Snow slams Northeast U.S. as vaccine distribution begins

The Northeast’s first whopper snowstorm of the season buried parts of upstate New York under more than 3 feet of snow, broke records in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and left snowplow drivers struggling to clear the roads.

“It was a very difficult, fast storm and it dropped an unbelievable amount of snow,” Tom Coppola, highway superintendent in charge of maintaining 100 miles of roads in the Albany suburb of Glenville, said Thursday morning. “It’s to the point where we’re having trouble pushing it with our plows.”

The storm dropped 30 inches on Glenville between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday, leaving a a silent scene of snow-clad trees, buried cars and heavily laden roofs when the sun peeked through at noon.

“If you do not have to be on the roads, please don’t travel,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He said there were more than 9,000 power outages, 600 accidents and two fatalities by midmorning Thursday.

Nearly 40 inches of snow fell in Binghamton, where the National Weather Service said the storm sets a new two-day snowfall record, eclipsing the previous record of 35.3 inches in March 2017.

In Ithaca, it took Fred Cullin, 23, more than an hour and a half to dig out of his steep, lakeside driveway that was packed with nearly 3 feet of snow piled up by plows. “It was pretty crazy,” Cullin said. “Shoveling uphill, on ice, was definitely interesting.”

Much of the Pennsylvania’s western and central regions saw accumulations in the double digits.

“Williamsport Regional Airport made history,” the National Weather Service in State College said, reporting 24.7 inches of snow and breaking the previous record of 24.1 inches set there in January 1964.

Boston had more than 9 inches of snow early Thursday morning, breaking the previous record for the date of 6.4 inches in 2013. In Boston’s Seaport neighborhood, the streets were mostly empty except for an army of workers snowblowing sidewalks in front of luxury apartment buildings, stores and office towers.

“It’s been a while since we have had this,” said Mark Pusung, a 33-year-old Seaport resident walking his Shar-Pei dog Muffin. “I wanted my dog to experience it because he could run around.”

Xicheng Cai, 28, a consultant who lives and works in Seaport, was decked out in what he called his full polar gear including boots, wind-proof pants and ski goggles. “Wonderful,” he said of the snow. “This is what Christmas should look like.”

A few blocks away, Sara Boxell, 33, who lives in South Boston, was in the middle of her 4-mile run. “I love it,” she said. “Luckily, I’m working from home so I don’t have to drive anywhere.”

Massachusetts’ transportation chief said it may take longer than usual to clear snow-clogged highways and streets because the coronavirus pandemic has knocked one in 10 plow drivers out of action.

Hazardous road conditions caused dozens of crashes in New Hampshire, Connecticut and eastern New York. New York State police said a snowmobiler was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer on I-787 in downtown Albany at 2:30 a.m.

In Maine, snowboarder Fletcher Moffett grabbed a few runs at the Sunday River ski resort before reporting to work as a bartender. “Being outside is keeping me sane” during the pandemic, he said.

The overnight snowfall eclipsed the entire amount recorded for all of last winter in New York City, where 6.5 inches of snow covered Central Park — much less than the initial predictions of up to 12 inches. Snowplows were careful to avoid damaging outdoor dining spaces erected for the pandemic at Manhattan restaurants, where dining was to resume Thursday night.

In a light-hearted moment at a daily briefing by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the official in charge of snow removal, Edward Grayson, cautioned, “It’s not a night to wear your good shoes.”

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