TIME weather

Snow Slams Massachusetts After Mostly Sparing New York City

Heaviest bands of snowfall hit eastern Long Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts

A powerful winter blizzard that spared New York City the worst of its wrath still wreaked havoc across much of New England on Tuesday, with more than two feet of snow expected to fall in Massachusetts along with winds above 70 miles per hour.

Almost 12,000 people lost power in Nantucket, thousands more did in Cape Cod and the coastal town of Scituate was flooded. About one-and-a-half-feet of snow had fallen on Boston by late Tuesday morning, with more expected, the Associated Press reports. The city of Worcester, 60 miles west of Boston, recorded accumulations as high as 25 inches, NBC News reports.

“This is clearly a very big storm for most of Massachusetts,” Gov. Charlie Baker said.

More than 7,000 flights were cancelled because of the snow costing the economy about $230 million, the U.S. Travel Association said. Still, what some had forecast to be one of the worst winter storms in recent history clearly didn’t pack as much punch as expected. Travel bans were lifted in Connecticut and western Massachusetts. And further south in New York City, the most dire predictions failed to materialize, raising questions for city and state officials who ordered a total shutdown of the city’s transportation system. The National Weather Service cancelled its blizzard warning for New York, and one official conceded the forecast had been off.

“This is a big forecast miss,” Gary Szatkowski, a meteorologist at the U.S. National Weather Service, said on Twitter.

The heaviest bands of snowfall skirted east of the city, blanketing eastern Long Island and parts of Connecticut with more than a foot of snow. But accumulations in New York and New Jersey ranged from two to six inches as of early Tuesday morning. Forecasts had called for between 20 and 30 inches of snow in the city.

MORE: Why the Big Blizzard Fizzled in New York

“The storm in general, I think it’s fair to say, was less destructive than predicted so far,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a Tuesday morning press briefing. Cuomo announced a resumption of subway service by 9 a.m. ET, but urged commuters to stay home and away from “hazardous” roads. “If you don’t have to travel today, you really don’t want to be traveling today.”

“The heaviest snows have struggled to move west of the Hudson River,” the National Weather Service announced on its New York State Facebook page, adding, “the science of forecasting storms, while continually improving, still can be subject to error.”

MORE: Why Blizzards Turn Us Into Irrational Hoarders at the Grocery Store

New Jersey lifted a partial travel ban over state roads by 7 a.m., coordinating with the state of New York, which also lifted travel bans on city and upstate county roads. Connecticut was set to lift a statewide travel ban at 2 p.m., but Gov. Dan Malloy encouraged people to still “limit travel and use common sense while driving.”

City streets remained deserted and eerily quiet early, after New York officials took the unusual step Monday of ordering all traffic cleared from city streets by 11 p.m. and suspending all metropolitan transit service.

TIME weather

Massive Snowstorm Buries New England

APTOPIX Winter Weather
Fishing boats ride out the storm at dock in Scituate, Mass., on Jan. 27, 2015. Michael Dwyer—AP

New England was braced for two or even three feet of snow

Up to four inches of snow an hour fell in parts of the Northeast early Tuesday as tens of millions of people hunkered down for a historic blizzard that shut down travel — but New York City and Philadelphia escaped the worst of the weather.

New England was braced for two or even three feet of snow, whipped by near-hurricane force winds that created almost whiteout conditions and threatened coastal flooding.

However, a blizzard warning was downgraded to a winter storm alert in all but one county of New York early Tuesday.

As winds combined with high tides, a storm surge. . .

Read the rest of our story from our partners at NBC News

TIME viral

Watch a Principal Announce a Snow Day With a ‘Let It Go’ Parody

Watch out, Idina Menzel

Schoolteachers must be sick of hearing “Let It Go” from Frozen by now, but there’s probably no better way to get kids’ attention than with the Disney tune. Just ask Matt Glendinning, the head of school at Moses Brown School in Providence, R.I., who announced his school’s snow day with his own “Let It Go” parody, “School Is Closed.”

Don’t be surprised if Glendinning has been waiting to break this out for some time — the production value here is suspiciously high for a blizzard that only just took the East Coast by storm. That, or Glendinning should become the faculty sponsor for the film club ASAP.

Read next: Blizzard Gives New York City a Miss, Hits New England

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

MONEY The Economy

Northeast Braces for ‘Historic’ Blizzard

New York City is preparing for a big winter storm that has already resulted in 4,000 flight cancellations.

