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A winter storm hit the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Wednesday, with forecasters predicting snowfall of up to two feet. The storm is expected to spread for about 1,000 miles.CreditCredit …Mark Makela / Getty Images

On Wednesday, the icy wind blew across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, with snowstorms causing snowfall and the affected areas to get dangerous road conditions combined with sleep and gusty winds.

State Police said Clinton County, Pa. A pileup involving dozens of cars on Interstate 80, two deaths. A Virginia State Police spokesman said a 19-year-old man had died in a car crash, one of about 200 state police had responded by 3 p.m.

In New York City, a multi-faceted collision on the saline section of the road already south of the bridge connecting Manhattan to the Bronx, a half-dozen people were hospitalized with non-fatal injuries, officials said.

As the night approached, the storm, as anticipated, was proving to be the largest in New York, Philadelphia, and other East Coast cities since the 2016 blizzard.

“Whatever was predicted is correct,” said meteorologist David Stark of the National Weather Service in New York on Wednesday evening. The Weather Service said Central Park had received 2.6 inches of snow by then.

Mr. Stark said that snow started falling several hours earlier in New York City and was expected to come with increasing intensity by midnight. At this point, he said that a mixture of snow and sleep would most likely result in rain.

In a later interview, Mr. Stark said that the change from snow to sleep could be as anticipated and the accumulation of snow in the city could end at the lower end of the eight to 12 inches that was forecast.

By 11:30 a.m. in upper Manhattan, the rain had turned into a mixture of snow, rain, and sleep that began to ease drift between parked cars. Temperatures and gusts of wind in the mid-20s made it unpleasant to walk just a short distance.

In Philadelphia, where snow gave way to sleep that afternoon, there were reports of it being close to five inches at Rittenhouse Square and six inches at Philadelphia International Airport.

Blizzard, a non-easter, struck in Maryland, Virginia, and the Washington area for the first time, with a mix of rain and snow. Near Frederick County, MD, dozens of cars can move barely inches on a clogged highway. In Washington, about 50 miles to the southeast, snow seemed to be slipping.

The storm was expected to spread about 1,000 miles from North Carolina to New England, According to the National Weather Service, And threatened to topple trees, knock out lightning and cover the roadways with snow (some outages were reported by 9pm). Western Maryland and southern central Pennsylvania were forecasting to bear the brunt of the storm, while those areas were experiencing two feet of snow.

Authorities said a municipality’s snow pelt was attacked and killed one person late Wednesday in western Pennsylvania. According to local media reports, about 13 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, North Versailles, Pa. The episode occurred just before 5 pm in the US, where it was said that the man was doing an ice-making job when the public plow used to plow him.

Schools that are adopting in-person classes, including New York City and Boston, have either discontinued or announced plans to do so. Snow forced the temporary closure of some coronavirus testing sites in the Baltimore area, and two city-sponsored mobile testing sites in Boston were also closed.

Matt Otton, manager of Zaffig’s Delicatessen, known for its Jewish comfort food at a restaurant in Boston, said he would not normally close due to inclement weather. This time, however, he was worried. “We are concerned for the safety of our workers because the roads are going to be very treacherous,” he said.

Forecasts predicted up to a foot of accumulation in New York - more than the city received all of last winter.
Credit …George Atherage for The New York Times

The first major winter storm of the season made its way to the East Coast on Wednesday and Thursday morning and, like everything in 2020, it was further complicated by the coronovirus epidemic.

Hospitals in the path of the storm, already overloaded with intensive care units and emergency departments from Kovid-19 hospitals, delayed elective surgery to keep beds available. Several major cities, including Baltimore and Hartford, Conn., Temporarily shut down coronavirus testing sites in anticipation of heavy snow and wind.

The storm also threatened the timely delivery of a coronavirus vaccine, similar to the first inoculations of health care workers that began this week. The St. Luke’s University Health Network, which operates 12 hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, expected its first vaccine delivery on Thursday, but a spokeswoman said it was likely the storm would be delayed.

While hundreds of school districts announced they would close Wednesday and Thursday due to the storm, others found that online learning was considered the right choice for a snow day during the pandemic, frustrated students took a day off Expected.

Even the usual headaches of flight delays – hundreds of flights were canceled on Wednesday – were new concerns due to the virus. Chloe Cho, 22, was scheduled to fly home from Boston to Chicago on Thursday, but the storm delayed her an extra day trip.

“I’m not thrilled,” he said. “I usually don’t shy away from waiting in airports, but now I’m scared because of the Kovid that I’m having to sit and wait for my flight due to the storm.”

Traffic and snow along the Vine Street Expressway in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Credit …Cameron Pollack for the New York Times

With a major winter storm in the eastern United States, you can expect some people (and, perhaps, essentially President Trump) to ask “what happened to global warming?”

It is becoming increasingly clear that climate change has an impact on hurricanes, although the relationship can be complex and, yes, counterintuitive. “These were expectations that winter was originally going to disappear on us,” said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at AAR, a company that provides customers with information about weather and climate risks.

Although winters are warming and to some extent overall, extreme weather events have also increased, and particularly in the northeastern United States, as Drs. Cohen recently reported in a paper in the journal Nature Communications. From the winter of 2008–9 to 2017–18, there were 27 major northeast winter storms, three to four times the total for each of the last five decades.

One of the factors potentially feeding storms is the warmer atmosphere, which can catch more water vapor; Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, said that not only can it mean more rainfall, but when clouds form in the form of vapor, “it releases heat into the air, which provides fuel for storms . ” Also potentially significant, but poorly understood, he said, is “an increased tendency for jet streams to take large swoops in the north and south”, setting up weather events like a dangerous polar vortex.

Does this mean that this particular storm has been fueled by climate change? Jonathan E. Martin, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanographic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, warned against making quick conclusions.

He said that because of the “intense natural variability” and weather in hurricanes, “I think it is a dangerous occupation to attribute individual winter storms, or their characteristics, to climate change.” He said that this storm in particular got a lot of moisture from the water vapor evaporating from the Atlantic Ocean, which complicates the picture.

Dr. Francis agreed that any connection is complex, but said, “All hurricanes now form in a much changed climate, so there is no doubt that the same storm would not be the same decades ago.”

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