A partially frozen Niagara Falls seen on the American side during sub freezing temperatures in Ontario, Canada, yesterday. Severe weather caused by a powerful winter storm hit the US East Coast disrupting flights, and closing schools and offices.
WASHINGTON: A powerful winter storm hit the US East Coast yesterday with freezing rain, snow and arctic cold, forcing cancellation of about 2,250 flights, shutting down Washington and closing schools and local governments.
The latest of a series of weather systems to pummel the winter-weary eastern United States, the storm was expected to blanket the US capital with up to 9 inches (23 cm) of snow as it swept from the Mississippi Valley to the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states, the National Weather Service said.
Brian Hurley, a weather service meteorologist, said temperatures would be about 15 degrees Celsius below normal as a cold front gripped from the Great Plains to the Atlantic coast.
“It’s really, really cold, temperatures dropping into the teens (minus 7 to minus 10 Celsius) and the normal highs are around 10C at this point,” said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Although the snow is expected to bypass northern cities including New York and Boston, by early yesterday New York’s temperature had already peaked at -5 C, he said.
“This is yet another in a series of arctic outbreaks all winter,” Hurley said.
Freeze warnings were in place from the Canadian border into Texas. The main electric grid operator for most of Texas issued a conservation alert due to expected higher power demand.
The storm shrouded the Capitol in snow and prompted the US government to shutter its Washington area offices, keeping hundreds of thousands of federal workers at home. Congress put off scheduled votes because of the bad weather.
The governors of New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi and Tennessee declared states of emergency, and schools and local governments throughout the area closed.