TIME weather

East Coast Readies Itself for Up to 3 Feet of Snow

A massive blizzard, expected to be one of the largest ever experienced on the east coast, reached New York on Monday. States of emergency were declared in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York 

TIME weather

See Photos From a 1958 Storm that Dumped Six Feet of Snow on New York

This Nor'easter might be big, but LIFE has seen bigger

As the Northeast prepares for the impending Nor’easter as though snow were an altogether new phenomenon, it begins to feel as though many people have let Frozen go a little too much to their heads. The panic is not entirely unfounded—it never hurts to reinforce your rations of Swiss Miss and chicken soup—but this is certainly not Snowmageddon’s first rodeo.

The several feet of snow predicted to blanket the Northeast over the next few days pale in comparison to the 6½ feet that pummeled upstate New York in December 1958. That storm—meteorogically speaking a snowburst as opposed to a blizzard, as it was not accompanied by high winds—left the city of Oswego frozen in time for days. After four days of snowfall, LIFE reported:

Traffic, business and mail had come to a standstill. Police were running milk to snowbound families. In the big digout that followed, the price of snow shovels skyrocketed and the mayor took to dog sled and team to get around town.

The magazine dispatched photographer Carl Mydans to capture the scene. Mydans’ photos, several of which appear above, didn’t end up running. Instead, LIFE ran four pages of reader-submitted photos, describing Oswegians’ response to the storm as one that employed snapping shutters as much as scooping shovels. So avid were the citizens in their documentation that the film supply ran out. “Processing shops were swamped with exposed rolls,” LIFE reported, “as snow scenes began to appear cheek by jowl with last summer’s undeveloped beach pictures.”

The only difference between their response and ours, then, is a hashtag—#Snowmageddon2015 and #blizzardof2015, in case you’re keeping track.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME weather

7 Chilling Stories of Snow Storms Throughout American History

Jan. 31, 1977, cover
The Jan. 31, 1977, cover of TIME Cover Credit: ART SHAY

If you get snowed in, here's some reading material

It was Jan. 31, 1977, when this poor freezing man appeared on the cover of TIME. The story inside, which detailed the effects on the United States of what the publisher’s letter called “the bitterest cold spell in memory.”

The first-ever reported snow fall in West Palm Beat, Fla., had shocked residents. Buffalo had been buried under more than 120 in. of the white stuff that season. And, ironically, areas that needed snow — the ski resorts of Idaho, for example — had to rely on snow-making machines despite the cold temperatures. Record lows were reported in cities nationwide. The natural-gas industry went into crisis mode. Maryland declared a state of emergency as the state’s seafood industry was shut down by a frozen bay.

But, of course, 1977 wasn’t the only year that the U.S. suffered under snow — and, right now, the Northeast is bracing for what promises to be a major blizzard.

Here are the stories of seven other noteworthy storms from American history, as told by TIME:

From the Nov. 25, 1946, issue: Blizzard on the Prairie

When a major storm hit Colorado, ranchers found that feeding and protecting their herds was more difficult than ever:

The sun disappeared behind a grey overcast, and a great stillness fell over the eastern Colorado plains. After that a freezing wind rose, banged barn doors and snatched at the smoke from lonely ranch houses. It grew dark, and salt-like snow began hissing across leagues of sere buffalo grass. Then, for 48 hours, a blizzard—the worst in 33 years—moaned down out of Wyoming with nothing to stop it but fence posts and cottonwood trees.

As the prairies whitened, scores of thousands of chunky Hereford cattle turned tail to the storm, lowered their heads, and began to drift disconsolately before it. When they came to fences they turned, followed the wire. But some time during the second night, when the snow was belly deep on the flats and higher than a rider’s head in the drifts, they stopped. When the storm ceased and the cold intensified, herd after herd stood wearily with their breaths steaming, waiting patiently for death.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Jan. 5, 1948, issue: The Big Snow

Though New Yorkers “disregard nature until it makes more noise than the subway,” a storm at the turn of 1948 got their attention:

Suddenly the city began to realize what was happening. It was seeing its heaviest snowfall in Weather Bureau history (76 years). At midnight, 18 hours and 35 minutes after the storm began, the Weather Bureau announced that 25.8 inches had fallen. It was 4.9 inches above the record set in the legendary three-day blizzard of 1888.

