CHAOS AS HEAVY SNOWFALL HITS NEW YORK CITY OVERNIGHT
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is catching heat from all corners as several inches of November snow has virtually crippled one of America’s major cities.
The first snowfall of the season hit the New York City area on Thursday – and that meant the latest crisis for the region’s public transportation services.
In New York, the wet snowfall and wind gusts Thursday downed numerous tree branches. Police advised people to stay indoors and avoid the roads. Commuters also were advised to avoid the Port Authority Bus Terminal — which is also used by many to travel to New Jersey — due to overcrowding. The poor weather made it difficult for buses to reach the terminal, officials said. And a multi-vehicle accident on the George Washington Bridge added to the traffic nightmare.
Perhaps the greatest crisis point Thursday evening was the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The facility became so crowded with rush-hour commuters waiting for delayed buses amid the snowstorm that managers blocked more travelers from entering around 5:15 p.m., the New York Post reported.
There were scattered delays on the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit reported 30-minute delays system wide.
More than 4,600 flights were delayed and hundreds cancelled by the storm affecting travelers at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports. Some airports in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts also experienced delays and cancellations.
Forecasters said the snow should turn to mostly sleet and rain before changing to rain overnight.
As much as 8 inches of snow blanketed the St. Louis area, and forecasters predicted up to 6 inches in parts of southern New England as the storm made its way east. They also predicted northern New Jersey could see 4 to 8 inches of snow before the system exits the region early Friday, while parts of suburban Philadelphia had 5 inches of snow by Thursday afternoon.
“I’m infuriated and my bus line is awful as it is and I’ve never seen it like this,” Kristen Norton, 23, of Bloomfield, N.J., told the newspaper. “We are going to try and get a drink — seems like a sensible thing to do.”
Port Authority managers said snow and ice conditions made it difficult for some buses to reach the terminal’s upper levels, New York City’s FOX 5 reported.
Rail conditions weren’t much better. Some users of New Jersey’s NJ Transit waited more than two hours to board a train. The Long Island Railroad also saw delays, FOX 5 reported.
Both rail services run out of Penn Station in Midtown, which sees frequent commuter congestion even on sunny days, because of delayed and canceled trains. One reason is ongoing track work on the aging lines.
Weather officials said the overnight trace in Alabama missed setting a record for earliest snow by about two weeks.
In neighboring Mississippi, a tour bus bound for a casino overturned, killing two people and injuring 44 others Wednesday afternoon. Witnesses said the driver lost control after crossing an icy overpass and the bus rolled over on its driver's side, coming to rest in an interstate median, Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Capt. Johnny Poulos said. The crash happened about 35 miles southeast of downtown Memphis, Tennessee.
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