Severe winter storm bears down on Northeast

ABC New(NEW YORK) — A late-winter snowstorm is blanketing cities and suburbs across the Northeast Tuesday morning, from Maryland to Maine, causing thousands of school cancellations and halting work and travel for millions of Americans.

Blizzard warnings have been issued in parts of eight states in the densely populated Northeast and parts of Connecticut could see up to 2 feet of snow. Five states — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania — have declared states of emergency. The storm comes less than a week before the official start of spring.

The latest snowfall numbers and blizzard warnings


The storm system has made a significant shift inland, canceling the blizzard warnings in the highly populated metropolitan areas along Interstate 95. Blizzard warnings are now in effect in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania; northwest New Jersey; Hartford, Connecticut; Albany, New York; Burlington, Vermont; and Portland Maine.

The blizzard warning was canceled for New York City, which is now under a "winter weather advisory." Six inches of snow have fallen in New York City and another two to four inches were expected.

The highest snowfalls were expected in the Poconos, the Catskill Mountains in New York and the Berkshires in Massachusetts, as well as New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

Close to 18 inches of snow have already fallen between southern Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

About three inches of snow have fallen in Philadelphia, where it's raining and sleeting. About an inch of snow fell in Washington, D.C.

New York redeploying assets from NYC to central NY


New York is redeploying assets from New York City to the central part of the state after the storm moved west, bringing less snow than expected to New York City but more snow to central New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

“Mother nature is an unpredictable lady sometimes. She was unpredictable once again today," Cuomo said. "The forecast said the storm would hit New York City and Long Island the heaviest ... the way the weather pattern is actually shaping up, the storm has moved more westward."

The most hard-hit part of the state is now expected to be central New York, which could see blizzard-like conditions and up to 30 inches of snow, Cuomo said.

New York City and Long Island escaped with less disruption than expected, without the heaviest snow, without significant power outages and without any coastal flooding.

But Cuomo said that because New York City and Long Island are seeing sleet and precipitation, it is important to be mindful of the temperatures, because if the sleet and precipitation turn into ice, the Wednesday morning commute could be more difficult.

Cuomo told Good Morning America earlier Tuesday morning that "what's problematic for us is that it is a statewide situation."

"Normally in New York, it's such a big state geographically that it's either one end of the state or the other. This is statewide so we can't really deploy from one end of the state to the other.”

"There's a rate of snowfall that you can't keep up with,” Cuomo said. “When the rate of snowfall is about 3 inches an hour, you can't keep up with it ... you adjust.

In New York City, Cuomo said, "We did get ahead of it, which is basically the trick."

Schools in New York City are closed Tuesday and above-ground subway train service is shut down.

Connecticut prepares for up to 2 feet


In eastern Connecticut the forecast calls for 5 to 10 inches of snow, while central Connecticut could face 12 to 24 inches, or even more, Gov. Dannel Malloy said Tuesday morning.

Malloy said snowfall will be heavy at times between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., which will limit visibility.

A statewide travel ban was issued Monday and Malloy said citizens appear to be complying. Buses were canceled and Malloy emphasized that it's important to keep the roads clear, other than essential travel.

Connecticut's state police and National Guard have extra personnel ready to assist motorists that need to travel, he said. Connecticut State Police have responded to only 19 calls for service and only six accidents, and, thankfully, there were no major injuries, Malloy said.

Travel largely out of the question


Thousands of flights in and around the Northeast have been canceled. As of 6 a.m. ET, more than 5,400 flights had been canceled into or out of the United States Tuesday.

Newark International Airport in New Jersey had the most cancellations with 1,014, followed by 846 flights cancellations at New York City's LaGuardia and 811 flights at Boston's Logan Airport.

Amtrak has shut down service between New York City and Boston, while its service between Washington, D.C., and New York City will run on a modified schedule.

As of 2:30 a.m. ET, 2,932 schools across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast corridor were scheduled to close or have delayed openings. Schools in New Hampshire and Massachusetts were affected the most, with 914 and 630 closings or delays scheduled, respectively.

The snow is expected to make many roads impassable and could produce widespread power outages because of the weight of the snow on tree limbs and power lines, the National Weather Service said.

