Millions of people have been affected by a dangerous winter storm that dropped more than a foot of snow across the Northeast on Thursday, blanketing cities like New York and Pennsylvania and forcing U.S. airlines to cancel more than 2,000 flights in two days.
The winter storm also has been responsible for at least nine deaths, including several from fatal car accidents.
Snowfall began on Thursday afternoon, and before Friday morning the East Coast was experiencing dangerous winds and temperatures below freezing.
Some cities saw temperatures as low as 8 degrees with the wind chill reaching 29 below zero in parts of Vermont.
According to FlightAware.com, there are 100 to 200 flight cancellations on average each day, but roughly 2,000 flights were canceled on Thursday with hundreds more canceled on Friday morning.
Governors in New York and New Jersey have declared states of emergency and are asking residents to stay at home during the extreme weather.
“This is nothing to be trifled with,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “People should seriously consider staying in their homes.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick also urged people to stay home in a public statement on Thursday, reminding residents that while the snow is “nice to look at,” the below freezing temperatures are “very, very dangerous.”
The freezing temperatures and nearly two feet of snow have forced most of the schools in the Northeast to close and state officials in New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey are asking business owners to close up shop until weather conditions improve.
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“I just run from heated car to heated building,” said Kathy Woodfin who made her way to work at 9 a.m. when it was only 7 degrees. “It’s just like down South, where they run from air-conditioned car to air-conditioned building.”
Amtrak still has plans to run trains on all of its Northeast lines but will be forced to operate on a modified schedule, according to spokeswoman Christina Leeds.
The connecting lines between New York City and parts of Connecticut, Long Island and New York’s Hudson Valley, and the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit will be following weekend schedules.
Chains have been placed on New York City buses so they would not get stuck in snow drifts, and they are also expected to operate on modified schedules.
Before reaching the Northeast, the same winter storm dropped more than a foot of snow in several Midwest states including parts of Illinois and Michigan.
As severe as this winter weather is, it still pales in comparison to the massive storm system that hit New York last February and forced nearly 4,000 flight cancellations and hundreds of delays.