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Storm Disrupts Travel Across Northeast

February 13, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) _ Thousands of travelers were stranded after Sunday’s fierce snowstorm canceled flights, halted trains and kept road crews struggling to keep up with blowing snow in the Northeast.

The timing of the storm did help transportation workers who plowed streets in relatively light weekend traffic and expected to have roadways ready for Monday’s rush hour.

All three of the major New York-area airports were closed for much of the day, and airlines canceled more than 500 inbound and departing flights _ 200 each at LaGuardia and Newark airports and 120 at Kennedy. By Sunday evening, Newark and Kennedy reopened with limited service.

A Turkish Airways flight skidded off a runway at Kennedy as it landed at 9:20 p.m., but none of the 198 passengers were injured, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

New York’s subways and buses were running on close to normal schedules. Officials expected to have all roads cleared _ which costs the city about $1 million per inch _ by Monday morning.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell said state government would be closed Monday for Lincoln’s Birthday, allowing people to stay at home one more day.

``Lucky for us, it will keep some traffic off the highways,″ Rell said.

Massachusetts officials expected an uneventful start to the work week.

``I don’t think it’s going to be a matter of folks not being able to get down their street because of 2 feet of snow,″ said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. ``The roads will be clear. They will be treated. But you are probably going to get some slick spots from the freezing temperatures.″

Frustrated air travelers scrambled to find a way home Sunday.

``Our car’s in Newark. We can’t even get close to there. We can’t even get to Philadelphia or D.C.,″ said Maria Martinez, whose flight from Miami International Airport was canceled.

Port Authority spokesman Pasquale DiFulco said it was the first time Newark Liberty closed since Sept. 11, 2001.

The airport closures and grounded planes marooned travelers across the country. About 7,500 people were stranded just at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, spokesman Steve Belleme said.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood had about 46 canceled outbound flights, Belleme said, and about 40 flights from Orlando International Airport were canceled. More 80 flights had been canceled at Miami International.

``We’ve been playing cards for two hours. We expect to play a lot more cards,″ Cliff Jefferson said about nine hours into his stay at the Miami airport.

After their return flight to Massachusetts was canceled, he and a colleague planned to spend the night at the airport because there were no vacant hotel rooms in the area.

The snow also wreaked havoc on commuter rail service, leaving passengers snowbound in New York’s Penn Station after the Long Island Rail Road canceled trains.

``I knew it would be problematic to get home when we left this afternoon, but I didn’t imagine it would be this bad. Now I think I’ll be here all day,″ said William DiMaggio, 20, who was trying to get home to suburban Stony Brook after spending the weekend celebrating his mother’s birthday.

Hapless passengers also were trapped for more than five hours on one of eight Long Island Rail Road commuter trains that got stuck by the rapidly falling snow, said spokesman Mike Charles.

Amtrak reported a few cancelations and delays in the Northeast Corridor but said most trains remained in service.

New Jersey Transit suspended all bus service statewide, and officials lowered the speed limit on the busy New Jersey Turnpike to 35 mph.


Associated Press writers Randall Chase in Dover, Del.; Jessica Gresko in Miami; Wiley Hall in Columbia, Md.; Brandie M. Jefferson in Boston; Bruce Shipkowsi in Trenton, N.J.; and Matthew Verrinder in Newark, N.J., contributed to this report.

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