Three people were killed in car crashes on Wednesday evening as a powerful nor’easter rolled across the East Coast bringing up to two feet of snow and creating treacherous conditions on thousands of miles of roadways.
More than 60 million people were placed under weather warnings before Winter Storm Gail began blanketing areas from northern Virginia to New York City to southern Maine with powder as governors around the region urged residents to stay safe indoors.
Two people died in a pile-up involving dozens of vehicles on Interstate 80 in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, state police said.
A 19-year-old man from North Carolina, Brannagan Locklear, was also killed in a car crash in Virginia, according to authorities. A spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police said the agency had responded to about 200 calls about collisions by 3pm.
In the Big Apple, which is set to see its heaviest December snowfall in a decade with 12 inches forecast, road conditions deteriorated rapidly over the course of the afternoon before the FDNY reported a crash involving 20 cars on the Henry Hudson Parkway in the Bronx at about 6.30pm.
NYC: People wait for buses amid heavy snowfall in Manhattan on Wednesday night after the Port Authority shut down routes due to inclement weather from Winter Storm Gail
NYC: A snowplow moves through Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood on Wednesday night
PENNSYLVANIA: Two people died in a pile-up involving dozens of vehicles on Interstate 80 in Clinton County, state police said
MARYLAND: In Maryland, state police reported a sharp spike in traffic calls soon after the weather arrived, including 161 crashes and numerous stalled or abandoned vehicles on icy roadways
NEW JERSEY: A line of cars passes through Cliffside Park amid heavy snow on Wednesday night
At least six people were reportedly injured in that collision, as first responders worked to free others who were ‘pinned’ in their vehicles.
‘Take this seriously,’ Mayor Bill de Blasio warned in a tweet hours before the Bronx crash as he announced that New York City Schools would be closed for in person learning Thursday.
In Maryland, state police reported a sharp spike in traffic calls soon after the weather arrived, including 161 crashes and numerous stalled or abandoned vehicles on icy roadways.
More than 57,200 homes and businesses in Virginia were without power as of 10pm, per poweroutage.us, along with another 11,600 in New Jersey.
Despite increasingly treacherous road conditions COVID-19 vaccine shippers said they would not let Winter Storm Gail affect distribution – but that they have made additional plans in case it does.
Some hospitals said they were anticipating delays in shipments as the roads worsened through Wednesday night. Weather conditions also prompted several major cities, including New York, Baltimore and Hartford to suspend COVID-19 testing until further notice, while hospitals around the region, already struggling with surges in virus patients, pushed back elective surgeries to make room for storm-related admissions.
Winter Storm Gail began blanketing areas from northern Virginia to New York City to southern Maine with powder on Wednesday afternoon as governors around the region urged residents to stay safe indoors
NYC: Snow begins to accumulate on barricades in Times Square on Wednesday evening. Snowfall in the Big Apple is set to be the heaviest December in a decade with 12 inches forecast
NYC: New Yorkers play around in the snow as Times Square is blanketed in a layer of powder on Wednesday evening
NYC: A family plays in the snow in Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood on Wednesday night
NYC: Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents of the Big Apple to take the storm seriously and stay inside when possible
NYC: Commuters walk through Midtown Manhattan amid heavy snowfall on Wednesday night
PHILADELPHIA: Pedestrians walk along the trail near the Philadelphia Museum of Art as snow falls. The National Weather Service predicts central Pennsylvania will see the heaviest snowfall from Winter Storm Gail, with up to two feet
WASHINGTON: A mix of rain and snow falls outside the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday
PITTSBURGH: People walk along the North Shore at Point State Park on Wednesday night
There are warnings in place from northern Georgia to New England, with forecasters predicting snow, ice, school closures and power outages across the country.
The National Weather Service said the heaviest snowfall is forecast across central Pennsylvania, which could see up to two feet of snow. ‘This will likely lead to very dangerous, if not impossible, travel conditions and isolated power outages’, the agency added.
In a forecast The National Weather Service said: ‘Between the snow in the north and the rain in the south, a wintry mix is forecast to stretch across the southern Appalachians and the interior Mid-Atlantic roughly along the I-95 corridor.
