(Updates with Cuomo and de Blasio comments, states of
By Elizabeth Dilts and Scott Malone
NEW YORK/BOSTON Jan 2 The governors of New York
and New Jersey declared a state of emergency and urged residents
to stay indoors as a major storm hit the northeastern United
States on Thursday, bringing heavy snow and delaying or
canceling thousands of flights.
The first major winter storm of 2014 brought dangerously low
temperatures and strong winds from the lower Mississippi Valley
to the Atlantic coast, with parts of New England including
Boston bracing for as much as 14 inches (36 cm) of snow by
"As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high
winds to many parts of the state, I strongly urge all New
Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel and stay indoors," New
York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Amid flight cancellations that hit just as many travelers
were returning from holiday breaks, officials at Boston's Logan
International Airport warned that takeoffs would likely end at
about 8:30 p.m. (0130 GMT) and officials at New York area
airports set up cots for potential stranded travelers.
The snowfall was expected to intensify after sunset, with
the heaviest accumulation coming overnight. Some cities along
the storm's southern edge expect only minimal snowfall.
Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie both ordered
state offices closed on Friday for non-essential employees,
saying they expected the worst to hit between late Thursday and
early Friday morning.
"The real action is going to get cranked up this evening and
during the overnight hours. We'll have heavy snow, windy
conditions, reduced visibilities," said Kim Buttrick, a
meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton,
DE BLASIO'S BIG TEST
The storm posed the first major challenge to the
administration of New York's new mayor, Bill de Blasio. Problems
from digging out from snowstorms have been political havoc for
mayors in the United States' biggest city for decades.
After his first emergency management meeting, De Blasio
urged New Yorkers to get off the streets as soon as possible and
let snow crews do their work.
"This is the first of many times I will say please stay
indoors. Stay out of your cars. If you don't need to go out,
please don't go out," he said.
The powerful storm forced about 1,807 U.S. flights to be
canceled and about 4,536 delayed, with Chicago's O'Hare
International and Newark's Liberty International Airport the
worst-affected airports, according to FlightAware, a website
that tracks air travel.
New York's three major airports were preparing to
accommodate stranded travelers whose flights were canceled.
"We have a few hundred cots at each of the airports should
you decide to become an overnight guest," said Thomas Bosco, an
official with the Port Authority of New York and Jersey, at New
York's LaGuardia Airport. The authority also runs Newark and
John F. Kennedy International Airport.
One traveler, 23-year-old Ruben Raskin of San Jose,
California, who was in the area visiting his girlfriend, worried
that his Friday flight out of Logan could be delayed or
"It kind of reminds me why I moved to San Jose after going
to college out here," Raskin said.
Conditions in Boston were bad enough by afternoon that the
"Frozen Fenway" winter carnival, featuring sledding and college
ice-hockey at the baseball stadium where the Red Sox play, was
canceled for Thursday and Friday.
TEMPERATURES TO PLUMMET
The weather service said the mass of Arctic air would drop
temperatures to levels 20 to 30 degrees below normal, with
record lows possible on Friday.
"Temperatures are expected to plummet tonight and tomorrow
with wind chills dropping as low as 25 degrees below zero
Fahrenheit (-32 Celsius)," said Massachusetts Governor Deval
Patrick. "That is a very dangerous set of circumstances."
The low temperature in the contiguous United States on
Wednesday was -47 Fahrenheit (-43 Celsius), reached in Van
Buren, Maine, and tied in Babbitt and Embarrass, Minnesota, the
weather service said.
Patrick told non-essential state workers to head home at 3
p.m. ET (2000 GMT) as did his counterparts in neighboring
Connecticut. Both encouraged private-sector employers to
consider releasing their staff early.
Forecast snowfall varied widely, with Washington expected
to see under an inch (2 cm), Philadelphia and New York 4 to 8
inches (10-20 cm), Hartford 6 to 10 inches (15-25 cm) and Boston
8 to 14 inches (20-36 cm).
But even before the worst of the storm hit slippery road
conditions made driving a hazard in many storm-hit areas.
In Cleveland, Ohio, Chris Behm spent an hour trying to reach
the vocational training center for developmentally disabled
people where he works before calling the commute off and urging
his 19 employees to stay home.
"It was terrible on all of the roads and there is more
weather on its way," Behm said. "It just wasn't worth it to open
and possibly kill someone."
Officials in Boston and Providence said schools would be
closed on Friday, and in other districts throughout the region,
parents were bracing for the possibility their children would be
home on Friday.
"It's tough with these storms because I end up using days
off that I don't want to take," said Kristen Carson, who had
taken the train into Manhattan from her home in suburban
Montclair, New Jersey. "After the holiday, it's really kind of a
(Additional reporting by Victoria Cavaliere, Marina Lopes and
Scott DiSavino in New York, Daniel Lovering in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, Ian Simpson in Washington, Kim Palmer in
Cleveland and Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Ken Wills)