WINTER STORM: Boston mayor says too many cars still on roads

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — 4 p.m.

Boston's mayor is pleading with drivers to stay off the roads as parts of the city are seeing flooding in unexpected places.

Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh said Thursday that too many cars are still out on the roads and getting caught up in the rising flood waters and requiring rescues. He says the city's public school will remain closed Friday.

Icy waters from Boston Harbor poured into streets during the afternoon high tide in the city's Seaport District and parts of downtown popular with tourists.

Elsewhere in coastal Massachusetts, the state National Guard helped rescue a woman and her two children from a car in flood waters in Marshfield.

In Newburyport, police said there were evacuations on Plum Island because of flooding and the only road from the mainland was closed.

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3:30 p.m.

Bostonians are out braving near whiteout conditions as a vicious winter storm pummels the East Coast with heavy snows, hurricane force wind gusts and coastal flooding.

Qizuyu Fan, who hails from a Chinese city near the border with Russia, said Thursday afternoon he wasn't fazed by the tough weather. He says it's nothing compared to what he's had to deal with at home, where temperatures are often well below zero in the winter.

The 21-year-old Boston Children's Hospital research student was out getting groceries but planned to spend a good part of the day playing in the snow.

Across town, Marcus Slaga was hunkered down at a hotel bar in Boston's Seaport District enjoying his third Guinness. The 44-year-old sushi chef's morning flight to Austin, Texas, was cancelled in the whiteout conditions.

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3 p.m.

Authorities say a person is dead after the car they were traveling in couldn't stop at the bottom of a steep, snow-covered hill and slammed into a commuter train on its way to Philadelphia.

Police say the driver of the car was able to escape before the crash Thursday morning in Lower Moreland but the passenger stayed inside as the vehicle crashed through a gate at the railroad crossing. That person was later found by police along the tracks.

A spokeswoman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority says none of the passengers on board the West Trenton line train were injured. The train was about 20 miles north of downtown Philadelphia.

It happened as a winter storm was blowing snow, icing up roads and causing traffic havoc around the region.

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2:50 p.m.

Bostonians are out braving near whiteout conditions as a vicious winter storm pummels the East Coast with heavy snows, hurricane force wind gusts and coastal flooding.

Qizuyu Fan, who hails from a Chinese city near the border with Russia, said Thursday afternoon he wasn't fazed by the tough weather. It's nothing compared to what he's had to deal with at home, where temperatures are often well below zero in the winter, he said.

"This is like October in my hometown," Fan said. "It's great because the snow is very heavy but the temperature is not very low."

The 21-year-old Boston Children's Hospital research student was out getting groceries but planned to spend a good part of the day playing in the snow.

Across town, Marcus Slaga was hunkered down at a hotel bar in Boston's Seaport District enjoying his third Guinness. The 44-year-old sushi chef's morning flight to Austin, Texas was cancelled in the whiteout conditions.

"I was hoping to wear shorts by this weekend," Slaga said with a laugh. "Now I'm stuck here for a couple of more days."

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2:20 p.m.

A vicious winter storm hitting the East Coast is now bringing hurricane force wind gusts and coastal flooding to Massachusetts.

The National Weather Service says it received reports of a wind gust of 76 mph on Nantucket, Massachusetts, on Thursday and a gust of 75 mph in Wellfleet, on Cape Cod. Winds of 74 mph or higher are considered hurricane force.

Block Island, Rhode Island experience a 61 mph wind gust.

Coastal flooding in Massachusetts, including in Boston, Lynn and Cape Cod, has made roads impassable.

One observer said water had cut through a barrier island in Chatham, flooded up to a condominium complex's doors and caused several cars to float.

Boston firefighters rescued a man who had become trapped in his car in a flooded intersection.

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2 p.m.

The agency that runs New York City-area airports says all flights have been suspended temporarily at JFK and LaGuardia airports due to wind and whiteout conditions.

At Newark Liberty airport in New Jersey, airlines had cancelled 867 flights as of noon Thursday, 73 percent of normal flight activity.

Two-thirds of all flights at Port Authority of New York and New Jersey airports are canceled.

Passengers are being urged to call their carrier before going to the airports Thursday or later this week and also should not go to the airports unless they have a reservation.

The snowstorm hitting the Northeast is expected to drop 6 to 10 inches of snow in the New York City area.

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1:25 p.m.

The South is continuing to deal with frigid temperatures as a brutal winter storm batters the Northeast.

In South Florida, it's so cold iguanas are falling from trees.

The National Weather Service in Miami said temperatures dipped below 40 degrees early Thursday. That's chilly enough to immobilize green iguanas common in Miami's suburbs.

In Mississippi, frigid weather is causing water pipes to burst underground in Jackson, the state's largest city. The city has been put under a precautionary boil-water notice and portable toilets were placed outside the state Capitol because some of the toilets won't flush inside.

In South Carolina, parts of Interstate 95 remain closed because of icy patches.

