At least two dead as winter storm slams U.S. Northeast

As much as 2 feet (60 centimetres) of snow in some places

Kris Van Cleave – CBS News

There are 70 million Americans in the middle of a monster winter storm that’s dumping snow, sleet and rain up and down the East Coast. The powerful nor’easter is expected to unload as much as 2 feet (60 centimetres) of snow in some places, bringing 50 mph (80 kph) winds and freezing rain that could lead to wide-spread power outages.

States and cities, including New York and Boston, are already declaring emergencies and shutting down services, including coronavirus testing. There are warnings from Virginia to Maine to stay off the roads as conditions get worse.

One person was killed Wednesday morning on Interstate 81 in Virginia. Brannagan K. Locklear, 19, of Pembroke, North Carolina, died after his car ran off the road, struck an embankment and overturned, according to Virginia State Police. A man walking with a snowblower was also killed in Pennsylvania after he was hit by a plow truck, according to police in Allegheny County.

The storm stretches from Colorado to Maine. There are winter storm warnings in at least 14 states and blizzard conditions are possible with near-zero visibility in some places. 

This storm is just getting started, but it’s already creating chaos. Emergency responders in Pennsylvania were nearly hit by a sliding truck. Slick roads caused a pileup in Virginia. Slippery conditions sent tractor-trailers off the road in Pennsylvania and jackknifed them in Nebraska. In New York City, up to 10 inches of snow is expected. 

“This is going to be a serious storm, and people need to take it seriously,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. “This could be the biggest storm in several years.” 

As of 9:45 p.m. ET, over 42,000 people in Virginia and 12,000 people in New Jersey were without power.

The storm comes as the nation is in the grip of COVID-19.

Coronavirus testing sites are shutting down in several states, including Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. There’s also concern that the weather could halt deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine. Pennsylvania is under a state of emergency and expecting its largest delivery of the vaccine on Thursday. 

“Our team is ready to work collaboratively to address any issues that arise with vaccine transport and distribution,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said Tuesday. 

Wolf has urged residents to stay off the roads to keep them clear for workers distributing the vaccine, as well as emergency responders. 

UPS said the vaccine is its top priority and it will continue making deliveries as long as roads and airports are open and safe to operate. 

Restaurants in New York City, thousands of which have already closed because of the pandemic, must close their outdoor dining operations starting Wednesday, the city’s Department of Sanitation said. Indoor dining had already been shuttered as coronavirus cases climb. 

banner image via CBS News