UPDATED 7:53 AM PT – Friday, December 18, 2020
A major snowstorm hit the northeastern U.S., breaking records in Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts. Winter Storm Gail swept through the region late Wednesday night and into Thursday, bringing snow, freezing rain and heavy winds.
More than a dozen states, including New Jersey, declared a state of emergency and shut down both transportation as well as power services. According to reports, up to 15 percent of flights have been cancelled in the tri-state area with more expected as the weather worsens.
Despite the warnings, however, hundreds of car crashes were reported with several fatalities and multiple injuries. Police in Pennsylvania reported a 66 car pileup in Clinton County and 19 cars collided in New York on the Henry Hudson Bridge. Both areas received a record breaking 40 inches of snow on Thursday.
I 80 multi vehicle fatal crash pic.twitter.com/eQPkGSjSJq
— Troopers Angela Bieber and Mark Reasner (@PSPTroopFPIO) December 17, 2020
Boston, Massachusetts also received more than nine inches of snow, breaking its previous record for the month of December.
The wintry mix has led a number of local government officials to suspend outdoor dining and in-person learning.
A number of coronavirus testing centers have temporarily closed as well, but New York City Mayor Bill de Dlasio (D) said the storm will in no way hinder efforts to distribute a vaccine.
“There’s no one with more motivation, literally no one in New York City with more motivation to get these vaccinations to happen quickly than our healthcare workers and our healthcare leaders. They want to get this done. They’re going to move this very, very aggressively. But the storm at this point does not present any meaningful change to our schedule”
His comments were echoed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar who said the agency is monitoring “any potential impact of the storm on the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to hospitals.”
Azar went on to assure the public, noting “this is Fedex, this is UPS express shipping — they know how to deal with bad weather.”
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