And in Tennessee, officials say the heat is mostly back on at the prison that houses the state's male death row offenders. The facility's heating system failed on Monday.

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12:35 p.m.

A mail carrier who works in Providence, Rhode Island, is taking the postal service's unofficial creed to heart.

Joseph Rodriquez says snow was slowing down carriers Thursday although he was having a "pretty easy day" as he made his rounds during a storm that could drop 18 inches of snow on the state.

He says it's important to get the mail out, even in blizzard conditions, because he delivers medication and checks.

Rodriquez says the post office had prepared for the weather by making sure carriers didn't have to carry anything extra and by having them start early.

The postal service's unofficial motto is "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed round," but it has been known to cancel service during severe weather.

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11:40 a.m.

North Carolina authorities say a driver slid off a road in snowy conditions and overturned his vehicle, marking the state's third fatality attributed to a snowstorm sweeping the region.

State Emergency Management spokesman Keith Acree says the man died in Beaufort County around 2 a.m. Thursday.

The man's vehicle slid off the road into a ditch and overturned. Acree says the area had a lot of snow, and authorities determined it was a weather-related death.

Acree identified the man as 29-year-old Joshua Wayne Biddle of Washington, North Carolina.

The Highway Patrol had earlier reported that two men died in a weather-related crash in Moore County on Wednesday night.

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11:30 a.m.

The Boston Bruins home game against the Florida Panthers has been postponed because of the snowstorm battering New England.

The Boston area could get as much as 18 inches of snow as well as high winds that could lead to power outages from the Thursday storm.

The National Hockey League hasn't announced the date and time of the rescheduled game. Tickets for Thursday's game will be valid for the makeup game.

The Bruins are in second place in the Atlantic Division after going 16-3-2 in their last 21 games. The Panthers had won five consecutive games before losing Tuesday in Minnesota.

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11:15 a.m.

The snowstorm sweeping up the East Coast is ruining travel plans for many, with thousands of U.S. flights canceled.

Airports in the New York City area and Boston have been particularly hard hit, with more than two-thirds of flights in and out canceled.

The airline-tracking site FlightAware is reporting more than 3,200 canceled flights within, into, or out of the United States on Thursday.

The massive winter storm is sweeping from the Carolinas to Maine, dumping snow along the coast and bringing strong winds.

Linda Heuman and Amy Remensnyder were supposed to fly to Berlin on Thursday, but the flight was canceled. That left them stuck in their home in Providence, Rhode Island. Their plans for the rest of the day were simple: They were going to make some soup and maybe watch a movie.

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10:30 a.m.

The governor of Massachusetts is warning of possible prolonged power outages resulting from the strong snowstorm that is pummeling the East Coast, to be followed by more severe cold.

Gov. Charlie Baker said during a morning briefing Thursday that emergency officials are prepared to open shelters in southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod, where heavy wet snow and howling wind gusts of 60 mph or higher pose the greatest threat of outages.

The strong winds could also make it difficult, if not impossible, for utility crews to use bucket trucks to quickly restore downed power lines.

In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says more than 100 warming centers are open in 34 towns. Malloy says the state has 634 state plow trucks and 250 contractors working to clear the highways.

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9:55 a.m.

Two deaths in North Carolina are being blamed on the East Coast snowstorm.

Authorities say two men died during the winter storm Wednesday night when their pickup truck overturned into a creek.

A spokesman for the state Highway Patrol says the truck came to rest on its top while submerged in the creek in Moore County, which is southwest of the Raleigh-Durham area.

Sgt. Michael Baker identified those killed as the driver, 57-year-old Michael Alexander Wilson, and a passenger, 73-year-old Jerry David Wilson. Both were from Bear Creek.

Both men died at the scene.

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8:05 a.m.

Snow that could pile as high as 18 inches (46 centimeters) in some spots of New England has begun falling.

A light snow started falling in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire just before dawn Thursday.

Snow is expected to increase after sunrise and peak during the late morning through the afternoon. Rain over Cape Cod and the Islands is likely to change over to snow in the afternoon.

The storm is not just bringing snow but high winds with gusts as high as 75 mph in some spots, which could bring down power lines and cause power outages.

There also is a risk of coastal flooding.

Schools across the region are closed for the day, and governors are urging people to stay off the roads.

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7:20 a.m.

A state of emergency is in effect on parts of Maryland's Eastern Shore in response to a coastal winter storm.

Gov. Larry Hogan issued the declaration late Wednesday for the Lower Shore, including Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties.

Ankle deep snow and wind gusts approaching 50 mph (80 kph) covered the Ocean City Boardwalk, which was under a blizzard warning Thursday.

Parts of Southern Maryland also reported significant snow accumulations.

Wind restrictions were put in place Thursday on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The Coast Guard restricted ships from entering the Port of Baltimore.

Numerous school systems closed throughout the state, including in Baltimore City, where the teachers' union called for closures after reporting heating issues in numerous schools.

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6:50 a.m.

The Hampton Roads region of Virginia is bearing the worst of a winter storm that prompted Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency.

