, NEW YORK, United States, Jan 27 – A major storm forced New York to impose driving bans and halt public transport late Monday, as snowfall pounded the northeastern United States affecting tens of millions of people.
Heavy snowfall, combined with powerful wind and even thunderstorms is expected to dump two to three feet (up to a meter) of snow in New York, but with New England worst affected.
More than 7,100 flights were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday, as Manhattan was abandoned by panicked commuters rushing home early, leaving behind eerily quiet snowy streets.
New York shut its transit system at 11pm, made non-emergency road travel a criminal offense in 13 counties and closed tunnels and bridges connecting Manhattan to New Jersey.
“It could be a matter of life and death, and that’s not being overly dramatic, so caution is required,” New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo warned.
The subway last closed for Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which killed more than 200 people and caused months-long power cuts.
States of emergency were declared in states across the affected region as residents rushed to supermarkets to stockpile food.
“I have nothing to eat, I need some food. Who knows if tomorrow I’m going to leave my house,” said boutique worker Rosa Ramirez, queuing outside an upmarket Whole Foods store in Manhattan.
“What I do not know is how long I’ll have to wait,” she said, as snow and icy wind gusted through the queue of shoppers.
New York’s famed Broadway and top music venues – including Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera – shelved performances. NBA games were also postponed.