East Coast Storm Plays Havoc With Travel Plans
Thousands of travelers trying to get home after the holiday weekend sat bored and bleary-eyed in airports and shivered aboard stuck buses and subway trains Monday, stranded by a blizzard that slammed the Northeast with more than 2 feet of show. But travel is slowly getting back on track.
On Monday evening, planes began landing again at New York's LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airport. Newark Liberty was expected to start receiving inbound flights early Tuesday. Nearly 1,500 total flights were canceled at all three airports.
The National Weather Service said Central Park had gotten 20 inches of snow. Almost 30 inches of snow fell in Bergen County, N.J. Snowfall totals included a foot in Tidewater, Va., and Philadelphia and more than 18 inches in Boston. Snowfall totals of 16 inches or more were expected across Rhode Island, Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts, with winds building up drifts much higher.
During the day Monday, many commuters appeared to be heeding the call to stay off the roads. Officials in New York City say it could take 24 hours to clear all the streets, a task made more difficult because of many cars abandoned during the storm.
U.S. airlines scrambled to rebook passengers on thousands of canceled flights — more than 1,400 out of the New York City area's three major airports alone — but said they didn't expect normal service to resume until Tuesday.
Some airline passengers could be stuck for days. Many planes are booked solid because of the busy holiday season, and airlines are operating fewer flights because of the economic downturn.
Anna Sallig, stranded at New York's Penn Station trying to get a train, was on a Christmas flight from Copenhagen. She's trying to get to Raleigh, N.C., to join her family for a vacation.
"I'd been traveling for more than 24 hours when I found out I wasn't going any further yesterday," she said. "I'm hoping I'm going to reach Raleigh some time today."
In New Jersey, the state's transit system has suspended bus service as the cleanup continues. In Monmouth, the snow marooned two passenger buses carrying about 50 people, some with diabetes, on the Garden State Parkway.
Motorists abandoned their cars on several New York City roadways. Department of Transportation spokesman Francis Suarez said a tractor-trailer and at least two cars were abandoned on the westbound Brooklyn-Queens Expressway near Hamilton Avenue.
"I understand that a lot of families need to get home after a weekend away, but please don't get on the roads unless you absolutely have to," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Amtrak suspended service between New York and Maine on Sunday, but was expected to resume most runs on Monday.
Trains will "run on the hour but not as many as would run on a normal weekday," Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole told Fox News. He said that full service might be restored by Tuesday if the snow stops.
The Greyhound bus line was also experiencing delays and cancellations, and bus routes from New York to Boston, Philadelphia and Washington were affected.
Philadelphia cab driver Farid Senoussaoui, 33, described the slippery driving conditions as "like a video game."
"You've got to be more careful," he said.
The hurricane-strength wind gusts in some areas knocked out power to thousands. Utilities are working to restore power to more than 22,000 customers in Connecticut.