New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed a travel ban on the nation’s largest city Saturday as a fast-moving storm dumped more than a foot of snow in Washington and stranded motorists for hours on icy interstates in Pennsylvania and Kentucky as it climbed up the East Coast.
All roads, as well as bridges and tunnels in and out of the city will close at 2:30 p.m., Cuomo said at a news conference. MTA bus service was canceled at noon, and subway stations located above ground were closing at 4 p.m.
New York could see 25 to 30 inches of snow, with winds gusting up to 50 mph, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned earlier in the day. That would make it one of the top five storms in city history. De Blasio implored residents to stay indoors.
“We are going into uncharted territory here,” he said. “There’s absolutely no reason to be out in what will be one of the worst snowstorms in New York City history.”
At least 10 deaths were blamed on the storm, most of them in traffic accidents, since snow began falling Friday across large parts of the East Coast. Thousands of flights were canceled, and tens of thousands of homes were without electricity.
New York city officials reported 200 traffic accidents, as well as at least one fire believed to be caused by a space heater.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie returned from the campaign trail in New Hampshire on Friday night, telling reporters he drove home when flights were canceled.
While highways remained passable, about 15,000 customers were without power across the southern coastal part of the state, Christie said.
In Kentucky, where some places got 18 inches of snow Friday, drivers on a long stretch of Interstate 75 south of Lexington were stranded overnight because of a string of crashes and poor visibility.
Motorists also were reported stranded along pockets of the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the Allegheny Mountain Tunnel in Somerset County.
By late morning Saturday, the storm had dumped more than a foot of snow in Washington, and there were expectations that the measure could rise to two feet in some areas by the end of the day.
As the heart of the storm moved on to New York, there were no fatalities in the capital, minimal power losses and no major roof collapses. Technically, the “great blizzard of 2016” was not even a blizzard when it hit Washington because it had failed to reach sustained winds of 35 mph.
Kids woke up to snow mountains they could barely climb and talked about sliding off the front of nearly buried cars. Their parents guided dogs amid desolate streets. Some tried to shovel as the snow kept falling.
“Are we out of the woods? No, no,” said Chris Geldart, the emergency management director for the District of Columbia, during a morning briefing. “This is still very much a dangerous storm.”
Geldart and Mayor Muriel Bowser emphasized that the storm was only half over and that the recovery phase had not even begun. They predicted that residents and city workers — who were reaching out to other states to get more snow-melting and clearing trucks — would be dealing with snow throughout the week.
“There are too many people on the streets, both driving and walking,” Bowser said, warning that emergency workers would have trouble seeing people because of low visibility. “We need you to stay home. This is an emergency event.”
There was danger that as the snow got heavier through the day, roofs and trees could falter. And as residents began to shovel, those with heart conditions could be at risk.
Washington’s snow totals, even if they do not surpass two feet, are still likely to wind up somewhere high in the record books and collective memories.
Many residents were eager to marvel at the novelty, muttering how unbelievable it was to see bicycles and playgrounds covered in snow, not to mention roofs and sidewalks.
Capitol Hill residents trekked with sleds in hand down East Capitol Street all the way to the Capitol to sled down the hill. The activity had been forbidden there in the past but was made legal this year by an act of Congress.
The neighborhood’s 19th Century row houses were piled high with mounds of snow. The usually bustling restaurant scene had slowed to quiet stillness: No mimosa brunches, unless they were held at home.
A few miles away, there were 16 inches of snow by 10 a.m. in the Cleveland Park neighborhood, home to many of the city’s elite and the world’s embassies. Firefighters were out clearing their station. Other than a city snowplow, just one vehicle was on the road; it immediately got stuck as it pulled out of an Exxon station.
Staff correspondent Bierman reported from Washington and special correspondent Hansen from New York.
Follow @Noahbierman on Twitter
Source Article from http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-east-coast-storm-20160123-story.html