BOSTON — A winter storm that had already blanketed parts of the South in snow moved into the Northeast on Friday, snarling air travel, crushing morning commutes and delivering a dilemma to school districts that had been trying to keep children in classes during a surge in coronavirus cases.
The National Weather Service in Burlington put most of Vermont under a “hazardous weather outlook” designation for Friday, calling for “light snowfall to the North Country with snow totals ranging from a dusting to an inch across northern New York while up to 2 inches across Southern Vermont. Snow was expected to linger along the Green Mountains on Friday night, resulting in total snow accumulations of up to 4 inches for locations above 1,500 feet.
The Weather Service also warned of light precipitation on Sunday around the state, with a mix of snow and sleet possible. A few locations might switch over to rain or a rain/snow mix before changing back to snow on Sunday. Total snow accumulations will be a dusting up to 2 inches, and little-to-no ice accumulation expected.
Vermont’s forecast wasn’t much better for Monday night through Wednesday morning, with dangerous wind chills expected and wind chill temperatures dropping to between minus 15 and minus 30 degrees. The Weather Service advised that frostbite can develop on exposed skin under these conditions within 30 minutes.
Elsewhere in the Northeast, schools in Boston closed, and Providence, R.I., public schools switched to distance learning, but New York City kept the nation’s largest public school system open.
“Children need to be in school. We don’t have any more days to waste” after the many closures and remote-learning days of the pandemic, said Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat dealing with his first major storm after taking office Saturday. He also noted that many children rely on in-school meals, and that some working parents can’t stay home.
By midday on the East Coast, airlines had scrubbed more than 2,400 flights, with the largest numbers at airports in Boston and the New York City area, according to tracking service FlightAware.
Airlines have struggled with staffing shortages caused by an increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious omicron variant. In the U.S., cancellations had eased a bit this week after peaking at more than 3,200 on Monday.
By Friday morning, some spots in New England, including Danielson, Conn., Norwood, Mass., and Burrillville, R.I., had received more than a foot by late morning, according to the Weather Service.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged people to stay off the roads and take public transportation if possible, but there were reports of crashes around the region.
A tractor-trailer jackknifed in Greenwich, Conn., and forced a temporary closure of southbound Interstate 95, state police said. There were no indications of mass strandings on the major north-south thoroughfare, as happened after snow in Virginia earlier this week left hundreds of motorists marooned for hours.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday night declared a state of emergency and delayed opening state offices for nonessential employees until 11 a.m.
From late Thursday through Friday afternoon, 4 to 7 inches of snow were expected in parts of central and southern New Hampshire, and south-central and southwest Maine, according to the weather service.
The storm brought record-setting snow to some areas of the South on Thursday.
Nashville saw 6.3 inches Thursday, shattering the city’s previous Jan. 6 record of 4 inches, which had stood since 1977, the Weather Service said. Freezing rain and sleet coated areas around the Tennessee-Alabama state border, said Scott Unger, a meteorologist for the service in Nashville.