US weather: Heavy snow disrupts vaccine rollout, flights and schools

COVID vaccine appointments have been cancelled, flights have been suspended and schools and roads are closed across the northeastern US after widespread heavy snowfall.

Snow that could eventually total more than 2ft (62cm) is forecast for a wide area from Pennsylvania to New England during Tuesday, NBC said, quoting the US National Weather Service.

Flurries could fall at as much as 3in (7.6cm) an hour in some places, driven by winds of up to 60mph (96kph).

The service said 1ft (31cm) or more could be on the ground in New England by the time the snow finally dies out in the northernmost states by Wednesday evening.

New York was especially badly hit, with more than 16in (40cm) piling up in Central Park, and as much as 30in (76cm) reported in northern New Jersey.

If conditions continue, it will be the first time since 2016 that New York City was covered by more than 2ft of snow.

All the city’s public schools were closed on Tuesday and more than 90% of flights in the area were cancelled.

A COVID vaccine rollout in Boston, planned for people aged 75 and over was cancelled amid forecasts of 12in to 18in (31cm to 61cm) of heavy, wet snow and winds of up to 55mph (88kph) along the coast, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker said.

Around 10,000 vaccine jabs were postponed in Connecticut after the storm affected supplies, with more expected on Tuesday.

A state of emergency in New Jersey, declared on Monday evening, was still in place on Tuesday, where the highest fall on the east coast, 32in (81cm), fell in the town of Newton.

A vast number of flights have been suspended at major airports, including all flights at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and John F Kennedy International Airport.

About 75% of flights at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey were cancelled.

The state’s six mega COVID-19 vaccine centres stayed shut as snow showers and blizzard conditions hampered efforts to clear roads.

The New Jersey State Police reported as of 7pm local time on Monday, troopers had responded to 661 crashes and come to the aid of 1,050 motorists since 6pm on Sunday.

There was also concern about coastal flooding due to the storm.

In a video posted on Facebook by Union Beach Police, officers were shown rescuing a man who was showing signs of hypothermia in his car from floodwaters.

In Virginia, four firefighters were taken to hospitals with injuries that were not life-threatening after their fire truck overturned on Sunday in snow-covered roads.

In Pennsylvania, authorities said a 67-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease, who reportedly wandered away from her home, was found dead after suffering with hypothermia in Allentown on Monday.

In nearby Plains Township, a man was suspected of gunning down his neighbours, a married couple, and then killing himself after an argument over snow removal, officials said.

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