The snow and ice storms in the country's Northeast triggered
states of emergency in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and
some districts reported stocks of the salt used to keep roads
ice-free were running low.
The hardest-hit state was Pennsylvania, where 849,000 customers were
without electricity at one point, according to the governor. By 8
p.m. local time (0100 GMT Thursday), the figure was just over
625,000, said Cory Angell, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania
Emergency Management Agency.
In all, over a million Northeast homes and businesses were cut off,
according to local power companies.
Throughout the United States, 2,893 flights were canceled on
Wednesday, according to FlightAware.com, an online flight tracking
In the Northeast, roughly half the departing flights were canceled
out of Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia in New York and
Boston's Logan International, FlightAware said.
Snow continued to fall in patches along the East Coast, but by early
on Thursday the storm looked to have largely run its course, a
forecaster at the National Weather Service said.
In some areas, stocks of rock salt run down during the season's
series of heavy storms were almost depleted, with officials in New
York and New Jersey as well as commercial suppliers saying they were
"We have a salt shortage for some parts of the state, primarily New
York City and the Long Island area, because there have been so many
storms this season already," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told
reporters on a conference call. "The state does have a significant
amount of salt on hand. We'll be shipping that salt around the
Neighboring New Jersey reported a similar shortage.
"We've had so many storms, one after another, that it definitely has
put a very significant demand on salt," said Joe Dee, a spokesman
for the state Department of Transportation.
"Our supplies are dwindling (though) we have plenty for this storm."
As of January 26, New Jersey had spent $60 million on snow removal,
putting it on track to break the record of $62.5 million spent last
year, Dee said.
Most U.S. states and major cities do not try to set an upper limit
on spending for snow removal but authorize agencies to spend what is
necessary and count on legislatures to cover the cost.
"Before I became governor, I never saw winter in budgetary terms,
but now I do," Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told local WBZ
radio, adding that he was counting on lawmakers to fund the state's
rising snow-removal and salt tab.
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Some commercial suppliers said they had run out.
"With major rock salt shortages, it's starting to get scary out
there," said Anthony Scorzetti, a hardware and paint manager for
Braen Supply in Wanaque, New Jersey. "I have people calling from all
parts of the East Coast looking for it, and we just have nothing."
Tom Breier, general manager of Ice Melt Chicago, a supplier based in
Lisle, Illinois, said he got a call from a New York supplier
pleading for salt but could not help.
Bruce Small, 58, an aircraft mechanic from Milford, Connecticut,
called the local road conditions "horrible."
More than 300 traffic accidents were reported on major roadways and
side streets in the state, though there were no fatalities,
according to Connecticut State Police.
The same storm system earlier claimed the life of a woman in a
Chicago suburb, who died after being struck in a parking lot on
Wednesday morning by a pickup truck fitted with a snowplow,
Ice Melt Chicago's Breier said the weather was also disrupting
A lot of the salt in the Chicago area is delivered along the
Mississippi and Illinois rivers on barges, but the Illinois was
frozen. The salt was arriving by truck, he said, increasing freight
Denver, Colorado recorded a cold weather record for February 5, with
the day's high staying below zero Fahrenheit at minus 1 (minus 18
"This is likely the coldest air mass we'll see in Colorado for
2014," said National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Ferdin.
(Additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago, Edward Krudy
and Scott DiSavino in New York, Richard Weizel in Connecticut,
Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Eric M. Johnson in
Seattle, Keith Coffman in Denver and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los
Angeles; editing by Lisa Shumaker and John Stonestreet)
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