By 5 o’clock, central Manhattan subway stations were jammed with pushing, gesticulating throngs. Shoe stores were invaded by snow-powdered hikers in search of rubbers and galoshes. Hotels were besieged; and a backwash of the stranded headed for bars, all-night movies and the apartments of friends. Meanwhile the Fire Department was struck by the horrible thought—it couldn’t move its trucks. Its engine-house gongs rang out the “five sixes” (all firemen report for duty). It got radio stations to ask the citizenry kindly not to let their houses burn down.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 17, 1961, issue: The Cause of the Snow

Blizzards in 1961 were, TIME reported, due to a vicious cycle of weather, in which storms kept the ground from warming, which allowed cold air to get up under warmer winds, causing further storms. The result was a string of bad weather nationwide:

Particularly in the East, the frozen, snow-strangled U.S. last week could only echo General George S. Patton’s exasperated wartime injunction to his chaplain: “Goddam it, get me some good weather!”

Not since Dec. 1 had the cities and farms east of the Mississippi seen even reasonable winter weather. Ferryboats froze in Lake Michigan. Georgia peach trees shivered in the coldest winter in 25 years. New York City, buried under 55.7 inches of snow that had fallen this season, also endured 16 days of continuously below-freezing temperatures. Last week, in a taxi driver’s dream of heaven, private cars were banned in Manhattan for five days to facilitate snow removal, which so far has cost the metropolis some $20 million.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 3, 1967, issue: The 24-Million-Ton Snow Job

When Chicago was hit with a record 23 inches of show in 1967, it shut down the city almost entirely:

Chicagoans knew that the balmy 65° weather could hardly last—it was, after all, the warmest Jan. 24 on record— but they little dreamed how startling the change would be. Within two days, the temperature plummeted to the 20s, snow came cascading down, and icy winds gusted through the streets. Though no stranger to wintry storms, Chicago found itself in the brief space of 24 hours paralyzed by the worst blizzard in its history—a raging storm that tore through large sections of the Midwest and caused at least 75 deaths.

The howling blast began Thursday morning. By midafternoon, Chicago’s streets were clogged by wind-whipped snowdrifts and stalled autos. With traffic at a standstill and visibility at zero, tens of thousands of marooned workers had to spend the night in firehouses, hospitals and hotels. On the Calumet Expressway, 1,000 stranded motorists joined hands so that they would not get lost, snaked their way to nearby homes. A 50-year-old woman suffered a fatal heart attack on a stalled bus at 5 a.m. Friday. Not until six hours later could snowbound police remove her body.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 6, 1978, issue: Now It’s The Midwest’s Turn

A blizzard in early 1978 struck the East first, before turning bringing the Midwest to a stand-still and costing the auto industry an estimated $130 million:

Enough already. First the winter of ‘78 clobbered the East with heavy snow (Boston, 21 in.; New York, 16 in.), the West with drenching rains and high winds, the South with frigid temperatures and a score of tornadoes. In Massachusetts, the state’s $9 million snow-removal budget is already exhausted. California drought officials traded in their sun visors for umbrellas and began dispensing flood-control information. Motorists in Georgia shuddered at the foreign squeal of back tires spinning on ice.

Last week it was the Midwest’s turn. Roaring through the upper Midwest, the Great Lakes and the Ohio River Valley, from the Appalachians to the Canadian border, a blizzard blasted 31 in. of snow across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. With winds clocked at up to 100 m.p.h. (hurricane force is 75 m.p.h.), the wind-chill factor hitting–50o and record-low barometric readings, the National Weather Service classified the big blow as an “extratropical cyclone.” That scarcely did justice to this great white whale of a storm. An NWS spokesman in Detroit called the blizzard “one of the worst, if not the worst,” In Michigan’s history. Kentucky Governor Julian Carroll said it was “the most devastating snow accumulation in 100 years.” Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes also deemed the storm the worst ever in his state–”a killer blizzard looking for victims.”

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 20, 1978, issue: Blizzard of the Century

The bad weather of 1978 continued as Providence received 26 inches of snow, coastal landmarks in Massachusetts were destroyed and temperatures even in the South plunged down to well below freezing:

Buffeted by winds of up to 110 m.p.h., a 42-ft. Coast Guard pilot boat, the Can Do, capsized and sank in Salem Harbor. The captain and the four-man crew were drowned. In nearby Nahant, Melvin Demit, 61, was lighting the furnace in his basement, when a wall of water crashed into his house and engulfed him. In Scituate, a raging sea swept five-year-old Amy Lanzikos to her death just as a rescue boat was bringing her to safety.

