Storm Stella brings life to a standstill along the mid-Atlantic coast

Mythili Sampathkumar
Snow, freezing rain, and ice bring the northeast corridor to a halt: AFP

The late winter storm, dubbed Stella, slammed the eastern seaboard and brought life to a standstill.

The National Weather Service called it a “rapidly intensifying” storm that affected approximately 50 million people from Virginia to Maine.

Stella comes on the heels of record-high temperatures for a short period in February in the region.

In Washington, DC federal government employees were told to work from home if possible or arrive three hours late.

Parts of northern Pennsylvania reported nearly 16 inches of snow before 9 am, with the mountains there and in upstate New York recording over two feet.

Amtrak, a popular option for travel along the Atlantic seaboard, halted all service.

The US Postal Service also cancelled mail delivery for the day.

In New York above-ground commuter trains and parts of subway lines ended service mid-day due to ice on the tracks and increasing thunder and rain.

Satellite imagery shows storm activity over the eastern US (AFP/Getty)

However, previous estimates on record-breaking snow and blizzard conditions were scaled back by the morning when it was clear the storm would include freezing rain, not massive snowfall, for the metro area.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo quipped during a press conference, “Mother Nature is an unpredictable lady sometimes.”

New York can now expect four to eight inches of snow in the next day.

Many meteorologists say that many people further inland and in New England are still expected to get up to two feet of snow.

New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Pennsylvania have all declared states of emergency and drivers have been told to stay off the road given poor visibility and continued sleet and ice formation.

In anticipation of a large storm, grocery stores were raided up and down the mid-Atlantic coast - with many documenting empty shelves and long lines via social media.

Schools were also closed for the day in New York City, Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia, and Northern New Jersey.

Air travel was perhaps the hardest hit sector - nearly 6,000 flights were canceled all across the region with 3,300 of them in the New York area.

American Airlines cancelled all flights to and from John F. Kennedy, Laguardia, and Newark airports in the New York area.

Delta alone cancelled 800 flights in the northeast corridor between Philadelphia and Boston.

Television news reports showed nearly empty airports normally bustling with thousands of travelers.

Despite the early warnings of the storm and sub-optimal flying conditions, hundreds were stranded and the ripple effect has caused approximate 1,600 flight delays across the country, according to CNBC.

Losing electricity for residences and offices has also been a problem due to Stella.

Power company PSE&G told CNBC that 15,000 customers were without power due to ice and trees falling on above-ground power lines, common in the area.

Central Maine Power reports 13,000 customers without power.

Estimates on the cost of Stella is still being calculated but the New York City Comptroller’s office said snow removal and road salting will be between $24 million to $36 million.

News reports from throughout the affected region showed businesses empty of customers who have stayed indoors or at home due to the weather.