First Blizzard of the Year Clogs Northeast Interstates, Closes JFK

By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
January 5, 2014; 4:15 AM ET
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Snow removal crews were still active in New York City Friday morning as travel resumed. (Photo/Erin Cassidy)

The new year wasted no time delivering a powerful blizzard to the Northeast, one intent on creating dangerous travel conditions, closing schools and leaving more than a foot of snow on the ground in some major cities.

Beginning in the Midwest on Thursday morning, the storm brought fresh snow to Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

The white stuff quickly tied up travel for thousands, as more than 5 inches fell at Indianapolis International Airport and nearly a foot of snow accumulated near O'Hare and Midway Airports in Chicago.

Late in the day, each were reporting excessive delays.

For those on the ground, the powder snarled interstates and clogged roadways regionally.

"Temperatures were much lower with this storm than any other storm we've seen so far this season, allowing just about all of the snow to stick to the roads," Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

As of 8:00 a.m. EST Thursday, the Illinois Department of Transportation was already reporting Interstates 100 percent snow- and ice-covered in Collinsville, Effingham and Champaign and at least 75 percent covered in Lincoln, Quincy and Springfield.

By the afternoon hours, snow was spreading chaos farther eastward, moving into Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

RELATED:
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The mayor of Boston declared a snow emergency by noon and proactively closed all Boston public schools Friday.

In New York, travel conditions quickly worsened on I-80, I-79 and the Southern Tier Expressway of New York.

Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the closure of the Long Island Expressway, 87-S and I-84 by midnight. The busy routes did not reopen until after 8:00 a.m. EST Friday.

The hardest hit area spanned eastern New England from Portland, Maine, down to Cape Cod.

In Boston, air temperatures plummeted into the low single digits with heavy snow falling and winds gusts as high as 40 mph. Windchill in the city dropped between 25 and 35 degrees below zero.

"Because it was so cold the snow was very light, so there was tremendous amount of blowing and drifting which caused whiteout conditions," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist John Dlugoenski said.

Most of the blizzard conditions occurred mainly across New England.

The storm strengthened rapidly east of New York after it moved out into the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

"The precipitation was heavier in this area as the storm had more moisture to work with," Dlugoenski said.

Between Thursday and Friday, thousands of flights were cancelled in the Northeast, and public transportation nearly came to a halt across New York City and Boston.

Snow was winding down for most cities as of noontime Friday, as the coldest air in the past five years began to surge into the Northeast.


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Jillian MacMath at macmathj@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Jillian or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

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