Tens of thousands powerless in US as blizzard pelts east coast

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 09, 2013 05:50 hrs

New York, Feb 9 (IANS) Tens of thousands of homes in northeast America were without power in peak winter, thousands of flights were cancelled and people were asked to stay off roads as a monster blizzard carpeted cities from New York to Boston under several feet of snow and paralysed normal life.

After a day of pelting wet snow, five states - New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island - declared state of emergency, and Massachusetts, whose capital is Boston, banned vehicles from every road in the state, the New York Times reported.

The storm that began Friday morning in parts of New York state had by night fall delivered whipping winds and over a foot of snow in some parts, with prospects of even double that by the time it's done Saturday, according to CNN.

Tens of millions of people were in the blizzard's path, and many more saw their hopes of getting anywhere squashed as thousands of flight were cancelled at some 60 airports in the east coast and its interior and the government ordered that drivers stay off the road.

As dusk fell, conditions quickly deteriorated. Major highways were almost completely abandoned and downtown Boston, in blizzard conditions, was a ghost town lost in a swirl of howling winds and snow, it said.

In New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told people to stay home and warned them not to "panic buy" gasoline because the supply was plentiful, the Times said.

But the memory of Hurricane Sandy in October was still so raw that many across the region went on buying sprees anyway, emptying store shelves and filling extra containers of gasoline in addition to their car tanks, it said.

In Massachusetts, the snowstorm, which is expected to intensify throughout Friday night and last through Saturday afternoon, had left more than 175,000 homes and businesses in the dark by Friday night, according to Boston Herald.

Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick issued an executive order banning vehicle traffic - with the exception of public safety and emergency workers - Friday afternoon and said it will remain the law until he rescinds it.

Breaking the ban carries a penalty of up to one year in jail or a fine, an aide to the governor said. Patrick added the state expects to increase 1,000 National Guard members on duty to 5,000 over the course of the weekend to combat the storm.

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