Storm And Stress Visit The East Coast
An arctic air mass is blanketing the eastern half of the nation today, bringing with it high winds and heavy snow accumulations in some areas. Thousands of flights have been cancelled, schools are closed and federal government offices are closed. Those who don't have to drive or be somewhere also have an opinion on the weather.
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A fast-moving winter storm is barreling across the mid-Atlantic and up the East Coast today. Some places are expecting up to a foot of snow. The blizzard conditions from Virginia to Massachusetts will be followed by bitterly cold temperatures. NPR's Allison Keyes reports.
ALLISON KEYES, BYLINE: At a Giant store in northeast Washington, D.C., people were lining up to stock up as gobs of powdery snow fell in this notoriously precipitation-phobic city.
KEVIN RUSH: Trying to beat the last-minute rush.
KEYES: Kevin Rush is a District of Columbia native and he knows the drill. Worried people filled the aisles with baskets full of gallons of milk and toilet paper and scrambled over cans of soup and loaves of bread.
RUSH: People panicking right now, and I just wanted to get some things to hold me over.
DAVID PRESTWOOD: People still seem to stock up on groceries like it's the apocalypse.
KEYES: David Prestwood lives in D.C., but he's from Minneapolis and thinks the concern over snow in this area is overkill.
PRESTWOOD: We've had so many cancellations of school and closures of the government for slush days. I'm hoping that we have some real snow on the ground.
KEYES: The federal government is shut down in Washington today, as are many local governments and schools in the area. Schools in several states, including Connecticut and New Jersey, are sending students home early. Chris Vaccaro at the National Weather Service says this storm is affecting a densely populated area.
CHRIS VACCARO: We're looking at a swath of heavy snow from West Virginia and Virginia, basically from the Central Appalachians through the mid-Atlantic, and then up into southern New England.
KEYES: Vaccaro says the snowfall will continue to intensify as the evening wears on, with widespread snowfalls of at least six inches and much more in some areas. He says it's not going to be much better tomorrow, even though it's expected to stop snowing, thanks to high winds and low temperatures.
VACCARO: Very cold air is moving in its wake.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: This is going to be a particularly frigid night.
KEYES: In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is asking people to take care of their neighbors and themselves by staying inside as much as possible.
BLASIO: Just be careful about any prolonged exposure in this kind of weather.
KEYES: Thousands of flights have been cancelled from the mid-Atlantic to New England. Power companies such as Atlantic City Electric are bracing for outages caused by heavy snow on trees, which may then knock down power lines. Officials from Delaware and Maryland to Virginia are urging people not to drive if possible. But people like Victor Acevedo have no choice.
VICTOR ACEVEDO: It's been kind of tough. Just got to be patient.
KEYES: Acevedo is a trucker who drove from Wisconsin to the Flying J Truck Stop, just east of Gary, Indiana. Traffic on westbound Interstate 80/94 into Illinois was stalled thanks to thick lake-effect snow falling. He says his route today could have been worse.
ACEVEDO: We drive all over, so you go into Michigan, the state of Michigan, it's always bad up there, you know?
KEYES: Back in Washington, D.C., Steven Nyman was shopping at Giant and taking advantage of being the boss of his small business, despite all the closures in the area.
STEVEN NYMAN: I'm the owner so I made everybody come into work.
KEYES: But he says he's planning to be part of a really good snowball fight a little later.
NYMAN: Down on H Street with my 2-year-old son and me.
KEYES: Isn't he a little young for a snow battle?
NYMAN: I think we'll just be tossing snow up in the air though.
KEYES: And look on the bright side, only two more months of winter. Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.
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