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Video by FRANCE 24


Latest update : 2010-02-26

A powerful winter storm slammed New York City and much of the north-east on Friday, forcing businesses and schools to shut and bringing traffic to a standstill.

AFP - A major snowstorm blanketed much of the densely populated northeastern United States on Friday, forcing the closure of New York schools, power failures and transport delays.

Up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of snow were forecast to fall on New York by Saturday and snowplows worked through the night to keep major avenues clear.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered a rare closure of all public schools, handing 1.1 million students an unexpected long weekend. Columbia and other city universities also closed for the day.

Airlines posted major delays and cancelled hundreds of flights at Newark airport in New Jersey and JFK airport in New York.

The National Weather Service said an "intense area of low pressure will stay nearly stationary over southern New England and southeastern New York state through early Saturday morning before beginning to weaken." described the weather as "an extremely powerful storm" leading to "whiteouts along the I-95 (highway) stretch from Philadelphia to New York City.

"Downed trees and power outages will also continue to plague a large part of the Northeast. The storm will slowly weaken today into the weekend, allowing winds to slowly slacken a bit," the specialist website said.

Regional power company Con Edison said crews were working to cope with power lines knocked down by falling trees.

About 28,000 people in suburban Westchester County were without electricity and 2,300 in New York City, according to Con Edison.

"Crews are evaluating damage, but as the snow storm continues, additional outages may occur," it said.

Nearly 17 inches had already accumulated on Central Park in Manhattan by early morning, local NY1 television reported.

The snow was wet and heavy and local authorities urged residents to stay out of parks and away from trees.

On Thursday, a man died in Central Park when a branch collapsed under the weight of snow and fell on him as he strolled along a picturesque path known as Literary Walk.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the victim had just left work and wanted to "enjoy the thrill of a winter walk" when the tragedy occurred.

"We're really advising everyone to be very, very careful when they are outside in these conditions."

The storm was expected to lose its sting later Friday as snowfalls weakened. Only light flurries were forecast overnight and into Saturday.

Bloomberg said an army of sanitation workers was fighting to clear the city.

Almost 4,400 workers split in two 12-hour shifts were using 365 salt spreaders and 1,600 plows, he said.

"We're going to have a long weekend of clearing snow in various parts of the city and hopefully Monday morning the city will be back to normal," Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said.

Date created : 2010-02-26