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Snow blankets north-eastern US after storm

A man photographs the Korean War Veterans Memorial after a heavy snow storm in Washington. Credit: Reuters

A heavy snowstorm and dangerously cold conditions gripped the north-eastern United States leading to delaying flights, paralysing road travel and closing schools and government offices across the region.

Travellers leave the Back Bay train and subway station in Boston. Credit: Reuters

Massachusetts was hard-hit by the first major winter storm of 2014, getting nearly 14 inches of snow (35 cm), while some towns north of Boston saw close to two feet (60 cm).

An American Airlines crew member sprays de-icing solution on a plane. Credit: Reuters

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Roads closed and flights cancelled in US snow storm

A major blizzard that has hit the northeastern coast of the United States has caused travel chaos with over 1,000 flights delayed or cancelled and major roads closed.

New York City plough trucks clear the streets of Times Square. Credit: REUTERS/Darren Ornitz
Snow covers the platform of the 65th Street subway station in New York. Credit: REUTERS/Zoran Milich
Heavy machinery clears the snow at LaGuardia Airport during a winter storm in New York. Credit: REUTERS/Zoran Milich

North-east America hit by winter storms

The north-eastern United States is being battered by blizzard-like conditions, causing more than 1,000 flight delays and cancellations, paralysing road travel, and closing schools and government offices.

A woman makes a snow angel in the middle of Times Square in New York. Credit: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The first major winter storm of 2014 brought bone-chilling temperatures and high winds from the lower Mississippi Valley to the Atlantic coast, with nearly 2ft (60 cm) of snow falling in some areas of Massachusetts.

cicles on a window are seen in front of airplanes during a snow storm in Boston. Credit: REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

Much of the US north-east saw heavy snowfall and plummeting temperatures late on Thursday and early on Friday morning, said Jared Guyer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The weather service said the mass of Arctic air would drop temperatures to levels 20 to 30 degrees below normal, with record lows possible on Friday.

MP: Fines an option if passengers are left stranded

"People are reasonable" and will listen if told how long disruption will last, Mrs Ellman said. Credit: Daybreak/ITV

Local authorities and transport companies should face fines if they fail to provide adequate care for stranded passengers, the head of the Commons transport committee has said.

Louise Ellman told Daybreak adverse weather conditions "can be predicted" and it was "the responsibility" of the authorities to "make provision" during disruption.

"Passengers want to know what it is happening. People are reasonable and they do realise where there is bad weather, there will be disruption.

"But they do need to know what is happening and know when that disruption is likely to end."

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Councils 'as prepared as ever' for bad weather

Local councils were "as prepared as ever" to deal with bad weather with "1.4 million tonnes of salt stockpiled" to grit roads with, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.

Peter Box, the chairman of the Local Government Association's economy and transport board said councils were prepared for snow.

Councils will treat as many roads as possible and have also filled thousands of community grit bins and recruited volunteers to help people clear pavements, paths and side streets when needed.

It is pleasing that this report acknowledges the need to raise awareness that there is no law against people clearing pavements or public spaces.

– Peter Box of the Local Government Association

Transport sector 'must' work closely with Met Office

Road, train and plane operators must work more closely with the Met Office and other forecasters if travel disruption is to be avoided in winter months, a group of MPs has said.

In a wide-ranging report into winter travel, the transport committee said:

  • It is vital passengers receive up-to-date information of changes and disruption whenever possible.
  • More needs to be done to keep pavements clear of snow and ice.
  • Adverts broadcast across the whole of the UK should be used to educate people on how best to clear ice and snow from outside their homes.
  • The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) needs to get better at communicating with airport passengers and make sure travel information is shared at airports across the UK
  • The Highways Agency should make real-time travel information more accessible by reviewing barriers on this data and identify the best technology to do so.
  • The Office of Rail Regulation needs to put pressure on rail companies to develop clear policies on working out how long disruption will last.

Winter transport disruption 'not just caused by snow'

More must be done to manage Britain's transport system during the winter months as the disruption just before Christmas showed delayed trains and buses were "not just caused by snow", MPs said.

Passengers trying to get home for Christmas were faced with lengthy delays at Gatwick airport. Credit: Reuters

Floods and gales plagued travellers during the Christmas rush, not just snow and ice, the transport committee said.

Aviation regulators had to "get to the bottom of went wrong" at Gatwick airport when passengers were left stranded with little help, the committee's chairwoman Louise Ellman, said.

Launching the report today, Mrs Ellman said: "Disruption to transport is not just caused by snow. We saw recently the impact of severe storms and flooding on transport services.

"At Gatwick, thousands of passengers were stranded over the Christmas period due to a power failure during stormy weather. The CAA must get to the bottom of what went wrong and how airports across the country can avoid similar situations in the future."

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