Heavy snowfall surges into New England
By about 2 p.m. on Sunday, the long-anticipated snow had arrived.
A raw chill filled the air and thick light gray cloud blanket covered the sky as snowflakes began showering over streets, rooftops and covering tree limbs.
As of Sunday evening, a few local K-12 schools, among them the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, Burr and Burton Academy and Bennington Rutland Supervisory Union, declared snow days. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Massachusetts, made one of the earliest calls, on Saturday afternoon, to cancel Monday's day and evening classes.
A winter storm warning from the National Weather Service remains in effect until 7 a.m. on Tuesday, with an advisory that "travel could be very difficult to impossible" as the weather's effects intensify.
By 3:30 p.m. Sunday, the Vermont Department of Transportation had issued an order requiring all trucks to use tire chains on Route 9 between Woodford and Searsburg.
Albany International Airport was open and operating Sunday evening, with a total of two departing flights cancelled because of weather as of 5 p.m.
A total of nine arriving flights were been canceled. This was expected to have a domino effect on flights leaving on Monday morning, as fewer aircraft would be available.
Five inches of snow had fallen at the airport as of 5 p.m., according to public affairs director Doug Myers. The snow was falling at the rate of two inches an hour Sunday evening, he said.
Myers advised travelers are advised to monitor their planned flights by checking airline web sites or the Albany International Airport web site at flyalbany.com.
"We're talking probably a good 36 to potentially 42-hour storm, something like that," Joe Villani, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, said on Friday.
Weather service information identifies potentially "very difficult to impossible" travel conditions during the storm, impacting the morning or evening commutes Sunday and Monday.
"Once you get to like late Sunday morning onward, that's when things are going to considerably deteriorate in terms of travel conditions," with snow-covered roads and poor visibility, Villani said.
Villani advised those who must travel during the storm to be prepared — make sure car defrosters work, and have plenty of windshield washer fluid.
A storm like this is "definitely within the realm of normal," for the area this time of year, Villani said.
"Really, it's December to March is the most likely time frame for those," he said. "So we're kind of right on schedule here."
The same storm has been pummeling the U.S. for days as it moves cross country, dumping heavy snow from parts of California to the northern Midwest and inundating other areas with rain.
It has been blamed for several deaths.
The bodies of a boy and a girl, both 5, were found in central Arizona after their vehicle was swept away Friday while crossing a swollen creek.
Two adults and four other children were rescued by helicopter, but a 6-year-old girl is still missing. Rescuers are combing the area of Tonto Basin, about 50 miles northeast of Phoenix, with helicopters, drones, boats and dogs.
"We want to bring her home safely to her family," said Lt. Virgil Dodd of the Gila County Sheriff's Office. "She needs to come home today, and we're going to do that."
Two boys, ages 5 and 8, died Saturday near Patton, Missouri, when the vehicle they were riding in was swept off flooded roads.
A 48-year-old man died in a separate incident near Sedgewickville, Missouri, and a storm-related death was also reported in South Dakota.
Major highways reopened Sunday in Wyoming and Colorado, a day after blizzard conditions clogged roads with snow drifts.
Road crews were able to reopen all of Interstate 25 and most of I-80 in Wyoming early Sunday after strong winds abated. Major interstates in Colorado were also reopened.
Still, authorities warned travelers to remain alert for slick conditions and blowing snow.
The city of Duluth, Minnesota, was blanketed with 21.7 inches of snow as of 12 p.m. Sunday. City officials said streets were impassible and residents should stay inside.
Farther south, precipitation was in the form of rain and thunderstorms.
As the storm shifts east, flight delays and cancellations are continuing to pile up — disrupting travelers heading home after Thanksgiving.
As of 12:30 p.m, more than 500 Sunday flights were cancelled in the U.S., compared with about 400 on Saturday, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.
Newark, New Jersey, has had 33 flight cancellations and some inbound planes are being delayed by an average of more than 2 1/2 hours because of the weather.
There were also dozens of flight delays in Chicago and Minneapolis.
In Denver, 100 flights were canceled Saturday because of high winds.
In the mountain communities northeast of Los Angeles, nearly 9,000 utility customers were without power because of the storm.
Forecasters said a new storm is expected to bring several feet of mountain snow, rain and gusty winds to California through the weekend. Another system is forecast to develop in the mid-Atlantic Sunday, moving into a nor'easter by Monday.
As Sunday's storm approached, hardy New Englanders made sure to prepared, even if they weren't really that worried.
Some communities, including Waterbury, Connecticut, have instituted parking bans.
Much of interior Massachusetts could get up to a foot of snow. Boston is projected to get between 3 and 6 inches of snow, but Mayor Marty Walsh says schools will be open on Monday.
Newman, who braved the forecast to take his son to a college basketball game in Hartford, said it took him about five hours to get new tires Saturday because it seemed everyone else was doing the same thing.
"I think there's some extra hype on this one because it's the first one of the year," said Justin Bette, of Southbury, Connecticut. "We've been around for quite a while, we think we'll be OK."
Material from The Associated Press was used in this story.
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