By JENNIFER PELTZ
NEW YORK (AP) -- Northeasterners scraped and shoveled Wednesday after
a snowstorm grounded flights, shuttered schools and buried roads with a
surprising amount of snow, leaving biting cold in its wake. The
atmosphere was particularly frosty in New York, where some residents
complained that plowing was spotty and schools were open while children
elsewhere in the region stayed home.
The storm stretched from Kentucky to New England but hit hardest
along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between Philadelphia
and Boston. As much as 14 inches of snow fell in Philadelphia, with New
York City seeing almost as much, before tapering off. Temperatures were
in the single digits in many places Wednesday and not expected to rise
out of the teens.
Facing one of the first flashpoints of his weeks-old tenure, New York
City Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the response to a storm he said
caused a worse-than-expected headache when it ramped up at rush hour.
"We had a coordinated, intense, citywide response," de Blasio said.
The mayor and city Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said the
cleanup effort was equitable and robust, though complicated by traffic
and the storm's timetable. Those factors made it difficult to plow and
spread salt, Doherty said. At one point, the wind and snow were so
blinding that police pulled traffic agents out of many intersections.
De Blasio, a Brooklynite who campaigned on closing gaps between rich
and poor New Yorkers, also was asked why some Manhattan avenues,
including in the wealthy Upper East Side neighborhood, still were
covered in snow when a Brooklyn thoroughfare was plowed clear to the
pavement. The plowing problems combined with a late-night decision to
keep open the nation's largest public schools system had some parents
"No one was treated differently," the mayor said.
One parent, Pamela Murphy Jennings, said her two children navigated
snowy sections of tony Madison and Park avenues to get to their public
schools on the Upper East Side.
"Children have to walk to city bus stops and cross these streets to
get here," she said. "Cars are sliding on roads. If there was any day to
close schools, this was the day."
De Blasio said officials made the right call in anticipating that
streets would be passable enough for students to get to school safely,
adding that his own teenage son had gone, if grouchily.
Citywide, 100 percent of primary streets were plowed by 6 a.m.
Wednesday, along with 90 percent or more of other streets, Doherty said.
Some residents were understanding. Upper East Sider Lou Riccio agreed
cleanup was a problem in his neighborhood, but he didn't see it as the
"It was just the problem of a bad snowstorm coming at a bad time of
the day," said Riccio, who teaches public affairs at Columbia
Schoolchildren had the day off elsewhere, including in Boston,
Philadelphia and many parts of Rhode Island, Connecticut, upstate New
York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, northern Virginia and the District
of Columbia. Federal workers in Washington got a two-hour delay in
their work days Wednesday after a day off Tuesday because of the snow.
In downtown Jersey City, N.J., Kerline Celestin, 23, a certified
nurse's aide, waited for a bus Wednesday to head home to another part of
town after she was stuck at work overnight due to the storm. The
temperature was in the single digits, with the wind chill below zero.
"To tell you the truth, I feel like I didn't want to be outside," she said.
Maintenance worker William Haskins knocked on doors in downtown
Annapolis, Md., to see if anyone needed sidewalks cleaned. His
10-year-old son, Travis, out of school for a snow day, came along with
his own shovel and an understanding that profits would be split evenly.
"He was up waiting for me this morning," his father said.
While Boston got only about 4 inches of snow, other parts of Massachusetts were socked with as many as 18 inches.
On Cape Cod, a blizzard warning in effect through Wednesday afternoon
kept business brisk at Aubuchon Hardware in Sandwich, where salt and
snow shovels were popular.
"The flow of customers is pretty steady, but everyone waits until the
worst of the storm to start worrying," manager Jeff Butland said.
About 1,400 flights were canceled Wednesday into and out of some of
the nation's busiest airports, including in Washington, Baltimore,
Philadelphia, New York and Boston, according to according to
Flightaware. That was down from about 3,000 flights the day before.
The storm was a conventional one that developed off the coast and
moved up the Eastern Seaboard, pulling in cold air from the Arctic.
Unlike the epic freeze of two weeks ago, it was not caused by a kink in
the polar vortex, the winds that circulate around the North Pole.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Karen
Matthews and Verena Dobnik and AP Video Journalist Ted Shaffrey in New
York; Nick Tabor in Annapolis, Md.; Samantha Henry in Jersey City, N.J.;
Ron Todt in Philadelphia; and Denise Lavoie in Weymouth, Mass.