Coming toward the end of a relentless winter, Winter Storm Vulcan broke records and created a travel nightmare for the Midwest and Northeast. On Thursday, the system took one final shot at New England before moving away from the United States.
Thousands of flights were canceled Wednesday and at least one pileup in Ohio turned deadly as the hazardous road conditions led to semis and other vehicles spinning out of control.
In western New York, the National Weather Service confirmed blizzard conditions at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, marking the first time in 130 years of record-keeping that there have been two blizzards in one season.
Here's a look at the latest news from Vulcan for each state affected by the storm.
Vulcan dumped about half a foot of snow in the Chicago area, causing power outages and headaches for commuters. The National Weather Service says six inches of snow was recorded at Midway International Airport Wednesday, while 3.6 fell at O'Hare International Airport. That made it the city's third-snowiest season. What started as heavy, wet snow late Tuesday became dry powder as the storm system moved out of the area. But blowing and drifting snow was reported as winds gusted to 35 mph. Utility companies were working to restore power.
WMAQ-TV reports the frozen river and thick ice on Lake Michigan means boats operated by Wendella Cruises can't make the trip from their winter home on the Calumet River. Company president Michael Borgstrom said ice surrounding the boats is 20 inches thick. The company operates the water taxis that travels from a downtown train station to Michigan Avenue's shopping district, Chinatown and the north side. It also operates tour boats. The season had been set to start Friday, but has been delayed until April 4.
Major utility companies say crews have restored nearly all the power outages caused by the heavy snowfall in northern Indiana. At least 40,000 homes and businesses were without electricity for a time Wednesday across the state's northern tier from the Gary area across to Fort Wayne. Indiana Michigan Power and Northern Indiana Public Service Co. reported no significant outages in that area early Thursday. The National Weather Service reports 6 to 8 inches of snow fell in many spots throughout northern Indiana on Wednesday. Several counties are continuing to ask people to avoid nonessential travel while roads are being cleared.
Winter Storm Vulcan dumped up to 20 inches of snow in western Maine and left thousands of homes and businesses in the dark. The National Weather Service said gusts of 40 mph or greater knocked out power for thousands. But utility crews were making progress. Emera Maine reported about 800 power outages and Central Maine Power had about 900 outages Thursday afternoon. Meteorologists in Gary and Caribou reported 20 inches in Dixfield in western Maine, and Sherman and Lincoln in northern Maine. Only a couple of inches fell on southern Maine. The storm prompted Gov. Paul LePage to order all state offices to open two hours later than normal, except in Aroostook County, where state offices will remain closed all day.
16-20" and it's still snow. Pa-pow! #happyplacefound— Sunday River (@sundayriver) March 13, 2014
Another round of record-breaking cold temperatures is following a storm that dumped more than 9 inches of snow on parts of southern Michigan. The temperature at Detroit Metropolitan Airport dropped to 3 degrees Thursday morning, breaking the March 13 record low of 5 for Detroit set in 1896. Readings of zero to 25 degrees were reported around the state.
The Grand Rapids Press reports that Grand Rapids also broke its daily record low at 3 degrees, falling below the record set in 1926 at 5 degrees. Warmer weather is expected Friday, with Detroit temperatures in the 40s. The snowstorm passed out of Michigan by Wednesday evening after dumping snow in wide areas. The weather service reported 9.3 inches of accumulation in Holly, northwest of Detroit, and 9 inches in Kalamazoo.
Craig Moilanen was ambivalent about the latest onslaught. The carpenter from the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills said the winter hasn't "bothered him that much" so far, but that he cannot take much more. Moilanen said he often works outside and needs to push the snow aside and lay tarps over work in progress. He also has a long driveway and "not the best snow blower in the world," so he's had a lot of early-morning struggles to clear Mother Nature's seasonal deliveries.
"That's been getting old," he said.
