. on a holiday Monday.
A foot (30 centimeters) of snow was forecast for parts of New England, New York state, Ohio and Pennsylvania through Tuesday morning, and more than 80,000 customers in the region were without power as of Monday morning.
Forecasters in Buffalo, New York, said the snow was falling fast, dumping more than 16 inches (40 centimeters) by 8 a.m. The city advised people not to travel if they didn’t need to on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, while some surrounding towns instituted a travel ban.
“WOW! (Latest) snow measurement at 1 AM was 4.6 inches in the last hour at the Buffalo Airport!” the National Weather Service in Buffalo tweeted overnight. “And tack on another 4 inches in the last hour ending at 2 AM! Total so far since late Sun evening – 10.2 inches.”
New York City and Boston were spared the heaviest snowfall, which was accumulating at higher elevations in western Massachusetts, eastern Pennsylvania and parts of New England.
A severe thunderstorm warning remained in effect for New York City early Monday, and high winds made travel treacherous across the region.
“We’ve had a very strong area of low pressure that’s kind of moved up the coast, with pretty heavy snowfall accumulations from Tennessee, North Carolina all the way into the northeast,” said meteorologist Marc Chenard at the weather service’s headquarters in College Park, Maryland.
The highest snowfall accumulations so far have been in the North Carolina mountains, at over a foot, Chenard said.
“The bigger cities — New York, Boston — it’s warmed up, it’s rain there,” he said.
Forecasters said wind gusts in New York City could top out around 45 mph (72 kph), and around 60 mph (97 kph) on Long Island.
Sleet and rain were the main threats for much of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Periods of snowfall transitioned to rain overnight. NWS meteorologists in Boston said wind gusts could reach 70 mph (113 kph).
The howling winds spread a fire that destroyed a motel and two other structures in coastal Salisbury, Massachusetts, early Monday.
In New Hampshire, the state closed its five COVID-19 testing sites as well as a vaccine clinic.
The massive winter system brought similar conditions Sunday to the Southeast, where thousands were still without power Monday. Multiple states reported inches of snow, and two people died Sunday in North Carolina when when their car drove off the road and into trees in the median as the storm blew mixed precipitation through.
Severe thunderstorms in Florida spun up a tornado with 118 mph (190 kph) winds, destroying 30 mobile homes and majorly damaging 51 more. Three minor injuries were reported.
Wet roadways in the South were expected to refreeze Monday, creating icy conditions for motorists.
Plow trucks were scattered along roads and highways up the East Coast, working to clear the way for travelers. Some crashes were reported in the early morning hours, including an ambulance involved in a wreck on Interstate 279 in Pittsburgh, KDKA-TV reported. It was unclear whether anyone was injured.