- The Washington Times - Monday, February 1, 2021

A major winter storm system walloped the Northeast on Monday, prompting hundreds of travel delays and closures of schools and coronavirus testing/vaccination sites.

A storm system that had dumped several feet of snow in the Midwest over the weekend merged with a secondary system brewing off the southeastern coast of Virginia, creating the region’s first nor’easter of the year, forecasters said.

New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut are under a state of emergency until Tuesday as some areas are expected to accumulate up to 2 feet of snow, according to AccuWeather.com.

New Jersey’s six mass vaccination sites were closed Monday, most vaccine appointments in Connecticut were postponed, and appointments in New York City scheduled for Monday and Tuesday were cancelled.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Monday that “travel around the city will be too dangerous” as up to 22 inches of snow could cover the city by Tuesday.

“[W]e could see two inches an hour. Be patient. Stay home and stay off the roads,” the mayor tweeted.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy echoed Mr. de Blasio’s comments, urging residents to prepare for potential power outages caused by high wind gusts.

In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that all coronavirus test sites would be closed Monday, after having issued a issued a citywide snow emergency Sunday.

Metrobuses will continue operating Tuesday on “moderate snow plan,” which includes the normal transit schedule with some detours and route suspensions.

More than 200 snow plows applied salt and cleared the city’s roads throughout Sunday and Monday. As of Monday afternoon, just over 30 plows were deployed, according to Nancee Lyons, a spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Public Works.

Meanwhile, parts of the surrounding metropolitan area received 2 to 5 inches of snow as of Monday morning — making it the biggest storm to hit the region in the last two years.

Several coronavirus vaccine and test sites throughout Maryland and Virginia were closed Monday, along with a number of businesses and schools.

Shantee Felix, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Transportation, said in an email that “we are not out of the woods yet, and we continue to advise people to stay indoors if they can.”

“[W]e have about 2,500 pieces of equipment on our roadways throughout the state,” Ms. Felix said. “We remain in emergency operations mode and our crews are working around the clock to keep the roads safe.”

Maryland State Police said in an email that between 8 a.m. Sunday and 4 p.m. Monday troopers had responded to 470 crashes, 216 unattended or disabled cars and 1,418 calls for service.

In Virginia, roads were calmer Monday after a rough start to the winter storm over the weekend. Virginia State Police responded to more than 360 crashes and 321 disabled or stuck vehicles just on Sunday. Crashes overnight and throughout the day were minimal on Monday. Virginia State Police said most of the crashes involved only damaged vehicles and resulted in few serious injuries.

However, four firefighters in Central Virginia were hospitalized Sunday after their firetruck overturned when responding to a call. All four were able to exit the vehicle on their own and had nonlife-threatening injuries.

Jennifer McCord, communications manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation, said road crews will continue to treat and plow roads into Tuesday.

“While interstates, major routes and major secondary roads are mostly clear and wet, the low temperatures will mean a continued refreeze overnight,” Ms. McCord said in an email. “We will continue to have about 2,000 trucks working overnight to retreat slick spots with salt and/or sand, especially bridges, ramps, overpasses, hills and curves. Tree crews will also be working to cut and remove any branches fallen from ice and expected wind.”

The D.C. area could receive up to 2 more inches of snow as scattered showers mixed with rain move throughout the area overnight and into Tuesday, according to AccuWeather.com.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory until midnight Monday for the District, parts of Central Maryland, Northern and Northwest Virginia, as well as eastern West Virginia and the panhandle.

The Northeast’s severe weather comes as Punxsutawney Phil is expected to predict the rest of the winter season when he emerges from his hole on Groundhog Day.

Due to the pandemic, the traditional event will be held virtually from the groundhog’s hometown Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania — which is expected to receive up to 12 inches of snow Tuesday.

χ This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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