More than 700 flights were cancelled, thousands more were delayed, and there were over 100 accidents on snow-slicked roads in a single state as winter weather made a mess of Thanksgiving travel plans Wednesday — and the snow was still falling over the Northeast into Thursday.
The treacherous conditions led New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to declare a state of emergency with speed restrictions enforced on major routes in the state. In neighboring Connecticut, state police recorded at least 125 accidents. More than 7,000 homes and businesses were also without power, NBC Connecticut reported.
And although the worst of the wintry weather was set to be over in time for New York's City Macy's parade, much of the west coast is braced for a heavy rain and possible snow through the weekend.
Winter weather forced the cancellation of 748 flights Wednesday and delayed 4,794 more, with the majority of the cancelled flights in the northeast. Arriving planes at Newark Liberty airport in New Jersey, LaGuardia in New York and Philadelphia International because of the rain and fog.
The Interstate 95 corridor, stretching from about Washington, D.C., to Maine, has been a dividing point for the weather: To the east, mostly rain, and to the west, mostly snow. Paw Paw, West Virginia, has seen about 18 inches, while Plainfield, Massachusetts, has gotten about 7 inches.
"If this was any other day of the year, it would be a pretty big storm but nothing too out of the ordinary," said Kevin Roth, a meteorologist at The Weather Channel. "But it’s come at one of the worst possible times, the day before Thanksgiving."
By Wednesday evening 6.7 inches of snow fell in Albany, New York, breaking a single-day record — with more on the way, the National Weather Service said. Bergen County, New Jersey, saw over 4 inches of snow, and parts of Maine got over eight inches ahead of Thanksgiving. The interior New England was predicted to get as much as a foot and a half.
Amtrak said it was in good shape: "The system is working, just busy," said Kimberly Woods, a spokeswoman.
The Defense Department said it would open unused military airspace for commercial flights through Sunday. The airspace, mainly on the East Coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Southwest, will make available “more highways in the sky that we can move planes through to get people to their destination efficiently,” said Michael Huerta, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.
The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings — many upped from winter weather advisories — across a large icicle-shaped area from the Canada Border to North Carolina. The snow was likely to wind up in most places by Wednesday night but would linger in Boston until early Thursday, according to Roth.
The Midwest and Ohio Valley will see temperatures plunge about 10 to 20 degrees below normal during the holiday.
One silver lining after the storm system passes: No serious winds. That means the floats in New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade should be flying high, meteorologists said.