This was the scene along the Massachusetts coast last week, as a mammoth blizzard–the worst since 1888–slammed the Northeast, dropping from 1 to 4 ft. of snow in the latest blast from a winter of stormy discontent. Raging from Virginia to Maine, the hurricane-like storm killed at least 56 people, caused an estimated half billion dollars’ worth of damage and crippled Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for five days.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Jan. 22, 1996, issue: The Blizzard of ’96

A more recent blizzard drew complaints from some New Yorkers that there were “no trains, no cabs, no nothin’ — just snow”:

It was eraser on a near impossible scale. First the sky went blank, and then the ground. Then, in most places, your front steps disappeared, then your car; and finally, your schedule for the next 48 hours. How big was the snowstorm that hit the Eastern states early last week? So big that in each new place it bulldozed over, it toppled a different historical precedent. In New York City they compared it to the great storm of 1947. In Boston it was the blizzard of 1978. In Raleigh, North Carolina, the snow of 1989. That won’t happen next time. Whenever they do their recollecting, January 1996 will be the Last Big Storm for the entire East Coast.

It was a classic nor’easter that happened to stretch over 20 states and do tremendous damage. At least 100 lives were lost, many to heart attacks triggered by Sisyphean shoveling. Bill Clinton called the storm a “national disaster” and promised federal relief. In the New York region alone, an estimated $1 billion was lost to interrupted business and cleanup costs.Every region got more than it was prepared for. An inch of icy snow sufficed in Atlanta, where tractor-trailers skidded across highway lanes and the indoor Peachtree Center shopping area became deserted.

Twenty-four inches knocked out Washington; Philadelphia got a record 30.7, and New York City endured 20.6. Even jaded Boston, with 18.2 inches, postponed a Bruins hockey game (against the Colorado Avalanche).

Read the rest of the story here

TIME weather

Watch Live: New York City Mayor Speaks on Blizzard

Bill de Blasio addresses New Yorkers as state of emergency declared in New York State

MONEY Travel

5 Strategies for Dealing With Your Flight Cancellation

Travelers make their way through security lines at Denver International Airport, November 27, 2013.
RJ Sangosti—Denver Post via Getty Images

With storms threatening to put your travel plans on ice, don't head to the airport unprepared. Instead, go on the defensive with these moves.

With more than 5,000 flights already cancelled ahead of the big winter storm set to blanket the Northeast this week, travelers may want to prepare for a rough time at the airport.

Though cancellations have been light so far this month compared with January 2014, when 3.5 million people were grounded because of called-off flights, the worst may be yet to come, as the blizzard is expected to hit hard in major transportation hubs like New York City. American and United have both announced plans to suspend all flights on Tuesday in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. All major carriers have already announced that they will waive change fees for storm-canceled flights.

Airlines are relatively quick to cancel domestic flights, says Tulinda Larsen, president of airline operations analysis firm masFlight. According to a masFlight data, a domestic cancellation costs the airline an average of $6,000, versus as much as $40,000 for an international route.

Even once operations resume on Wednesday, travel headaches are likely to persist. Here are 5 tips to help get you to your destination as quickly as possible, sanity intact.

1. Check in early

If your flight has been rescheduled, don’t relax just yet: In bad weather, oversold flights can be more of a problem, as stranded passengers buy up any open seats.

Your best defense against getting bumped? Checking in online as close to 24 hours ahead of time as possible, according to TripAdvisor travel advocate Wendy Perrin. Not only will you be less likely to lose your seat, but you will also have the best shot at choosing a good one.

2. Stay informed in real-time

Those facing a called-off flight shouldn’t just let the airline automatically rebook. First, check out FlightStats.com, which shows delayed and canceled flights all across the country. There may be a different itinerary that’s a better fit for your schedule.

3. Know your options

Each airline has its own policies when it comes to weather-related cancellations and delays; there are no federal requirements. Still, in the event of a delay, some airlines will pay for meals or other amenities, so it’s worth asking (more on that below). If your flight is cancelled, the carrier may be willing to put you on a flight with a different airline, so check out those options too.

4. Photograph your valuables

Losing expensive belongings is always upsetting, but tack on a crazy snowstorm and chaotic airport and you have the formula for a nervous breakdown. Be prepared for the worst by keeping receipts for, and snapshots of, anything pricey in your luggage. Airlines are legally obligated to reimburse up to $3,300 for your lost possessions.

