NEW YORK -- New Yorkers wearing green boas and shamrock stickers trudged through a snowy Fifth Avenue yesterday for the nation's oldest and largest St. Patrick's Day parade, a day after a major storm buffeted the East Coast and caused the cancellation of more than 1,400 flights.
Storm dumps 8.1 inches
of snow on Boston. B4
The late winter storm dumped as much as 2 feet of snow, as well as sleet and freezing rain on the Northeast, but the precipitation tailed off yesterday as the weather system moved northward.
At John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, hundreds of passengers were stranded for hours overnight because of the storm. The number of planes affected was unclear, but passengers were told the delays were linked to shortages of deicing fluid.
The weather was blamed for at least six traffic deaths in New Jersey, three in Pennsylvania, and one in Maryland, authorities said.
"We got the whole gamut there," Nelson Vaz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said early yesterday. He called it "a pretty impressive late-winter storm."
Up to 2 feet of snow fell in the northern Catskills and a foot or more fell in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Six inches of snow was reported in New York City.
A record 2.13 inches of rain fell at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. A winter storm warning remained in effect yesterday as the changeover to rain fueled concerns about possible river and coastal flooding, particularly around high tide.
Officials in Hartford and York, Pa., postponed their annual St. Patrick's Day parades yesterday.
New York did not cancel its event, and hundreds of thousands of people attended. It was the 246th incarnation of the New York parade, which typically draws 2 million spectators and 150,000 marchers.
The traditional green stripe was painted down the avenue by city workers last week, but it was scrubbed away by the salt and sand used to clear the roadway.
People walked the sidewalks in kilts or with dyed -green hair and eyebrows. A man wore green sneakers. An older woman wore a green cowboy hat and green disco-ball earrings. Even a police dog patrolling near St. Patrick's Cathedral wore a green bandanna.
Una Murray and her husband, Gerry Hampson, both 42, flew in from Dublin to join the celebration. "We came to party," said Murray, who also came dressed to impress.
She carried green, white, and orange balloons and wore a novelty pair of chaps with an Irish theme.
Hundreds of traffic accidents were blamed on the icy roads Friday, including one involving a vehicle in President Bush's motorcade traveling from Washington to Camp David. No one was injured.
JetBlue canceled nearly three-fourths of its flights on Friday to avoid the chaos that followed the Valentine's Day storm, when the company was slow to cancel flights and some passengers were stranded in planes for hours.
The airline also called off about 30 flights early yesterday, spokeswoman Jenny Dervin said. But she said JetBlue was expecting few, if any, cancellations later in the day.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said more than 1,400 flights were canceled Friday at the region's three major airports because of the storm. Delays also were reported at airports in Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore-Washington.
At JFK Airport, Rahul Chandran said he was trapped aboard a
Throughout the night, the pilot repeatedly described problems with deicing equipment, including a lack of fluid that kept the plane waiting endlessly to have its wings sprayed.
When the airline decided to return the plane to its terminal, it took at least another hour to arrange a gate, he said.
"You can't keep your passengers on the plane for 9 1/2 hours," said Chandran, 30, of New York City. "They kept saying 'half an hour more, 45 minutes more.' But by the time it got to hour six, we were pretty much accepting that we weren't going to go. . . . At least in the terminal, you can get up and walk around."
In New Hampshire, three presidential hopefuls canceled appearances Friday because of the weather -- Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona; Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois; and Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut. McCain, Dodd, and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, were campaigning in the state yesterday.
Winter officially ends at the vernal equinox Tuesday evening, but climatologists said it is not unusual for storms to arrive well into March.
"Usually you have the biggest storms in March," said Kevin Lipton, a meteorologist in Albany, N.Y.
Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that this winter was the warmest worldwide since record keeping began in 1880.
Globally, the 10 warmest winters have occurred in the past 12 years, according to the NOAA report. The 2006 winter ranked ninth. The second-warmest was in 2004, followed by 1998, 2002, and 1999.
Last year's ocean-surface temperature tied for second-warmest in 128 years of observation.