US officials had to suspend the vaccination campaign in New York. The city declared a state of emergency when it was hit on Monday (1st) by a strong winter storm, which could be one of the largest in its history.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a storm warning for an area stretching from Virginia to Maine, home to tens of millions of people. Authorities are forecasting massive blizzards with winds of up to 80 km / h in New York City, New Jersey and parts of Philadelphia and Connecticut.
The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, declared Sunday (31) a state of emergency in the city of 8.6 million inhabitants, where about 50 cm of snow is expected. The town hall imposed the closure of schools on Monday and Tuesday and limited travel considered non-essential. This year, however, few people have been affected as many students are taking online courses and thousands of employees are working from home due to the pandemic.
The mayor also suspended the Covid-19 vaccination on Monday and banned restaurants from serving customers to tables outside.
“It is a dangerous situation, where there is a risk of death. Expect several closures (…) and if you are not essential workers, stay at home,” said the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, at a press conference.
The blizzard, which started Sunday evening (29), reached 33 cm in Central Park on Monday afternoon, and will continue to fall until Tuesday afternoon, reaching 50 cm, according to the weather service. “If we go over 50cm, it will be one of the 10 biggest snowstorms in New York,” Matthew Wunsch, NWS meteorologist in the city, told AFP.
A 20-inch snowfall would be the eighth-largest in New York history, according to data collected since 1869 in Central Park. The record dates back to January 2016, when it snowed nearly 70 cm.
Over 1,600 canceled flights
The three airports in New York City and its metro area have canceled between 65% and 90% of their flights, according to the Flight Aware website. More than 1,600 flights have been canceled across the country, mainly to Boston, New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has also declared a state of emergency, giving authorities the ability to close roads, evacuate homes and obtain necessary public safety equipment.
The storm, which left snowstorms up to 1.8 meters and heavy rains in the mountainous areas of California last week, moved to the Midwest, particularly affecting Chicago, which recorded about 20 cm of snow. In Washington DC, thousands of students were scheduled to resume in-person classes on Monday for the first time since March, but their return was postponed until Tuesday.
Congress restricts Biden’s activity and change agenda
Due to the snowstorm, US President Joe Biden postponed a scheduled visit to the State Department, and Congress limited its activities.
At the Smithsonian National Zoo, giant pandas took the opportunity to play in the snow and hit the slopes, while children and adults made snowmen and took photos next to landmarks at the National Mall.