CONCORD, N.H. — The start of a winter storm with heavy, wet snow caused a plane to slide off a taxiway and led to hundreds of school closings, canceled flights and thousands of power outages in parts of the Northeast on Tuesday.
The storm’s path included parts of New England, upstate New York, northeastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey. Snow totals by the time it winds up Wednesday were expected to range from a few inches to a few feet, depending on the area.
“This is shaping up to be a unique winter storm for our small state in that there will be big differences in snowfall amounts depending on where you are located,” said Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, who ordered all executive branch state office buildings closed. “Some towns may receive a significant snowfall total, while others may receive a fraction of that amount or maybe even just rain.”
The storm in the Northeast came as California faced warnings of more flooding, potentially damaging winds and difficult travel conditions on mountain highways as a new atmospheric river pushed into the swamped state early Tuesday. So far this winter, California has been battered by 10 previous atmospheric rivers, long plumes of moisture from the Pacific Ocean, as well as powerful storms fueled by arctic air that produced blizzard conditions.
A Delta Air Lines plane veered off a paved surface as it taxied for takeoff from a Syracuse, New York, airport Tuesday morning. Flight 1718, which was bound for New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, slid into a grassy area north of the runway, forcing passengers off the plane and onto buses back to the terminal, according to airport officials. No one was injured and the airport remained open.
“During a departure taxi-out this morning, the nose gear of a Delta aircraft exited the paved surface of a taxiway,” Delta said in a statement. “This was not an airplane skidding off a runway.”
Delta said the plane carried 58 customers and a flight crew of five.
More than 400 flights traveling to, from or within the U.S. were canceled Tuesday, with Boston and New York City area airports seeing the highest number of scrubbed flights, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.
The National Weather Service said that in New York 2 inches (5 centimeters) of snow per hour or more was falling in higher elevations, in the eastern Catskills through the mid-Hudson Valley, central Taconics and Berkshires.
Wet, heavy snow snapped tree branches and downed power lines across New York’s capital region with power outages hitting homes and businesses in the Albany area. Snow was falling especially heavy in New York’s Catskills, where about 20 inch (50 centimeters) have piled up in some areas — and more to come, according to the National Weather Service in Albany.
Dustin Reidy, a county legislator who lives in Albany, said he stocked up on groceries and prepared an emergency bin of candles, flashlights, and extra batteries ahead of the storm.
“I don’t think the storm is as bad in my neck of the woods, but I give a lot of credit to the snow plows,” said Reidy, who was working from home. He said snow plows crews were outside since the early morning to ensure roads were clear.
The snowfall totals will be among the highest of the season, said meteorologist Andrew Orrison of the weather service office in College Park, Maryland.
“It has been below average for snowfall across the Northeast this year, and so this nor’easter will be very impactful,” he said.
While higher elevations get snow, authorities warned residents in coastal areas to watch for possible flooding because of heavy rains. The National Weather Service in New York said wind gusts could reach 50 mph (80 kph) across Long Island and lower Connecticut.
Rain was turning into snow across parts of New England with winds picking up and power outages reported across the region. In New Hampshire, it was Election Day for town officeholders, but more than 70 communities postponed voting because of the storm.
One community that did not postpone voting was Londonderry, a town of about 24,000 people in the southern part of the state, where steady snow was falling. The polls had opened at 6 a.m. and were scheduled to close at 8 p.m.
Many voters opted to turn in an absentee ballot Monday, in advance of the storm, town moderator Jonathan Kipp said. Some diehard residents braved the elements.
“Some are like, ‘Hey, this is New England, you know, what do you expect?’ And others are not happy with the decision, but they still came out,” he said.
Authorities urged people to stay off the roads.
New Hampshire State Police said they dealt with more 120 crashes by noon Tuesday. Also, Interstate 93, the state’s main north-south route, was shut down in Londonderry in both directions around 12:30 p.m. after electrical wires came down across the highway.
In Connecticut, state government offices and courts were closed Tuesday. State offices were also closed in New York, which also cancelled legislative sessions because of the storm.
The weather service said expected snow totals from the storm, which is forecast to wind up Wednesday, range from a foot to 18 inches (30 to 46 centimeters) in higher elevations in Massachusetts, to 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) in Boston. Higher elevations in southwest New Hampshire could get up to 2 feet (60 centimeters) of snow, and Augusta, Maine, could see 8 inches to a foot (20 to 30 centimeters).