Two men walk down Pinckney Street on Beacon Hill in Boston,
Massachusetts. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
The latest in a series of winter storms has hit the
United States, threatening to drop up to 30cm of snow in
central New England, snarling travel and eating into supplies
of salt needed to keep roads clear.
Officials in New York and New Jersey warned they were
beginning to run short of the rock salt used by road crews to
keep ice from building up on highways and local roads, the
result of the season's repeated storms.
"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 state."
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
"Our supplies are dwindling," Dee added. "We have plenty for
this storm. We're looking at some weekend storms and we have
enough for that, but we're going to start to get low. We need
some good weather and a chance to replenish our supplies."
As of Jan. 26, New Jersey had spent $60 million on snow
removal, putting it in place to break the record of $62.5
million spent last year, Dee said. Connecticut was on pace to
exceed its $30 million budget, but had the means to continue
funding snow removal, a Department of Transportation
New York City has spread some 346,000 tons of rock salt on
its roads so far this year, almost the total for last winter,
said Belinda Mager, a spokeswoman for the city Department of
Sanitation. The city has spent $57.3 million on snow removal
so far this winter, putting it on track to top last year's
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
"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
Some commercial suppliers have run out of rock salt.
"We're just continuing to get crushed by these storms. 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."
Heavy show was expected from the Great Lakes through New
England, with freezing rain dominating south of New York. In
the Boston area, snow was falling at a rate of 1 to 2 inches
(2 to 5 cm) per hour, making roads treacherous and causing
schools to be closed.
"The worst will be along the higher terrain, around central
New England," said Benjamin Sipprell, a meteorologist with
the National Weather Service. "Southern parts of Vermont and
New Hampshire around the border with Massachusetts could see
up to around a foot (30 cm) of snow."
By mid-morning, 9.5 inches (24 cm) of snow had fallen in
Burlington, in central Connecticut, 9 inches (23 cm) in
Southbridge, in southern Massachusetts, and 12.5 inches (32
cm) in Newburgh, New York, north of New York City, according
to the National Weather Service.
Connecticut's governor urged people to stay off icy roads.
"With heavy snow falling across the state and a mix of sleet
and freezing rain on the way, I am asking residents to avoid
unnecessary travel," said Dannel Malloy. "If you can stay
home or work from home, please do."
Almost 900,000 homes and businesses were without power in the
U.S. Midwest and Northeast early Wednesday following severe
snow and ice storms overnight, according to local power
The hardest hit state was Pennsylvania with over 640,000
customers without power on Wednesday morning.
Other hard-hit states include Maryland, West Virginia,
Arkansas, New Jersey, Kentucky, Delaware, Ohio, Virginia,
Indiana and New York.
In New York City, schools were open despite the weather. In
Brooklyn, parents were walking their kids to class as crews
used electric snowblowers to keep sidewalks clear.
Renita Stefanec dropped off her 7-year-old for class with her
5-year-old in tow.
"It's sloppy, it's messy, but if you live close it's doable,"
she said of the trek. "If it's too bad out, they just don't
come. They keep the kids home. But if you're close, it's
Even with all the bad weather this winter, schools have
stayed open, something Stefanec thinks is a good idea.
"I prefer them to come to school. Because if they don't, they
take it away from vacation days."