New York City and Long Island banned travel Saturday, Jan. 23, including all transit from New Jersey bridges and tunnels into and out of the city as a deadly snowstorm has left major roadways, airports, and cities along the east coast largely immobilized, reports USA Today.
“If you are out on the street, get in now,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
The Weather Channel reports more than 60 million people were under blizzard, winter storm, or freezing rain warnings as the storm’s effects stretched from Georgia to Massachusetts. The Weather Channel reports nearly 250,000 customers were without power as the snowstorm made its way along the east coast.
According to the Associated Press, 12 people have died in storm-related crashes in Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. A man in Fort Washington, Maryland, died of a heart attack while shoveling snow. Others suffered the same fate in New York.
.@NYPDChiefofDept: 343 tows. 312 accidents and 3 storm related deaths from the snow so far.— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) January 23, 2016
Eleven states, from Georgia to New York, are currently under a state of emergency.
Air traffic across the east coast has also come to a halt with more than 9,500 flights canceled nationwide by Saturday afternoon.
Public transportation in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., was also shut down as local officials asked residents to stay inside and off of the streets for a second day.
The New York Police Department has set up checkpoints to enforce the travel ban.
The NYPD Has Set Up Checkpoints To Enforce The Travel Ban pic.twitter.com/lciCcOx98W— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) January 23, 2016
“This event has all the makings of a multi-billion-dollar economic cost,” meteorologist Steven Bowen of Aon Benfield, a London-based global reinsurance firm, told USA Today.
“When combining the actual physical damage to residential and commercial properties, plus automobiles and infrastructure, and adding business interruption losses, we’re potentially looking at one of the costlier winter storm events in recent memory,” he said.
According to Bowen, the Blizzard of 1996, which had a similar size and scope to this snowstorm, had a $4.6 billion economic cost (in 2016 dollars).
“Obviously no two events are identical, but this provides some context as to how costly these storms can be.”
As the travel ban took effect, the National Weather Service estimated 24-30 inches of snow for the metropolitan area, putting it within range of the city’s biggest snowstorm on record.
The order, effective mid-afternoon, shut down state highways and two major routes on Long Island. Subway stations in New York City were also being closed as the snowstorm continued.
During the ban, only emergency vehicles will be allowed on the streets. The New York Police Department has made it clear that those who ignore the order could face heavy fines and license points.
After 2:30 p.m and you're on the road, we will arrest you @NYPDChiefofDept says— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) January 23, 2016
According to The Broadway League, the official website of the Broadway theatre industry, all Broadway matinees and evening performances for Saturday night have been cancelled.
And as for playing in the snow, Mayor Bill de Blasio says to do so with caution.
“If you want to go really quickly to someplace near your home, stay with your kids — adult supervision necessary,” he said. “This is a vastly intensifying storm and it’s slippery, it’s gusty. I, as a parent, wouldn’t let my kids out of my sight.”
According to The Weather Channel, all precipitation associated with Winter Storm Jonas should move off of the Atlantic coast before sunrise Sunday, leaving clear skies for the day. Temperatures in most of the affected areas should climb at least a few degrees above freezing, allowing the cleanup to begin.
[AP Photo/Alex Brandon]