US braces for major snowstorm as vaccine rollout continues

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By Euronews  with AP
A snowstorm is hitting the US as it rolls out its coronavirus vaccine programme
A snowstorm is hitting the US as it rolls out its coronavirus vaccine programme   -  Copyright  AP Photo

A major snowstorm has rolled into the northeast of the United States, just days after the start of a coronavirus vaccine campaign in the country, and amid a continuing surge in cases.

Snow was falling from northern Virginia to parts of New England on Wednesday, continuing into Thursday, with a forecast of as much as 2 feet (.6 metres) of snow in some places.

The US National Weather Service said on Wednesday the storm was "set to bring an overabundance of hazards from the mid-Atlantic to the Northeast."

These hazards include freezing rain and ice in the mid-Atlantic, heavy snow in the New York City area and southern New England, strong winds and coastal flooding, and possibly even severe thunderstorms and some tornadoes in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Officials said they didn’t expect the storm to disrupt vaccine distribution, which began on Monday for frontline health care workers.

The need for vaccines prompted New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to spare vaccine delivery trucks from a storm-related suspension of commercial traffic on some highways.

The state was anticipating more than two dozen vaccine deliveries in the next day or two.

The heaviest snowfall was expected in central Pennsylvania, where forecasters in the state capital of Harrisburg said a six-decade-old record for a December snowfall could potentially be broken.

The National Weather Service reported that parts of Centre County were hit with as much as 13 inches (33 centimetres) of snow by Wednesday night.

A crash in the state killed two people and involved dozens of vehicles on a major motorway on Wednesday afternoon, police said, while issuing a reminder to only travel if "absolutely necessary.”