Dominion Energy reported more than 35,000 customers in southeastern Virginia without power Thursday morning. The Northern Neck region had 635 outages, with no other significant outages in the rest of the state.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel was closed to all traffic early Thursday morning because of the weather conditions which included snow and heavy winds.

Virginia State Police reported that from 8 p.m. Wednesday through 5 a.m. Thursday, it received 212 emergency calls for service in its Chesapeake region, which includes Hampton Roads, including 101 crashes. The Richmond region reported 123 calls for service and 72 crashes.

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6:30 a.m.

State offices are closed throughout Delaware as snowfall accumulates quickly from a coastal winter storm.

The Delaware Department of Transportation reports that accumulations have exceeded six inches (15 centimeters) by early Thursday in parts of Sussex County, Delaware's southernmost county.

State offices were closed Thursday in all three Delaware counties, including the state's Department of Motor Vehicles locations.

DART bus service was suspended in Sussex County.

The Delaware River and Bay Authority suspended operations for its ferry connecting Lewes, Delaware, to Cape May, New Jersey. The authority citing significant ice accumulation in canals along the Delaware Bay, as well as forecasts for heavy winds.

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6:24 a.m.

Snow and bitter cold are sweeping across parts of Pennsylvania, causing some schools to close or delay opening.

A winter storm warning is in effect until 7 p.m. Thursday for Delaware, Philadelphia, eastern Montgomery and lower Bucks counties.

Forecasters say accumulations of 4 to 7 inches (10 to 17 centimeters) are expected. That will be following by biting cold temperatures. The central part of the state is waking to another coating of snow.

The Philadelphia school district and the city's archdiocesan schools are closed.

Amtrak says Keystone Service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia is operating as scheduled.

The region's transportation system says it's operating on a regular weekday schedule. All bus routes with the exception of Route 35 are running.

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6 a.m.

A massive winter storm swept from the Carolinas to Maine on Thursday, dumping snow along the coast and bringing strong winds that will usher in possible record-breaking cold.

Up to 18 inches of snow was expected in eastern New England. Blizzard warnings and states of emergency were in effect, schools and government offices closed for the day and motorists were warned to be careful as conditions worsened.

People who take to the roads are in for an "ugly, long commute" New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Ankle deep snow and wind gusts approaching 50 mph (80 kph) covered Maryland's Ocean City Boardwalk, which was under a blizzard warning Thursday.

Eastern Massachusetts and most of Rhode Island were bracing for as much as 18 inches of snow, with snow falling at a rate of 3 inches per hour possible.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said more than 100 warming centers have been opened in 34 towns across the state. Connecticut has 634 state plow trucks and 250 contractors working to clear the highways.

The massive storm began two days ago in the Gulf of Mexico, first hitting the Florida Panhandle. It has prompted thousands of canceled flights, shuttered schools and businesses and sparked fears of coastal flooding and power outages.

Wind gusts of 50 mph to 60 mph, strong enough to cause downed trees and power lines, are predicted in places where the National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings. They include the Delmarva Peninsula, which includes parts of Delaware, Virginia and Maryland; coastal New Jersey; eastern Long Island, New York; and coastal eastern New England.

The snowstorm shut down much of eastern Virginia, but some people were taking it in stride.

Mark Schoenenberger, 45, a NASA engineer who lives in Norfolk, Virginia, put on his cross country skis so he could make a half hour trip to the bagel shop for some breakfast for his family.

"It's like 'Yay, I get to go out," he said.

The only concern he seemed to have was telecommuting while his kids were home from school. But "it's just noise," he said.

The storm will then be followed by a wave of bracing cold.

"We think there are going to be scattered records broken for low temperatures," said Peterson, adding how the weather service expects 28 major cities across New England, eastern New York and the mid-Atlantic states will have record low temperatures by dawn on Sunday.

State and local officials urged residents to prepare for possible power losses and stay home so crews can clear streets and roads of what could be as much as foot or more of snow in some places. There were concerns in Boston and elsewhere that if roads aren't properly cleared, they could freeze into cement-like icy messes by Friday, given the expected low temperatures. In other areas, plummeting temperatures already have caused water mains to burst.

The storm has resulted in thousands of canceled flights at major airports such as Boston's Logan International Airport and New York's LaGuardia Airport and disrupted the schedules at regional airports.

Amtrak planned to operate a modified schedule between New York and Boston on Thursday. Northeast Regional Service between Washington, D.C., and Newport News/Norfolk, Virginia, was canceled for Thursday.

The coastal Southeast got a rare blast of snow and ice on Wednesday. Schools were shut down just months after hurricane threats. In Charleston, South Carolina, the weather service reported 5 inches of snow, enough for Chris Monoc's sons, ages 4 and 2, to go sledding outside their home.

"They probably will be teenagers the next time something like this happens, and that's kind of sad," Monoc said. "But we'll enjoy it while it's here."

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Associated Press Writer Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, contributed to this report.