Weather warning for east coast USA downgraded as storm abates

Tens of millions of people along the US East Coast hunkered down for a storm which for most failed to live up to predictions. The National Weather Service said the blizzard warning for the city had been cancelled, while a ban on travel in the region was lifted. The subway resumed limited service around 9am.

A man sleds down a hill in Prospect Park, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

A man sleds down a hill in Prospect Park, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Image by (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Forecasters originally said the storm could bring up to three feet of snow and punishing hurricane-force winds. But early on Tuesday, they downgraded most of those numbers, saying New England would fare the worst, but even then, not as bad as expected. Bruce Sullivan, of the National Weather Service, said Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could get the most snow - about two feet. New York could see up to 20 inches, Hartford, Connecticut, up to two feet, and Philadelphia and central New Jersey about six inches.

Men shovel a pedestrian walkway in New York's Times Square

Men shovel a pedestrian walkway in New York's Times Square Image by (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The National Weather Service over the weekend had issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile (400km) swathe of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential white-out conditions. On Monday, life abruptly stopped across the region as officials ordered workers to go home early, banned travel, closed bridges and tunnels, and assembled their biggest ploughing crews. "When you wake up in the morning, it is going to look like a blizzard," said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, echoing the concern of many government leaders.

Light snow fell steadily early on Tuesday in midtown Manhattan as a few municipal trucks rumbled down empty streets. The city had an almost eerie feel to it, with no planes in the sky making for an unexpected quiet, the Press Association (PA) reports. More than 7,700 flights in and out of the north east were cancelled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday. Schools and businesses finished early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left. Broadway stages went dark. Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to go home and stay there, adding: "People have to make smart decisions from this point on." Commuters like Sameer Navi, of Long Island, were following the advice.

A person walks a dog in Riverside Park in New York

A person walks a dog in Riverside Park in New York Image by (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

The 27-year-old, who works for Citigroup in Manhattan, said he takes a train every day and left work early on Monday after warnings by local officials to get home before the brunt of the storm. "I did leave earlier than usual," he said.

In New Jersey, snowploughs and salt spreaders remained at work on the roads on Monday night in Ocean County, one of the coastal areas that was expected to be among the hardest hit. There was a coating of snow on the roads, but hardly any vehicles were travelling on them, as residents seemed content to stay indoors and monitor the storm in comfort. Most businesses in the area had gone dark, including some convenience stores and gas stations.

Roberto Perez uses a snowblower to clear a sidewalk following an overnight snowstorm, in Hoboken, N.J.

Roberto Perez uses a snowblower to clear a sidewalk following an overnight snowstorm, in Hoboken, N.J. Image by (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Earlier in the day, Nicole Coelho, a nanny from Lyndhurst, New Jersey, stocked up on macaroni and cheese, frozen pizzas and milk at a supermarket. "I'm going to make sure to charge up my cellphone, and I have a good book I haven't gotten around to reading yet," she said. On Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange stayed open and said it would operate normally today as well. Utility companies across the region put additional crews on stand-by to deal with anticipated power outages.

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