Tue, December 28, 2010
World > Americas

New York grinds to a halt in heaviest snow in six decades

2010-12-28 12:39:37 GMT2010-12-28 20:39:37 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Girls play on the snow in New York's Central Park, Dec. 27, 2010. New York bore the brunt as heavy snow began falling late Sunday morning and is expected to last into Monday morning, possibly piling up 38 to 50 cm of snow amid 64 to 96 kph gale. More than 1,000 flights have been canceled in major area airports of LaGuardia, Newark and JFK airports. (Xinhua/Wu Kaixiang)

A dog walks through the New York's Central Park, Dec. 27, 2010. New York bore the brunt as heavy snow began falling late Sunday morning and is expected to last into Monday morning, possibly piling up 38 to 50 cm of snow amid 64 to 96 kph gale. More than 1,000 flights have been canceled in major area airports of LaGuardia, Newark and JFK airports. (Xinhua/Wu Kaixiang)

Passengers walk on the streets of New York, Dec. 27, 2010. New York bore the brunt as heavy snow began falling late Sunday morning and is expected to last into Monday morning, possibly piling up 38 to 50 cm of snow amid 64 to 96 kph gale. More than 1,000 flights have been canceled in major area airports of LaGuardia, Newark and JFK airports. (Xinhua/Wu Kaixiang)

NEW YORK, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- The most severe blizzard in 60 years, making its way across New York City since Sunday, has created chaos for the city's commuters.

By Monday evening, the whole city was covered with snow as deep as 20 inches (51 centimeters). While the snowfall already stopped and the sky was clear, thick snow and ice as well as gusty winds of up to 45 mph are threatening misery for people set to go back to work from the holiday weekend.

The normally overcrowded Fifth Avenue of Manhattan was almost deserted during the morning rush hour, with few cars on the roads. Instead, pedestrians were making their way through the snow-encrusted street, as the sidewalks were blanketed by thick snow.

The local government mobilized 365 salt-spraying wagons and 1,700 snow-plowing trucks to clean the streets. Main avenues were clear of snow, mounds of snow remained on many roads and streets. Despite signs of warnings, cars were seen sliding on slippery roads.

Few buses were running in the city. The city's signature yellow cabs, which normally wait in line to pick up passengers, were hard to find. Phone calls to limo services companies went unanswered.

Though snow stopped, people heading back to work after the holiday weekend found it difficult to get on their way. Public transportation, which New Yorkers normally depend on when going out, was almost paralyzed.

Every single subway line was subjected to schedule changes. People waited anxiously for half an hour or even longer on platforms, but nobody was sure whether the trains were running at all. The New York MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Administration) kept updating changes on its website, and by mid-Monday only a couple of lines were running regular routes.

The heaviest snow in six decades shut down the city's air traffic as well. Three major airports in the New York area resumed operations on Monday evening, but major airlines warned that delays and cancellations were expected.

More than 6,000 flights have been cancelled since Sunday as a severe snow storm made its way through the Northeast region of the U.S. Thousands of travelers trying to get home after the holiday weekend were stranded.

New York City's Central Park had 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snow by Monday morning, the thickest for the month since 1948, the U.S. National Weather Service said.

But a city trapped in snow turned out to be fun for many. Kids were climbing the small snow mountains on street corners. City parks became playgrounds as parents would take their children skiing or snowboarding.

For many tourists, it is a rare time they could see the Big Apple in an astonishing snow scene. "Today it's too cold. It's difficult to walk around New York, but it's the best scene in the world, I think," said an Italian tourist who identified himself only as Agostimo and was visiting New York with his girlfriend.

"We are excited, very excited. Because New York with snow is more beautiful than normal," Agostimo said.

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