US & Canada

Winter storm moves from southern US to north-east

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Media captionNew Yorkers were warned to expect tough commutes on Wednesday

A winter storm that pummelled southern US states in the last few days has now hit the north-east, causing travel disruption in the air and on the roads.

Eight inches (20cm) of snow fell on Central Park in New York City and up to 12in in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled and commuters faced major disruption to road and rail services.

At least 14 people died in snow-related incidents earlier in the week as storms hit the less-prepared southern US.

More than 2ft (60cm) of snow fell in parts of Connecticut, where police responded to about 900 car crashes, minor collisions and stranded vehicles.

The storm system forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights in airports in states across the north-east and suspended train travel between New York City and Boston in Massachusetts due to a power system failure near Boston.

Image caption Residents of New York state awoke to a tricky rush hour commute on Wednesday morning

"You can't see across the street. The wind and snow is blowing about 40mph (64km/h) sideways," Massachusetts resident Artie Perrin told the Associated Press news agency.

Roughly 70,000 households in Massachusetts and 8,700 individuals in Rhode Island were left without power on Wednesday, according to the state emergency agencies.

The National Weather Service reported on Wednesday that there was snow on the ground in every US state except for Florida, including Hawaii - which had 7in on the top of the Mauna Kea mountain.

"I think it has happened in the past, but it's not very often that it happens," said weather service spokesman James Peronto.

'Difficult rush hour'

New York's public schools remained open on Wednesday, but schools were shut elsewhere in parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, faced criticism for the way the city handled a snow storm just after Christmas, when parts of its subway ground to a halt, streets were unploughed and ambulances had trouble reaching emergency cases.

He warned New Yorkers to expect a tough commute to work.

"It's going to be a difficult, difficult rush hour," Mr Bloomberg was quoted by AP as saying.

"The storm is predicted to be at its heaviest just a few hours before rush hour, and there's no way that our city's (ploughs) can get to all 6,000 streets in one or two hours."

On Tuesday, a combination of freezing rain and sleet forced school closures in parts of the South for a second day, as residents faced icy roads and downed power lines.

Officials warned motorists to stay off the roads because of the storm, which began blanketing southern states with snow on Sunday, trapping some motorists on highways in Georgia and Arkansas.

An accumulation of ice is expected to stay on roads throughout many states in the southern US until temperatures warm up later in the week, forecasters said.

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