Snow blankets Northeast, breaking records in some areas

By THALIA BEATY and SOPHIA TULP for the Associated Press

The first major snowstorm of the season left the Northeast blanketed in snow, setting records in some areas.

Dr. Charles Blomquist plays with his Newfoundland Daphne at St. Joseph’s on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Pittsfield, Mass. (Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP)

“Williamsport Regional Airport made history,” the National Weather Service in State College said, reporting 24.7 inches of snow. Forecasters said that was the most snow in that location from a single storm on record, breaking the previous record of 24.1 inches set there in January 1964.

Much of the Pennsylvania’s western and central regions saw accumulations in the double digits.

Boston already broke the record for snowfall on Dec. 17, recording 9.1 inches falling since midnight on Wednesday, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Norton, Massachusetts, said.

“That is the new record right now, and it will probably be more before it’s done,” Bryce Williams said. The previous record for snow fall on Dec. 17 was recorded in 2013 when 6.4 inches fell in Boston. High elevations in the Berkshires saw the most snow, more than a foot, in Massachusetts. Moderate to heavy snowfall is forecast through Thursday afternoon, with another 3 to 4 inches accumulating before slowly tapering off.

Nearly 40 inches of snow was dumped on Binghamton, New York, as of Thursday morning, with widespread reports of snowfall over 3 feet in Broome County.

A National Weather Service spokesperson said the storm sets a new two-day snowfall record. The previous record was recorded March 2017 with 35.3 inches falling.

It took Fred Cullin, 23, more than an hour and a half to dig his way out of his steep, lakeside driveway in Ithaca, New York, that was packed with nearly 3 feet of snow piled up by plows.

“It was pretty crazy,” Cullin said. “Shoveling uphill, on ice, was definitely interesting.”

He then drove to work at a brewery about 45 minutes north, noting: “The roads are pretty darn brutal. I’m driving in an area I usually do about 60 mph in and I’m cruising at about 40 just to be safe.”

Hazardous road conditions were reported in multiple states, causing dozens of crashes in New Hampshire, Connecticut and eastern New York. New York State police said a snowmobiler was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer on I-787 in downtown Albany early Monday.

The storm came at a critical time of the coronavirus pandemic, though officials said they didn’t expect the winter blast to disrupt vaccine distribution. COVID-19 vaccines started being given to frontline health care workers earlier this week.

The overnight snowfall eclipsed the entire amount recorded for all of last winter in New York City, where 6.5 inches of snow covered Central Park — much less than the initial predictions of up to 12 inches. There was just 4.8 inches of snow tallied in New York City last year.

The storm spurred a shutdown of outdoor dining spaces in New York City that have been set up in roadways during the pandemic and equipped with heaters and other features for winter.

Coming just days after the state again shut down indoor dining in the city, the storm “couldn’t have come at a worse time,” said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, an industry group. “It poses tremendous financial challenges to many restaurants, plus all the stress of securing outdoor dining setups for the weather while hoping what they invested their money in doesn’t get destroyed in the snowstorm.”


AP reporters Thalia Beaty contributed from New York; Sophia Tulp from Atlanta