‘Freezing rain is the main concern across this region, as upwards of a quarter inch of ice accretion is possible. This could lead to scattered tree damage and power outages.
‘As the precipitation shield advances north throughout the day, heavy snow will overtake areas northwest of I-95 in the Mid-Atlantic. This means major cities, such as Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, will likely see a wintry mix and potentially plain rain for areas just to the southeast.
‘Further north and east, heavy snow will also encroach upon much of the Northeast and southern New England this evening, including New York City and Boston.’
More than 1,300 flights have already been canceled with train operator Amtrak forced to modify its service. Several airlines, including American, Delta, Southwest and United, said they are waiving change fees for flights that might be affected as well.
The travel disruptions threaten to throw a wrench in efforts to distribute America’s first COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer, which began on Sunday.
But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday said he is confident that the companies transporting vaccine shipments will be able to navigate the storm, He added that the government is tracking shipments precisely and has staffers in place to receive them.
‘This is FedEx, this is UPS express shipping. They know how to deal with snow and bad weather. But we are on it and following it,’ Azar told Fox & Friends.
A FedEx spokesperson told CNN: ‘We have a team of 15 meteorologists monitoring conditions 24/7, and we have contingency plans in place should we see any severe weather.’ Operation Warp Speed’s Gen Gustave Perna confirmed a ‘safety stock’ of doses should the bad weather cause problems.
UPS said in a statement: ‘We develop contingency plans based on weather forecasts and local conditions, enabling our employees to safely deliver what matters most.’
A spokesman for St Luke’s University Health Network, which has 12 hospitals across Pennsylvania and New Jersey, said it had expected to receive its first vaccine shipment on Thursday but now fears it could be delayed.
NYC: Snow begins to fall in Times Square at about 3.30pm EST on Wednesday
NYC: Friends brave wintry weather in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood on Wednesday evening
NYC: A woman bikes through heavy snowfall in Times Square on Wednesday evening
NYC: City workers clear snow off bleachers in Times Square on Wednesday evening
NYC: Officials in the Big Apple began warning of Winter Storm Gail’s arrival earlier this week. Pictured: Snow begins to stick on the road at an intersection in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood
NYC: A man bikes through slush on a road in Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood on Wednesday night
NYC: A woman takes a pic of a child enjoying fresh snowfall in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood
NYC: Cartoon impersonators in Times Square look up at the falling snow on Wednesday afternoon in the heart of Manhattan
NYC: A couple huddle up to keep warm as snow begins to fall on 14th Street in Manhattan on Wednesday
NYC: A man salts the sidewalk outside businesses in the East Village after snow began to fall on Wednesday
NYC: People take selfies in the snow falling around Times Square on Wednesday evening
In Pennsylvania, which is expected to see the heaviest snowfall, Gov Tom Wolf signed the disaster emergency proclamation on Tuesday to free up funding for the state’s response.
‘This proclamation makes it easier for all of those involved in vaccine delivery and keeping people safe to do their jobs,’ Wolf said.
New Jersey Gov Phil Murphy also declared a state of emergency effective 2pm Wednesday as the state prepared to restrict commercial traffic from some highways because of the storm.
Murphy said his administration would exempt trucks transporting vaccines from travel restrictions, as the state’s hospitals are expected to receive 35 deliveries over the next two days.
‘Our theme today ought to be: “If it’s not one thing, it’s another,”‘ Murphy said as he gave residents storm guidance that’s new this year — mask up if you help your neighbors shovel.
Massachusetts Gov Charlie Baker likewise raised the alarm as Boston braced for up to a foot of snow.
‘If you absolutely don’t have to travel tonight or tomorrow, it would be great if you could just stay put and let the road crews do the work that they need to do,’ he said.
‘The last thing we all need to deal with right now, in the midst of everything else that’s going on, are car accidents and other collisions as a result of what will be fairly treacherous driving conditions.’
New York Gov Andrew Cuomo said officials anticipate announcing a state of emergency in several counties in the Hudson Valley from 6pm Wednesday. ‘This is going to be statewide,’ he added.
