28 Jan 2015

Chiefs defend New York shutdown

9:01 pm on 28 January 2015
A pedestrian dressed as Bigfoot makes their way through the strong wind and snow in Boston.

A pedestrian dressed as Bigfoot makes their way through the strong wind and snow in Boston. Photo: AFP

New York authorities and meteorologists on Tuesday defended a decision to shut down America's biggest city for a storm that skirted the Big Apple, dumping the worst snow east and north.

Travel bans were lifted, public transport resumed and parks reopened in the city of eight million people, easing many of the measures put in place as Winter Storm Juno moved in on Monday.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city got only a fraction of the 60cm of snow which had been widely predicted in the 48 hours leading up to the storm.

"You plan the best you can and you lean toward safety," New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo said, fending off a barrage of questions.

"It may actually have brought us back to full operating capacity sooner but I do not criticise weather forecasters. I learn."

The clean-up will continue until Wednesday, when schools will reopen, and city and state employees will return to work.

Broadway theatres announced that most shows would go ahead Tuesday as planned, after the Great White Way went dark on Monday.

Falls vary

In the end, snowfall varied throughout the New York City area, with some parts of the city receiving as little as 10cm.

Cuomo lifted the travel ban, which was imposed at 11pm on Monday, at 8am. Limited rail and subway services resumed and will be back to normal by Wednesday.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also lifted the travel ban in his state but officials in both states nevertheless warned against all but essential travel.

A driving ban was also later lifted in Connecticut.

Flight disruptions are still extensive. About 5300 flights within, to and from the United States were cancelled for Tuesday and Wednesday, according to flightaware.com.

Officials said virtually all flights at New York's LaGuardia airport were cancelled Tuesday as well as most at Newark and John F. Kennedy international airports.

Thousands were without power along the coast of Massachusetts, including on Nantucket Island, where some were evacuated from their homes, local media reported.

- AFP

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