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Quick-Moving Winter Storm Brings Snow to Northeast, Disrupting Travel, Schools

Written by on February 13, 2024

A quick-moving winter storm battered cities in the Northeast with snowfall, sending huge waves crashing into the New England coastline and prompting New York City schools to switch to glitch-filled remote learning reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic.

Airlines canceled or delayed flights while accidents were reported on slippery roads, and at least one person died.

The storm quickly passed through the region, producing snowfall totals that were significant in some cities but much less than expected in others. New York City recorded just 7.62 centimeters of snow in Central Park, but areas of Pennsylvania and Connecticut were blanketed with 38.10 centimeters of fluffy snow, according to National Weather Service reports.

“It’s been a quiet winter, so it’s kind of welcoming,” Ricky Smith said as he made his way to a construction job in New York City. “I just hope nobody gets hurt.”

In New York City, the nation’s largest school district opted to shift to remote learning instead of giving students and staff a snow day, sparking criticism by many. And when classes began, technical problems prevented many of the 915,000 students from logging in, exacerbating the discontent.

New York Mayor Eric Adams defended the decision to go remote in the schools, saying it was necessary because of learning losses during the coronavirus pandemic.

School officials blamed the troubles on IBM, with Schools Chancellor David Banks saying the company “was not ready for primetime.”

People use their snow sled in New York's Central Park, Feb. 13, 2024.
People use their snow sled in New York’s Central Park, Feb. 13, 2024.

IBM said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that it worked with the schools and the issues “were largely resolved,” but the company did not immediately respond to questions about what specifically happened and why.

More than 1,000 flights were canceled Tuesday morning, mostly at the airports in the New York City area and in Boston. Accidents were reported across the region.

There were more than 145,000 power outages reported Tuesday morning in Pennsylvania and several thousand in New Jersey, but few outages in New York and New England, according to the tracking site poweroutage.us.

Authorities in Newberry Township, Pennsylvania, said a man operating a snowmobile was killed when he hit a downed utility line around 8 a.m. Tuesday during the storm. The cause and manner of death were pending further investigation.

At the time of the crash, police said in a statement that the area was “experiencing a multitude of weather-related conditions due to a winter storm which caused downed trees, downed power lines and hazardous travel conditions throughout the area.”

Robert Bylone, 51, a university research operations manager from Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, was at home around 6 a.m. Tuesday when he heard a “splintering crack” outside his window. A 30-year-old pear tree in his front yard had come down.

“We anticipated a snowstorm, and sure enough, we got it,” he said. “But it was quick, very wet with a lot of moisture in the snow. So with that much water in the snow, it was very heavy. Very heavy to pick up, very heavy on the tree branches.”

Throughout the region, officials urged people to take precautions including staying off the roads.

In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont ordered all executive branch office buildings closed to the public for the day, and all state courts were closed.

Nelson Taylor, of Providence, R.I., left, uses cross-country skis while making his way along a residential street, Feb. 13, 2024, in Providence.
Nelson Taylor, of Providence, R.I., left, uses cross-country skis while making his way along a residential street, Feb. 13, 2024, in Providence.

Susan Smith was spending the day with her three children, ages 14, 11 and 8, at her home in Columbia, Connecticut, because schools were closed. She said she likes traditional snow days off but would also like to see remote learning on some bad weather days.

“But I still remember being a kid and really looking forward to snow days, so I don’t want to completely wipe that off the map with remote learning,” Smith said.

Ahead of the storm, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey told all non-essential executive branch employees to not report to work Tuesday. Boston schools were closed, and a parking ban was in effect until 4 p.m.

Similar closures and bans were put in place in other cities and towns.
Along the Plymouth, Massachusetts, waterfront, residents sat in their vehicles marveling at the waves crashing ashore as a mix of rain and snow lashed their vehicles. Some spots began to flood as high tide approached early Tuesday afternoon.

“I enjoy the weather a lot today,” said Marissa O’Keefe, who was with a friend in an SUV along the waterfront. “I’m kind of happy our boss gave us the day off so we can enjoy the way the waves are moving. Whether the snow comes or it just rains, I’m excited by nature’s power.”


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