Cuomo said the storm is not expected to disrupt New York’s vaccine shipments because it already received its first shipment and the second isn’t due to arrive until next week.
Forecasted snowfall in New York State Wednesday. Gov Andrew Cuomo said Monday: ‘Forecasts are calling for this season’s first major snowstorm in the Hudson Valley and points south, so it’s once again time for New Yorkers to find their shovels’
NYC: The New York City Emergency Management Department brought in 330,000 tons of salt and 2,000 vehicles to plow the streets in anticipation of ‘heavy snow and breezing conditions could cause near-blizzard conditions’
PHILADELPHIA: Two woman wait for the bus during a snow fall in Center City, Philadelphia, Wednesday
WASHINGTON DC: Sen Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) struggles with her umbrella outside in the snow at the Capitol Wednesday
WASHINGTON DC: A snowman is setup on a ledge near the Capitol on Wednesday. A major winter storm is expected to dump inches of snow and rain on the DC area on Wednesday as it blankets much of the eastern US in wintry weather
The New York City Emergency Management Department brought in 330,000 tons of salt and 2,000 vehicles to plow the streets in anticipation of ‘heavy snow and breezing conditions could cause near-blizzard conditions’.
Pictures taken by the DailyMail.com Tuesday and Wednesday show New Yorkers stocking up for the bad weather, buying shovels, salt and sleds.
The city’s Sanitation Department issued a snow alert forcing restaurants and bars to close their outdoor dining, effective 2pm Wednesday.
De Blasio said Tuesday he hoped for outdoor dining to be back by Thursday after restaurants were told last Friday that from Sunday they would not longer be able to offer indoor dining for at least two weeks.
New York City restaurants are not being required to break down wooden shacks and other structures they’ve set up in parking spaces for outdoor dining during the pandemic.
But the city wants them to remove or secure outdoor furniture, remove heaters and the tops of their structures to make way for the plows that typically push piles of snow into parking spaces.
Laura Montalvo, co-owner of the Columbian restaurant La Masa, told The New York Daily News: ‘We’re pulling it apart. We don’t want any problems, because everyone has different regulations. Less headache we gotta worry about.’
Testing centers at New York City hospitals were closed from 2pm, while Rhode Island also suspended all testing.
Crews from Brattleboro, Vt., Public Works Department loads up plow trucks with road salt on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, before the start of the winter storm that is to hit the area Wednesday night and will go into Thursday
Department of Sanitation vehicles and buses were equipped with chains on their tires Wednesday in NYC
Pictures taken by the DailyMail.com Tuesday and Wednesday show New Yorkers stocking up for the bad weather, buying shovels, salt and sleds. Outdoor dining has been forced to close with many restaurants
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Tuesday that schools may close for in person learning Thursday but insisted remote classes would continue. Officials also confirmed COVID-19 testing centers will also shut from Wednesday afternoon
NYC: In addition to the usual rolling out of plows and salt spreaders, the nation’s most populous city was adding some pandemic-era preparations to its list, such as closing city-run testing sites Wednesday afternoon and suspending outdoor dining in the sometimes elaborate spaces that now occupy parking spaces outside some restaurants
NYC: The eateries aren’t being required to break down their wooden enclosures and other structures for outdoor dining, currently the only form of restaurant table service allowed in the city. But they are being told to secure outdoor furniture, remove heaters and take other steps to make way for plows
NYC: The city’s snow-removal chief, Acting Sanitation Commissioner Ed Grayson, said the agency had been planning and training since summer to maneuver around the structures, pictured Wednesday
Washington, DC, also deployed more than 300 snow plows to apply salt to highways, streets, ramps, bridges and elevated roadways overnight Tuesdays as forecasters predicted Gail would bring a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain.
The capital region was placed under a winter weather advisory and a flood watch on Wednesday.
First daughter Ivanka Trump took to Twitter to share a video of snow falling around the White House this afternoon.
‘First snowfall of the season,’ she wrote with a snowflake emoji.
PENNSYLVANIA: Traffic moves slowly in Pottsville as the snow begins to fall with Winter Storm Gail on Wednesday
PENNSYLVANIA: A man trudges through accumulating snow as he departs work on Wednesday in Wilkes Barre