Northeast Slammed Again By Strong Winter Storm

fromWSHU

A strong winter storm is pummeling the Northeast with snow, stiff winds and punishing cold. U.S. airlines have canceled more than 2,300 flights nationwide.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

On a Friday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. And a very cold Friday in the northeast - a winter storm still hammering there this morning. In parts of Massachusetts, over 20 inches of snow have already fallen. In upstate New York there's lots of snow and temperatures are hovering around zero.

The blizzard is bringing strong gusts of wind to Long Island, New York which is where we've reached Charles Lane from member station WSHU. He's outside Suffolk County Emergency Operation Center. And welcome.

CHARLES LANE, BYLINE: Oh, thank you.

MONTAGNE: So how cold is it where you're standing?

LANE: The last time I checked it was about 16 degrees but it feels a lot, lot colder than that. It's white and it's like a bone-shaking cold is what it's like. You can't really see much right now. My window is all iced up and when I roll down the window, you know, the snow is blowing horizontally across the sky. And then it whips up the snow on the ground; it pushes it into these eight inch drifts.

Overall, there's about - well, there's at least five inches of snow here on Long Island. The story here is about the wind and the cold. Just a bit ago I went out and took a little walk and, you know, one, I just couldn't get warm with my jacket and hat and gloves and everything, but I was only out there for, like, 10 minutes and by the time I came back the wind had just completely erased my footsteps.

And, as you mentioned, also in the region different parts are feeling different effects of the storm. Upstate New York is getting the worst of the cold and the temperature is below 22 degrees with the wind chill. Massachusetts is getting most of the snow, Boston with at least 10 inches, and just north of there there's more than two feet of snow. And we have blizzard-like conditions here on Long Island and then also on the Massachusetts Cape.

MONTAGNE: Well, it sounds pretty bad and schools in New York and Boston are closed. Some 2,300 flights have been canceled and the governor of New York - that's Andrew Cuomo - decided to close several highways yesterday. You know, just briefly, what's the concern exactly? It's some kind of ice whiteout?

LANE: Yeah. So there's several highways that have been closed here on Long Island - the Long Island Expressway, also Interstate 84 and the New York state throughway that goes up to Albany. Officials had hoped to open them by 5:00 a.m. but has extended to 8:00 a.m. because, you know, of the wind. And also because temperatures dropped a lot faster than they had anticipated. So they had to switch from salt to sand sooner than expected.

MONTAGNE: And the power situation - is there power on? I mean are people able to stay warm? Are the lights on?

LANE: Yeah. So that's really what local officials are really, really concerned about because after Superstorm Sandy - we just got a brand new power grid because after Superstorm Sandy the former utility company was vilified and labeled a failure. So lawmakers voted in to bring KSEG from New Jersey to take over the electric this year. And no one - and they just started on Wednesday and, you know, just from the get-go they get a storm.

Anyway, the lines are still on. There's not a lot of outages right now. And officials are still sort of taking a wait and see approach because this isn't really the storm to test them. Because it's so cold the snow is very light. It's fluffy and it's not the type to break the power lines.

MONTAGNE: We just have a few seconds here. Just tell us - are people staying home?

LANE: Well, that's what officials are hoping but there's also sort of this recognition that many people do have to go out. The subways in New York are running. Here on Long Island the trains are running on a limited schedule. And officials say the buses are going to start up soon. So, you know, roads are passable; everything is just very, very slow.

MONTAGNE: All right. Well, thanks very much. And I'm glad to hear you're in your car sheltering from the storm. That's Charles Lane from member station WSHU.

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