WINTER STORM STELLA has lashed the northeastern United States with sleet and snow – cancelling thousands of flights, closing schools and shutting stores.
New York and Washington escaped the worst of the weather, however.
Blizzard warnings were issued in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and upstate New York – with some areas near the New York state capital of Albany forecast to get up to 30 inches (76 centimetres) of snow overnight last night.
But warnings were lifted for New York City, where snow turned to sleet and hail.
Dire forecasts forced the postponement of the first meeting between US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington until Friday, but in the end, snowfall in the US capital was light.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is scheduled to be in Washington today to meet with business leaders, ahead of his meeting with President Trump tomorrow.
The National Weather Service (NWS) drastically revised down New York City’s expected accumulation with 7.2 inches recorded in Central Park, and 10-13 inches in parts of neighbouring New Jersey and Connecticut.
Instead the trajectory of the storm shifted west and north, bringing heavy snow and strong winds to central parts of New York state and further north.
“The storm is not delivering as much snow as forecasted at all and that is very good for the people of New York City, but the conditions are still very dangerous,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters.
While the New York subway and bus services were operating, much of the city remained quiet with schools, shops and businesses largely closed as workers shovelled snow.
New York’s John F Kennedy and LaGuardia airports and Newark Liberty International Airport were largely shut, with the majority of flights cancelled, and trains heading north towards Boston were also suspended.
Autumn Young, 35, the owner of a soap company, said she had been stranded at Grand Central Station since 6am after her flight to see family in North Carolina and her train home were cancelled.
“I can’t even get out of the city. I’ve missed a whole day of work and meetings,” Young told AFP.
It sucks, it’s awful. I am traveling with my service dog — he can’t go on the sidewalk because the salt is bad for his feet.
The United Nations headquarters closed for the day, as did the courts and a string of popular museums, some of the most-visited tourist attractions in the city.
Officials announced that schools and rail services would re-open today.
More than 8,700 flights were canceled between Monday and Wednesday, with airports in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia hit hardest, according to the tracking service FlightAware.
US-bound flights from Dublin are scheduled to depart as normal today, according to the latest information this morning – but as always, the best advice is to contact your airline.
US-bound flights from Shannon have the note ‘Contact Airline’ in their ‘Status’ listing this morning.
“Mother Nature is an unpredictable lady sometimes,” said New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo after meteorologists conceded it was no longer going to be the worst East Coast storm in an unusually mild winter.
“It has been less snowfall than we predicted, less disruption,” Cuomo said.
Neither was there major damage in New Jersey.
“The storm has under-performed,” said the state’s Republican Governor Chris Christie.
According to his pre-released schedule, the Taoiseach is to meet senior business contacts at the US Chamber of Commerce and attend a business leaders’ lunch today to promote trade.
According to a statement:
He will celebrate Irish research excellence and industry-academic links at the presentation of the SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science medal. He will also promote the new Creative Ireland Programme and launch its website as well as addressing the American Ireland Fund.
Tomorrow, his programme will include a bilateral meeting with President Trump and events hosted by Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Paul Ryan.
From the Government statement:
The Taoiseach will use each of these opportunities to emphasise the strength of Irish-US relations, and our Brexit priorities and to continue to advocate for immigration reform to assist the many thousands of undocumented Irish in the US. The Taoiseach will also highlight Ireland’s commitment to EU membership, emphasising the importance of the EU’s core values of human dignity, freedom, democracy and equality.
On Friday he’ll travel to New York for the city’s St Patrick’s Day Parade.
A number of other ministers are also on duty at other US cities this week as the annual Paddy’s week diplomatic and trade effort continues.
- Reporting by AFP. Additional reporting Daragh Brophy.
TheJournal.ie’s political reporter Christina Finn will be bringing you all the latest updates from Enda Kenny’s visit to Washington this week, including his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Thursday.
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