A number of schools have closed for the day or delayed opening in New Hampshire following the latest winter storm. The southern half of the state received little to no snow, but a wintry mix of freezing rain and sleet. More than a foot of snow fell in some areas of northern New Hampshire. Orford in Grafton County reported 14.4 inches. In Coos County, Pittsburg reported 14 inches and Littleton and Berlin reported 13 inches. The storm was expected to move out Thursday afternoon after another couple inches of snowfall. Winds blowing at 15 to 25 mph with gusts to up to 35 mph were staying put for the day, with plummeting temperatures. Highs were expected in the teens and 20s.
Bitter cold has returned to upstate New York on the heels of the blizzard that dumped nearly 1½ feet of snow on western areas. The National Weather Service says high winds and temperatures in the teens and single digits will drive the wind chill well below zero Thursday, a day after a blizzard closed schools and highways in most of the western half of the upstate region.
The weather service says the storm dumped up to 18 inches of snow on parts of western New York. Blowing snow caused numerous accidents on the Thruway, with sections of the highway between Syracuse and Buffalo closed for several hours. The ban on tandem trucks between the Albany area and the Pennsylvania border in western New York has been lifted.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for much of upstate, authorizing the use of state equipment where needed.
The severe side of Winter Storm Vulcan brought heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms as it moved through the Triangle. A Chapel Hill man was killed Wednesday after a tree crashed down on him as he was standing on his deck, WRAL reported. Later that evening, a second man was killed after a tree fell on his car in Winston-Salem, according to the News-Record. A passenger in the car suffered serious injuries and is being treated at a local hospital.
A storm that swept through the Midwest and the Northeast just a week before the start of spring caused pileups on the Ohio Turnpike involving at least 50 vehicles, leaving three people dead and a state trooper seriously injured. Snowy conditions along the busy toll road Wednesday had emergency workers struggling to reach accidents stretched across a 2-mile section in the eastbound lanes between Toledo and Cleveland. Another series of pileups about 10 miles to the east shut down the turnpike's westbound lanes near Sandusky. Between 6 to 8 inches of snow fell on Cleveland and northeast Ohio. Mike Ramella, a salesman from the Cleveland suburb of Westlake, was among the drivers mired in a 7-mile backup.
"I'm surrounded," by snow and cars, he told his wife on the phone. He said he was trying to get home to her and their three children, including a newborn, after a business trip to Michigan but was unable to make it to the next exit.
A trooper responding to an accident was pinned between vehicles, said the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which confirmed the deaths of the three other people but didn't immediately have further details. Highway Patrolman Andrew Clouser, 29, was in serious but stable condition at a Toledo hospital Wednesday night, said Ohio patrol Staff Lt. Anne Ralston.
Heavy snow and stiff winds contributed to tough driving conditions throughout the day across northern Ohio. Another afternoon crash on the turnpike involving an overturned truck blocked the road's westbound lanes in Lorain County, Greenslade said. About a dozen counties across the top edge of the state from the Indiana state line to Sandusky told residents not to drive at times during the day.
Snow totals in western Pennsylvania reached as high as eight inches from Winter Storm Vulcan before the storm moved away Wednesday. Meanwhile, strong wind gusts were reported in eastern parts of the state late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. A 56-mph wind gust was recorded early Thursday morning in Larchmont, and some trees were downed by the strong winds. Parts of Interstates 90 and 79 southwest of Erie were reporting rough travel, but most areas of the Keystone State were spared by the worst of Vulcan.
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Snow continued to fall across Vermont Thursday morning as Vulcan lingered in New England. According to local storm reports, Sharon has received at least 26 inches of snow from this storm, and gusty will lead to drifting snow. Several other areas are reporting at least 20 inches of snow from Vulcan. Despite those amounts, there have not been many power outages. Dorothy Schnure of Green Mountain Power said only about 340 customers remained without power as of Wednesday night. Power was restored to about 2,600 customers. Many schools were closed. After all flights at Burlington International Airport were canceled Wednesday, officials say the airport remains open and flights are expected to resume Thursday morning between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report
Bob Landon blows snow from a sidewalk in the South End neighborhood on Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. Bitter cold temperatures return after a winter storm dumped up to six inches of snow and ice on the Capital Region. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)