5. Turn on the charm

Whether you’re dealing with lost luggage, delays, a cancelled flight, or any other travel nightmare, it’s important to be as polite as possible when making a complaint. “Take a deep breath. Remember that despite everything that has happened, you are still alive and, in fact, breathing. Then come talk to me and explain your situation,” writes flight attendant Cary Trey at ThePointsGuy.com.

Going a step beyond politeness and being extra kind to the person you’re dealing with—who, let’s face it, has probably been having a pretty bad day, too—can’t hurt. Trey suggests carrying mini-boxes of chocolates to show gratitude to those who go the extra mile to help you out.

If that sounds like a bit much, even a simple, “Thank you so much for your help!” will be enough make you stand out from the grumbling masses.


TIME weather

10 Questions About the Blizzard

Jack Nicholson In 'The Shining'
Don't go there; it will all be over soon Warner Brothers/Getty Images

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.

Hint: All of them can be answered 'No'

1. Does this storm prove global warming is really just a hoax cooked up by degenerate scientists like my Twitter feed keeps saying? No. Again: no. Absolutely, positively no. This is weather, not climate. Just like a collie isn’t a species, a crouton isn’t a salad and the aglet on your shoelace ain’t the whole shoe, so too is a single meteorological event in your town (or state or region) not the same as climate. All the same, you’ll hear a lot of self-satisfied huffing from climate change deniers this week. Please feel free to laugh at them.

2. Then is the blizzard a result of climate change—the much discussed “global weirding”? If we’re going to smack down the anti-science kooks on question one, let’s resist the urge for a touchdown dance on question two. It’s true that climate change means a growing number of extreme weather events, and the spike in storms like 2012’s Sandy that do a billion dollars of damage or more do fit with climate change models. But again, any one storm is proof only of that storm. And hey, when you’re getting three feet of snow, that should be trouble enough.

3. Speaking of Sandy, do I have to call the blizzard Juno? No. Indeed, please don’t. Unlike hurricanes, which are named by the World Meteorological Organization as part of a longstanding global tradition, Juno was named by the Weather Channel, as part of a somewhat newer tradition of thinking up scary names that sound good on TV. You are free to give this blizzard any name you want. I’m calling it Larry.

4. What about “nor’easter?” Can I call the blizzard that? Are you a lobster fisherman? From Maine? If not, no.

5. Is “blizzard” just a synonym, for “lots o’ snow”? Nope, there’s actually a technical definition: There must be falling snow (or blowing snow already on the ground), with winds of at least 35 mph (56 k/h) reducing visibility to no more than 0.25 mile (0.4 km) for at least three hours.

6. Do I really need 12 tins of powdered milk, a case of canned tuna and five dozen double-A batteries to get through this? Yes, if it’s 1952 and you’re packing a fallout shelter. Otherwise, we’re talking a couple of snow days at the most—followed by the risk of way too many tuna casseroles for the rest of the year if you don’t get ahold of yourself.

7. Does it have to be so flipping cold for a blizzard to happen? This may not be much comfort to you, Concord, NH, where it’s 14°F (-10°C) in the run-up to the big blast, but no, as long as the atmospheric temperature is 32°F (0°C) or below, snow can form. It can even be a few degrees warmer on the ground, but the snow that falls will quickly become slush or, as it’s known on the sidewalks of New York City, goo.

8. I’ve heard this storm is a result of meteorological “bombogenesis.” Surely the people at weather service are smoking something? Alas no. Bombogenesis is a real word and it occurs when the barometric pressure in the most intense part of a storm drops more than 24 millibars in 24 hours. Lower pressure then causes cold air to rush toward the ground and warmer air to rise. This isn’t to say the weather service doesn’t have fun saying “bombogenesis” over and over and over again. They’re meteorologists, but hey, they’re people too.

9. Once the blizzard’s over, we’re cool, right? Nope. Arctic air is going to continue to barrel through the northeast into February, keeping temperatures well below normal. As for the upper Midwest, where it’s usually only slightly more comfortable than the planet Neptune (-378°F, with a likelihood of graphite hailstones) around this time of year: Nice and mild.

10. If I have kids, is there any chance at all that I won’t hear them singing the score from Frozen while we’re all trapped in the house together for the next 48 hours? No. None at all. Deal with it—and don’t watch The Shining. It will only give you ideas.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser