NEW YORK, United States (AP) — A dangerous winter storm brought significant snowfall, strong thunderstorms and blustery winds to the north-eastern US on Monday, a public holiday.
A foot (30 centimetres) or more of snow fell in parts of New York state, Ohio and Pennsylvania Sunday night through Monday morning, and tens of thousands of customers in the region were without power.
Forecasters in Buffalo, New York, said the snow was falling fast, dumping almost 17 inches (43 centimetres) by 10:00 am. The city advised people not to travel if they didn't need to on this Martin Luther King Jr Day, while some surrounding towns instituted a travel ban.
“WOW! (Latest) snow measurement at 1:00 AM was 4.6 inches in the last hour at the Buffalo Airport!” the National Weather Service in Buffalo tweeted overnight. “And tack on another four inches in the last hour ending at 2 AM! Total so far since late Sunday evening — 10.2 inches.”
The weather service said 17 inches (43 centimetres) or more of snow were reported in Ashtabula County in north-east Ohio.
“We've had a very strong area of low pressure that's kind of moved up the coast, with pretty heavy snowfall accumulations from Tennessee, North Carolina all the way into the north-east,” said meteorologist Marc Chenard at the weather service's headquarters in College Park, Maryland.
New York City got less than an inch of snow, which was washed away by rain overnight. The weather service said spotty showers and snow showers might continue through Monday night.
Forecasters said wind gusts in New York City could top out around 45 mph (72 kph), and around 60 mph (97 kph) on Long Island.
Sleet and rain were the main threats for much of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Periods of snowfall transitioned to rain overnight. NWS meteorologists in Boston said wind gusts could reach 70 mph (113 kph).
The howling winds spread a fire that destroyed a motel and two other structures in coastal Salisbury, Massachusetts, early Monday.
The storm forced the closure of many COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites in the north-east Monday.
The massive winter system brought similar conditions Sunday to the south-east, where thousands were still without power Monday. Multiple states reported inches of snow, and two people died Sunday in North Carolina when when their car drove off the road and into trees in the median as the storm blew mixed precipitation through.
Severe thunderstorms in Florida spun up a tornado with 118 mph (190 kph) winds, destroying 30 mobile homes and majorly damaging 51 more. Three minor injuries were reported.
Wet roadways in the south were expected to refreeze Monday, creating icy conditions for motorists.
Plow trucks were scattered along roads and highways up the East Coast, working to clear the way for travellers. Some crashes were reported in the early morning hours, including an ambulance involved in a wreck on Interstate 279 in Pittsburgh, KDKA-TV reported. It was unclear whether anyone was injured.