Normally the weather is the default topic for people you don’t want to be talking with you. But Monday, it was pretty much the only thing worth talking about as a blizzard pounded the entire East Coast like Mike Tyson, bringing new meaning to the term “crappy holiday travel”. Just how bad was it? Let’s take a look.
What, precisely, were we dealing with in the skies? It’s called a “thundersnow”, as it’s basically a thunderstorm, except cold enough that it dumps snow on your parade (or travel route) instead of rain. In other words, a hurricane that you have to plow, except you might get hit with lightning while shoveling out. Oh, and there were also wind gusts of up to 80 miles per hour. You know, just to add to all the fun we were already having.
It also happened to be an absolutely huge storm system. The net result? Virginia to Maine got absolutely buried in snow. By far the worst hit was New Jersey, which the storm decided to park over and unload to the tune of two feet of snow over much of the Garden State, which combined with the wind to create five-foot drifts across the state.
Not that New York City has any reason to make fun of Jersey for once; it got nailed too, with more than a foot of snow. Boston got more than a foot as well, so it was pretty much just a bad day for Northeast rivalries all around. But at least they were prepared for it, having actually had some snowfall. Areas further south, which generally don’t get eight to ten inches of snow and driving winds, didn’t fare so well, with almost total shutdown reported in some areas.
Just to really spread the misery on one of the busiest travel days of the season, some of the busiest airports in America were completely shut down. JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark were all completely shut down, forced to cancel flights until 4pm Monday. Boston’s Logan Airport was technically open, but not many flights were departing, so essentially four major international airports weren’t taking all the post-holiday traffic that was flooding them.
More than 2000 flights were canceled, meaning thousands of travelers were pretty much reduced to finding hotels or crashing at the terminal waiting for a flight, and causing air traffic problems that cascaded around the world. Some passengers were stuck on the tarmac for nine hours before being unleashed onto the unsuspecting airports. Some passengers couldn’t get access to their checked bags and were left without fresh clothes or toiletries, just to add to the general lack of fun.
Not that travelers on the roads or the rails had any better time of it. Amtrak shut down rail service between New York and Maine, and only had limited service between Boston and New York; the Long Island Railroad shut down completely. Plows had trouble keeping up with some major roads thanks to dozens of stalled cars on the highway and on the on-ramps.
And, finally, for those who stayed home, those 80 mph wind gusts were happy to bring a little of the pain by knocking out power in dozens of areas.
Next year, let’s all ask for decent travel weather for Christmas.
- Travel was miserable, according to the Wall Street Journal. (WSJ)
- The Washington Post explains exactly what the heck it was that was destroying everybody’s post-holiday travel (Washington Post)
- Oh, and it was terrible in airports too. (MSNBC)
- Whenever there’s a situation, there’s always somebody to take advantage, and in this case it’s none other than 50 Cent. Yes, the guy drinking Bacardi in the club like it’s your birthday. He’s going door to door with a shovel and a few helpers, chargin $100 per house to shovel out driveways and sidewalks. Hey, we’d pay it just for the photographs. And, yes, that’s him at left. (Huffington Post)
- This isn’t really news, but a major event just isn’t a major event in the news cycle without somebody in the media bellyaching about what a bunch of wussies we’ve become thanks to the media. Take it away, Christian Science Monitor! (CSM)