A powerful winter storm pummeled much of the Northeastern United States on Monday, canceling flights, shutting down parts of the nation’s largest subway and disrupting travel for millions of people along the I-95 corridor.
By Monday night at least one person had died because of the storm, the police said.
In New York City, more than 15 inches of snow had fallen in Central Park by 4 p.m., according to the National Weather Service, and another three to five inches were expected overnight.
Earlier forecasts had predicted up to two feet of snow, which would have made the storm one of the biggest in the city’s history. But by late afternoon, most of the heavy snowfall bands that had been blanketing the city with one to two inches of snow an hour had moved north.
“That’s extremely intense snow,” Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said. “That’s blinding snow. You do not want to be out if there’s any way to avoid it.”
The storm prompted officials to close aboveground service on the city’s subway system and in-person learning at city schools was canceled until Wednesday. The city postponed coronavirus vaccination appointments scheduled for Monday and Tuesday to later in the week.
A foot of snow fell across much of New Jersey, with 20 inches reported in Hopatcong and nearly that much in Bridgewater and Randolph, the National Weather Service said. Eight to 12 inches were expected over the coastal areas of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, Boston’s National Weather Service office said on Twitter. Winter weather was also projected to continue pelting the Philadelphia region, local meteorologists said, with the city receiving five inches of snow by 5 p.m.
More than a foot of snow was reported in parts of neighboring Bucks County, and the National Weather Service said some of the region had reported six to 18 inches of snow. A combination of heavy snow and winds gusting as high as 60 m.p.h. in some areas could create power outages.
In Allentown, Penn., the police said they responded to a call that a 67-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease had walked away from her home early Monday morning. She was later found lying in the snow, dead from hypothermia, according to the county coroner.
Outdoor subway service in New York City was suspended starting at 2 p.m. on Monday because of the snowstorm, officials said.
There were no immediate plans to pause underground service, said Sarah E. Feinberg, the interim president of New York City Transit, which runs the city’s subway and buses.
“This is a dangerous, life-threatening situation,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said at a news conference on Monday. “And expect major closures, so you’re not surprised. And we don’t want anyone to be stranded in a location where they can’t get home again.”
The shutdown affected lines across the city and closed 204 of the system’s 472 stations, mostly in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, according to a map shared by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Passengers were required to disembark at the last underground station before the train goes above ground.
Southbound service on the F line ended in Brooklyn at the Jay Street-MetroTech station, for example. In Queens, the 7 line ended northbound service at Hunters Point Avenue. In the Bronx, northbound service on the 6 line ended at Hunts Point Avenue.
Patrick J. Foye, the chairman of the M.T.A., which oversees the subway, buses and two commuter lines, said the Long Island Railroad would stop running between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., while the last Metro-North Railroad trains would leave Grand Central Terminal around 3 p.m.
PATH trains, which link Manhattan with New Jersey, would also stop running at 3 p.m., according to Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The M.T.A. previously suspended aboveground subway service — while keeping underground service running — during a blizzard in January 2016. But the only time the whole subway system was closed because of a snowstorm was in 2015, when Mr. Cuomo ordered it shut down at 11 p.m. on Jan. 26.
That announcement caught transit workers by surprise and they were forced to scramble to bring the vast network to a halt within hours. Mayor Bill de Blasio said he found out about the closure when the public did. The storm largely spared the city, and the subway started to slowly reopen the next day, though the closure had disrupted the city’s economic life.
The subway was also closed in August 2011 ahead of Tropical Storm Irene and in 2012 ahead of Hurricane Sandy.
In the spring, officials decided to halt regularly scheduled overnight service for the first time in the M.T.A.’s history, shutting the system down from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to disinfect trains, equipment and stations during the coronavirus pandemic.