NEW YORK • Winter Storm Stella unleashed its fury on much of the north-eastern United States yesterday, dropping snow and sleet, and forcing school closures and thousands of flight cancellations.
Stella was forecast to dump up to 60cm of snow in New York and whip the area with winds of up to 95kmh, causing treacherous whiteout conditions.
The weather forced the postponement of the first meeting between US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington from yesterday to Friday. Dr Merkel said she was on her way to the airport in Berlin on Monday when Mr Trump rang her to postpone the trip. She was due to meet him for over two hours yesterday, followed by a working lunch.
The National Weather Service issued a 24-hour blizzard warning from midnight on Monday for a region stretching north into Connecticut and south into New Jersey that includes New York City.
However, the storm affects a densely populated area from Maine to Virginia, and as far west as Ohio.
More than 6,800 US flights were cancelled on Monday and yesterday, with airports in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia the hardest hit, according to tracking service FlightAware.
A Singapore Airlines (SIA) spokesman told The Straits Times that due to a heavy snowstorm in New York, Flight SQ026 yesterday from Frankfurt to New York was cancelled.
The spokesman said that no other SIA flights to the US have been affected, but passengers travelling to and from New York should check the status of their flights.
In New York, the United Nations headquarters announced that it would close, a disruption for the thousands of delegates expected to attend a women's conference.
Much of Wall Street was expected to work from home, with low trade volume anticipated, due partly to the Federal Reserve's decision today on whether to raise interest rates.
Mr Trump, facing the first major weather event of his presidency, said he had spoken to the Department of Homeland Security and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was ready to provide assistance.
"Let's hope it is not going to be as bad as some people are predicting. Usually it isn't," he said.
But New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is not taking any chances, declaring a state of emergency in the city, home to 8.4 million people.
Above-ground commuter rail services and bus services in and around New York were ordered to suspend services. Schools were also told to close yesterday in New York, as well as in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
Storm Stella threatens snow chaos. http://str.sg/4hV8v