Snowstorm Stella spares New York City and Washington

People clearing snow in Weehawken, New Jersey on Tuesday after a snowstorm.
People clearing snow in Weehawken, New Jersey on Tuesday after a snowstorm.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Snowstorm Stella lashed the north-eastern United States with sleet and snow, cancelling thousands of flights and closing schools and shutting stores, but New York City and Washington escaped the worst of the weather.

Blizzard warnings were issued in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and upstate New York - with some areas near the New York state capital of Albany forecast to get up to 76cm of snow on Tuesday night.

But warnings were lifted for New York City, the US financial capital that is home to 8.4 million residents, where snow turned to sleet and hail.

Dire forecasts forced the postponement of the first meeting between US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington until tomorrow, but in the end, snowfall in the US capital was light.

The National Weather Service drastically revised down New York City's expected accumulation, with 18.2cm recorded in Central Park, and 25.4cm to 33cm in parts of neighbouring New Jersey and Connecticut. Instead, the trajectory of the storm shifted west and north, bringing heavy snow and strong winds to central parts of New York state and further north.

"The storm is not delivering as much snow as forecast at all and that is very good for the people of New York City, but the conditions are still very dangerous," Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters.

Temperatures were set to dip below freezing overnight, making roads and sidewalks treacherous, and a city-wide state of emergency was to remain in place until midnight on Tuesday.

While the New York subway and bus services were operating, much of the city remained quiet, with schools, shops and businesses largely closed as workers shovelled snow.

New York's John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports and Newark Liberty International Airport were largely shut, with the majority of flights cancelled, and trains heading north towards Boston were also suspended. More than 8,700 flights were cancelled from Monday till yesterday, with airports in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia hit hardest, according to the tracking service FlightAware.

The United Nations headquarters closed for the day, as did the courts and a string of popular museums, some of the most-visited tourist attractions in the city. Officials announced that schools and rail services were to re-open yesterday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'Snowstorm Stella spares New York City and Washington'. Print Edition | Subscribe