Tens of millions of people who live along the Philadelphia to Boston were forced to rush to home on Monday as a heavy snowfall swirled in with the potential for hurricane-force winds and 1 to 3 feet of snow that could paralyze the Northeast for days.
“Snow was coating cars and building up on sidewalks and roadways in New York City by evening, and light snow was falling in Boston. Forecasters said the storm would build into a blizzard, and the brunt of it would hit late Monday and into Tuesday,” reports CBS News.
More than 7,700 flights in the hit by snow corridor were canceled, and many of planes will not take off until Wednesday. Schools and businesses let out early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left. Broadway stages went dark.
“It’s going to be ridiculous out there, frightening,” said postal deliveryman Peter Hovey, standing on a snowy commuter train platform in White Plains, New York.
“This will most likely be one of the largest blizzards in the history of New York City,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned.
He urged citizens to go home and stay there, adding: “People have to make smart decisions from this point on.”
Meanwhile, New Yorkers appeared to be divided on whether officials had over-reacted in ordering dramatic shutdowns ahead of the storm.
“The mayor was going based on the meteorologists. The meteorologists, they always mess up, it’s not an exact science,” said Vincent Pierce as he walked his bulldog on a snow-free Manhattan sidewalk before the storm began.
Others were frustrated that officials had preemptively shut the subway and ordered cabs off the roads.
“This made it a little difficult to go to my job. I usually take a taxi, but no taxis today,” said Greg Noble, 29, as he walked briskly to his maintenance job some 30 city blocks from his Manhattan home.
Cuomo defended the decisions, which had included a driving ban in New York City and its surrounding counties overnight.
“I would rather, if there is a lean one way or another, lean towards safety because I have seen the consequences the other way and it gets very frightening very quickly … we have had people die in storms,” Cuomo told reporters. “I would rather be in a situation where we say ‘We got lucky.'”
Brandon Bhajan, a security guard at a West 33rd Street building, said the situation early Tuesday was better than expected.
“We expected a lot more accumulation,” Bhajan said. “I feel like the wind is more of the problem than the actual snowfall. It’s rough to walk and it’s very, very cold.
“I don’t think they (city) overblew it. I think it’s like the situation with Ebola … if you over-cover people are ready and prepared rather than not giving it the attention it needs.”