The service warned people in the affected areas to stay inside.

“Visibilities will become poor with whiteout conditions at times. Those venturing outdoors may become lost or disoriented,” the National Weather Service said in a statement early Tuesday. “So persons in the warning area are strongly advised to stay indoors.”

Damage in the Midwest


The weather system dumped a swath of snow on parts of the Midwest Monday before moving east across the country.

Icy road conditions in Chicago led to two car wrecks early Tuesday that involved 34 vehicles.

Seven people were transported to local hospitals with minor injuries as a part of those incidents, which occurred on the Kennedy Expressway, officials said.

Separately, four men died while removing snow in southeast Wisconsin, where snowfall topped 12 inches in some areas. The men were all between the ages of 64 and 76, according to ABC Milwaukee affiliate WISN-TV.

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Passenger who forced Honolulu emergency landing tells FBI ‘we all have’ terroristic thoughts

Passenger who forced Honolulu emergency landing tells FBI 'we all have' terroristic thoughtsiStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- The Turkish national who forced the emergency landing of American Airlines flight 31 in Honolulu on Friday allegedly told FBI agents "we all have" terroristic ideas, and pantomimed shooting an agent during his interview, according to a criminal complaint filed in Hawaii on Monday.

En route from Los Angeles to Honolulu, 25-year-old Anil Uskanli alarmed passengers and crewmembers while acting "strange," forcing the pilot lock down the flight deck and prompting the U.S. Pacific Command to send two F-22 fighter jets to escort the aircraft into Hawaii.

F22's taking off from Honolulu to escort American Airlines flight 31 #Hawaii pic.twitter.com/8cauepQ7Yt

— Anthony Quintano 🌴 (@AnthonyQuintano) May 19, 2017

"We all have those ideas," he said when asked if he ever had terroristic thoughts.

According to the complaint, Uskanli boarded the plane without any luggage, carrying only a phone, laptop, charger, and miscellaneous items in his pockets.

Not long after he was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing at LAX after breaching a security door while under the influence, crew escorted him down the jet bridge in a wheelchair.

Once aboard the Airbus 321, he plopped into a seat in first class. At a flight attendant's repeated urging, Uskanli eventually moved to 35B, his assigned seat.

After the flight took off, Uskanli began repeatedly moving his laptop from the seatback pocket to the space under the seat, "uttering things and talking to himself," one passenger told FBI agents.

He then got up to use the lavatory, but failed to lock the door, the complaint adds. When another passenger attempted to enter the lavatory, Uskanli allegedly began "yelling and pounding on the walls."

After flight attendants escorted him back to his seat, they found what appeared to be cigarette pieces around the toilet.

A short time later, Uskanli "wrapped a blanket around his head, picked up his laptop," and shuffled towards the front of the aircraft.

A flight attendant used a beverage cart to block the aisle, but Uskanli shoved back, then set his laptop on the cart, triggering immediate alarm among the crew. The flight attendant was concerned following reports that terrorists are attempting to target aircraft with explosives concealed inside electronics, the complaint explains.

While an off-duty law enforcement officer steered Uskanli back to his seat, a flight attendant barricaded the laptop in the rear of the aircraft -- standard procedure for handling a possible explosive device. To further mitigate the impact of a potential in-flight bomb, the pilot descended to 5,000 feet, according to the complaint.

Uskanli was restrained with duct tape, witnesses say.

Upon landing, Uskanli was escorted off the flight by law enforcement, and bomb technicians and canine units seized the laptop and secured the plane. No explosives were found inside the laptop, authorities say.

Uskanli's urinalysis came back positive for benzodiazepine. Other field sobriety tests indicated he may have been high on stimulants or cannabis, according to the complaint.

During a post-incident interview with FBI agents, Uskanli "made a gun shape with his fingers and pretended to shoot,"simulated a ‘chopping motion’" at an agent's neck, and threatened to kill a female agent, according to the complaint.

Asked if he planned to hurt anyone, he told agents, "it depends on the day."

He was charged with interfering with a flight crew, and was scheduled to appear in court Monday.

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