Photos: Massive winter storm causes travel disruptions throughout eastern US

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
November 17, 2018, 1:07:41 PM EST

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A pre-winter storm slammed parts of the South and lower Midwest on Wednesday. The storm swept across the United States on Thursday into Friday causing travel disruptions, massive power outages, school closures and numerous injuries and fatalities.

It is the first snowstorm of the season to hit the New York City area. The storm brought several inches of snow to affected areas, slowing Thursday’s evening commute to a crawl and contributing to at least seven traffic deaths as it swept across the country.

The storm had a tremendous impact on the eastern U.S. for a number of reasons, according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams.

"First, it is the first storm of the year to affect such a large area," Abrams said. "Second, it is one of the earliest big November storms ever. The last time there was this much snow in New York City before the end of November was in 1938."

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A pedestrian walks through a snow-covered parking lot in Mt. Holly, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

(Twitter/ Jim Havard)

Snow in Washington, DC, on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 15.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A person walks across Independence Mall during a snow storm in Philadelphia, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

(Photo/Rommel Tan)

A biker crossing the Brooklyn Bridge in the snow.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A police officer and others help push a car that was unable to gain traction on the snowy roads in Mt. Holly, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Worker clears the first snow of the season in front of the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Snow covers the grass outside the White House, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Washington.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Footsteps are seen in the snow outside the West Wing of the White House, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Washington.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The first snow of the season falls on the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The first snow of the season in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

(Instagram/ Susan Taylor)

A dog enjoys snow on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Nov. 15.

(Twitter/ Rebecca Viser)

Snow covers streets in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Nov. 15.

(Twitter/ Claire Gilpin)

Snow in Alexandria, Va., on Thursday, Nov. 15.

(Meghan Mussoline)

A puppy in the snow in State College, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, Nov. 15.

(Instagram/ @polarbearpeekapoo)

Dogs in the snow in Columbia, Md., on Thursday, Nov. 15.

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A dog sits in front of the fire after playing in the snow in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Nov. 15.

(Twitter/ Shenandoah University)

Snow at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., on Thursday, Nov. 15.

(Instagram/ Jessica Lombardo)

Snowy day in St. Louis, Missouri, on Thursday, Nov. 15.

(Twitter/ Drake Widener)

A football team practices as snow falls in Des Arc, Ark., on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

(Twitter/ Drake Widener)

A football team practices as snow falls in Des Arc, Ark., on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A person walks in view of Independence Hall as snow falls in Philadelphia, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

People walk on Independence Mall during a snow storm in Philadelphia, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A person walks in view of Independence Hall during a snow storm in Philadelphia, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Commuters cross South Broad Street during a snow and sleet storm in Philadelphia, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

(David Evans)

Drivers, including David Evans and his wife, are stranded on the road in Yardley, Pennsylvania. They report that "driving conditions are horrible and they have seen several cars in ditches."

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A delivery man makes his way through wintry weather in Mt. Holly, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. New Jerseyans are dealing with their first taste of wintry weather this season.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A man pauses while shoveling a snowy walk in Mt. Holly, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. New Jerseyans are dealing with their first taste of wintry weather this season.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A dog named Razor checks out the snowfall from his perch inside the Sportsman's Barber Shop in Mt. Holly, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. New Jerseyans are dealing with their first taste of wintry weather this season.

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Workers inspect rail lines along Route 440 following a snowstorm, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Jersey City, N.J.

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

A woman waits with a child for a school bus the morning following a snowstorm, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Metuchen, N.J.

(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

A cyclist is framed by snow covered leaves of a tree in lower Manhattan on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in New York.

(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

A young girl brushes off snow on the Fearless Girl statue in lower Manhattan on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in New York.

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Visitors stand in a wet snowfall at the 9/11 Memorial, Thursday Nov. 15, 2018, in New York.

(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

A man is silhouetted by car headlights as he crosses the streets of lower Manhattan during a snow storm on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in New York.

(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Footprints are seen left behind in the snow covered grounds of lower Manhattan on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in New York.

View of the snow-covered Historic Ten Broeck Triangle in Albany, New York. Nov. 15, 2018. Photo by Kevin Eherts


It snowed longer than expected. Meteorologists expected to see rain and sleet hold down the snowfall amounts.

"If it was expected to snow at a rate of 2 inches per hour for one hour, but then say it lasted three more hours (rather than changing over), then that's a difference of a half foot of snow," Abrams said.

"That's what happened in a lot of places, and it caught people off guard," Abrams said. "The storm had been well predicted in other aspects. For example, in New York City, we called for a rough afternoon commute on Thursday two days in advance."

There was 6 inches in New York City, about 8 inches Allentown, Pennsylvania, and 6 inches in Providence, Rhode Island. The highest amount was just over 18 inches in Mount Hope, New York, in Orange County up north from New York City, according to Abrams.

Only five November storms in the last 136 years have produced 6 inches or more of snow in Central Park.

central park snowfall 111618


As the storm barreled up from the southeastern U.S. Thursday morning, residents in the southern portion of the tri-state areas started to experience the first effects of the storm.

Some school districts planned for early dismissals Thursday.

New Jersey State Police responded Thursday to 555 motor vehicle crashes and helped 1,027 motorists on Thursday.

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The storm moved northward across the eastern U.S, hitting the New York City area during commuting hours, resulting in mass travel delays and disruptions.

The wet snowfall and wind gusts downed numerous tree branches throughout New York City. Local police said people should stay indoors and avoid the roads.

Commuters were advised to avoid the Port Authority Bus Terminal due to overcrowding. By 5:30 p.m. local time, the terminal had become an immovable block of wall-to-wall commuters. Lines of people waited to get into the terminal as officials urged them to take trains or ferries, Associated Press (AP) News reports.


A multi-vehicle accident on the George Washington Bridge added to the traffic nightmare. There were scattered delays on the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit reported 30-minute delays system wide.

Flight delays of up to an hour were reported at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports. Flight-tracking site FlightAware.com reported that there were more than 8,000 flight delays and more than 1,900 cancellations on Thursday in the United States.

Highway speed limits around much of Pennsylvania were lowered to 45 mph because of car crashes, AP News report.

The snow turned to mostly sleet and rain after 7 p.m. EST Thursday and changed to rain overnight.

The roads across New York state remain treacherous this morning, according to the New York Department of Transportation. There is a full ban on all trucks on Interstate 84 from the Pennsylvania border to Connecticut.


Motorists were stuck in their cars overnight near Interstate 78 near Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Police had to wake up some drivers, who had been stuck in traffic for 12 hours since Thursday afternoon, to alert them that traffic conditions had begun to improve early Friday morning, according to WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.

More than 420,000 customers were without power Friday morning in 15 states from Kentucky northeast to Maine, according to poweroutage.us.


The storm rolled though the southeastern U.S. and parts of the Midwest on Wednesday. The winter storm stranded travelers for more than eight hours on an icy Arkansas interstate.

On Interstate 40 in eastern Arkansas, several crashes occurred, stopping traffic overnight. The interstate reopened shortly before daybreak Thursday, but officials say traffic was slow-going because some drivers had fallen asleep.

In Mississippi, a tour bus bound for a casino overturned, leaving two people dead and 44 others injured. And in the Little Rock area, three people were killed in separate crashes on icy roads Wednesday night, the AP News reports.

Hundreds of schools in the central U.S. closed Thursday morning, with as much as 8 inches blanketing the St. Louis area by the early afternoon.

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