People in parts of the northeastern United States awakened on Jan. 29 to more than a foot of snow as a powerful winter storm brought howling winds and whiteout conditions, putting parts of 10 states under blizzard warnings and prompting forecasts of more severe weather ahead.
Winter storm Kenan blanketed parts of New Jersey and New York with over 15 inches of snowfall by 11 a.m. on Jan. 29, after the National Weather Service warned of blizzard conditions and snow rates of 2 to 4 inches per hour in parts of the Northeast. Forecasters had predicted that more than two feet of snow could fall in some areas, accompanied by wind gusts of 70 miles per hour.
“Expect whiteout conditions and nearly impossible travel at times,” the National Weather Service said in a warning.
Overall, parts of 10 states were under blizzard warnings as of the morning of Jan. 29: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who on Jan. 28 declared a state of emergency, told a news briefing the next day that the storm could be “life-threatening” and urged people to stay indoors.
“There could be a gust of wind that creates whiteout conditions while you’re out in the store running to get that last gallon of milk you wanted to get,” she said. “This is not a time to be out there shopping.
“It’s high winds, heavy snow blizzard conditions, all the elements of a classic nor’easter, and that’s what we’re dealing with right now.”
The refrain from Hochul and other state leaders was to avoid unnecessary travel.
“This is serious. We’re ready for this storm, and we also need Rhode Islanders to be ready,” Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee said on Jan. 28. “The best way to handle this storm is to stay home tomorrow.”
A travel ban was imposed on all Rhode Island roads on Jan. 29, lasting until 11:59 p.m. for tractor-trailers and motorcycles, and until 8 p.m. for all other vehicles.
“Due to dangerous conditions, the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge, the Mount Hope Bridge, the Newport Pell Bridge, and the Sakonnet River Bridge are closed until further notice. Emergency vehicles will still have access,” McKee said in a Jan. 29 tweet. “Stay home, stay warm and stay safe.”
“The key message for all Virginians is to stay aware of the weather conditions and to stay off the roads if possible,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a statement. “The most important thing everyone can do to minimize the risks is to prepare yourself and your family.”
Airlines canceled over 1,400 flights at some of the nation’s busiest airports on Jan. 28, with the number of cancellations growing to over 3,500 the next day, according to FlightAware.
Amtrak announced modified service due to the storm, suspending or limiting service on the Boston-to-Washington corridor.
The worst of the storm was expected to blow into Canada on Jan. 30, with several provinces placed under warnings.