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A treacherous commute of lashing winds, slick streets and low visibility awaited workers Monday as a winter storm that dumped about a foot of snow on southern New England continued crawling up the East Coast, stranding thousands of airline, bus and rail passengers.

The blizzard conditions wreaked havoc on travelers from the Carolinas to Maine and forced the suspension of operations at some of the nation’s busiest airports.

Airlines scrambled to rebook passengers on thousands of canceled flights — more than 1,400 out of the New York City area’s three major airports alone — but said they didn’t expect normal service to resume until Tuesday. Amtrak canceled train service from New York to Maine after doing the same earlier for several trains in Virginia. The nation’s largest commuter rail system, New York’s Long Island Rail Road, also suspended service.

Bus companies canceled routes up and down the East Coast, and drivers faced hazardous travel conditions — sometimes with close to zero visibility. The storm, the first widespread blizzard of the season, unleashed powerful winds as it moved northward up the coast, dumping up to 18 inches of sideways-blowing snow on some areas.

The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings from Maine to New Jersey with winter storm warnings in effect for nearly the entire East Coast.

It said the heaviest snowfall had occurred in eastern New Jersey, New York City and western Long Island. The forecast was for up to 25 inches of snow in parts of the region.

Many motorists heeded warnings to stay off of the roads. Traffic moved slowly on the region’s highways, though New York-area bridges and tunnels remained open. Some bridges had reduced speed limits imposed. A blizzard warning, which is issued when snow is accompanied by sustained winds or gusts over 35 mph, was in effect early Monday from Delaware to the far northern tip of Maine. The storm was expected to bring its heaviest snowfall in the pre-dawn hours Monday, sometimes dumping 2 to 4 inches an hour. A total of 12 to 16 inches was expected across nearly all of Rhode Island, Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts, though forecasters said winds of 50 mph could create much deeper snow drifts.

States of emergency were declared in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Maine and Massachusetts, where Gov. Deval Patrick urged people who did not have to be on the roads to stay home, to ensure their safety and that of work crews. Nonessential state workers were told to stay home Monday.

State police in Rhode Island responded to several snow-related car accidents, including at least two rollovers, but no serious injuries were reported.

Please be safe out there if this pertains to you!!!


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