New York has declared a state of emergency and warned people to stay indoors as a snowstorm dubbed ‘Hercules’ sweeps across the Northeastern United States, causing thousands of flight cancellations.
The governors of both New York and New Jersey declared the state of emergency as high winds and heavy snowfall swept in overnight, while parts of New England – including Boston – are expecting up to 14 inches of snow as the storm moves east from the MidWestern states.
Boston’s Logan International Airport saw up to a quarter of flights cancelled on Thursday afternoon and evening due to the severe weather, while JFK, LaGuardia and Newark have also seen hundreds of cancellations, according to Flight Aware.
So far, more than 2,500 cancellations and 7,000 delays across the country have been documented by the flight information website, with 1,483 flights listed as cancelled on Friday and Newark and Chicago O’Hare hit the hardest. More than 700 flights were cancelled at the three New York City-area airports, stranding passengers. Newark saw more than 350 flights cancelled, while LaGuardia experienced 250 cancellations and JFK a further 100, according to a Port Authority spokeswoman.
Accommodating stranded passengers
The three major airports have contingency plans in place to accommodate stranded passengers.
Thomas Bosco, an official with the Port Authority of New York and Jersey, explained: ‘We have a few hundred cots at each of the airports should you decide to become an overnight guest.’
On Thursday, Virgin Atlantic cancelled one Boston flight, as well as a flight to JFK and Newark, while British Airways cancelled flights to New York, Boston and Phildelphia.
BA has two cancellations expected on Friday, both to JFK, while Virgin Atlantic hopes to operate as normal, although both airlines urge passengers to check online for updates.
Keeping an eye on weather conditions
A spokesperson for Virgin said: ‘Virgin Atlantic is monitoring the weather conditions on the east coast of the United States closely and is planning to operate flights as scheduled.
‘The safety of our passengers and crew is our number one priority. We thank passengers for their patience and understanding and ask they continue to check our website for the latest information on all flight schedules before travelling to the airport.’
A BA spokesperson added: ‘We are doing all we can to help customers whose flights have been affected by the severe snow storms along the east coast of America.
‘We are rebooking customers from cancelled services onto alternative flights or offering a full refund.
‘We will also work with our partner American Airlines and look to put on larger aircraft to help customers get to their final destination as quickly as possible.’
One third of US affected by storms
Almost one-third of the population of the U.S. is expected to be affected by the storms, which has hit the MidWest as well as Northeastern states, with tourists visiting cities for winter shopping breaks also suffering.
Residents and visitors have been urged to stay indoors to avoid the plunging temperatures and to avoid driving, instead opting for public transport if they do have to travel.
New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, said: ‘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.’
Wind gusts were expected to reach 45mph, with up to 10 inches of snow expected on Long Island and up to eight inches in New York City itself. Chicago is expecting to see up to 11 inches of snow blanketing the city.
Speaking about conditions in the Northeast, Jared Guyer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said: ‘That whole region is blanketed in winter storm warnings, which will continue at least through the morning hours if not beyond.’
Source: Daily Mail