BOSTON — A storm expected to bring more than a foot of snow, powerful winds and punishing cold pushed into the Northeast on Thursday, extending Christmas break for some students while posing the first test for New York’s new mayor and perhaps the last challenge for Boston’s outgoing one.
Some schools in New England and New York closed well ahead of the snow, while cities mobilized plows and salt spreaders, and state offices sent workers home early. Some major highways were ordered closed overnight. U.S. airlines canceled more than 1,800 flights nationwide Thursday in advance of the storm.
The heavy weather began rolling in just a day after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in to lead the nation’s largest city and a few days before Boston Mayor Thomas Menino ends 20 years in office.
Menino announced a parking ban and said schools would be closed today in Boston, where up to 14 inches of snow was expected. Boston’s airport said it would not handle any flights after 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
De Blasio, who as public advocate in 2010 criticized predecessor Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his handling of a post-Christmas storm, said hundreds of plows and salt spreaders were on the streets as soon as the snow started falling Thursday night.
Snow began falling overnight Wednesday in parts of New England and New York state, but the brunt of the storm arrived late Thursday. Forecasters said temperatures would plummet, with some areas seeing highs just above zero and wind-chill readings of minus-10 and colder.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Cape Cod and Long Island, where 8 to 10 inches of snow could fall and winds could gust to 45 mph.
“We’re going to see a lot of snow and a lot of wind,” forecaster Jason Tuell said. “We’re concerned about whiteout conditions possibly tonight with the blowing and drifting snow.”
Douglass Bibule shopped for rock salt and other supplies Thursday at a home improvement store in Watertown, Mass.
“Well, there will be some shoveling that I will have to do and some sanding. I’ve got to go home and do some stretching exercises to make sure I don’t hurt myself while doing that, and do a little shopping to make sure that we have all the supplies that we need. We need food because we have three older children at home.”