Photo: Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images
A huge winter blizzard pummelled America’s Northeast overnight as powerful winds and heavy snow blanketed swathes of America’s most populous region.
Photo: Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images
Boston was expected to be hit by three feet of snow, topping the city’s previous record fall of 27 inches. Hundreds of thousands of people on the US east coast lost power, while airlines cancelled more than 5,000 flights, as the storm battered states and provinces from New Jersey into Canada .More than 650,000 homes and businesses are without power, according to The New York Times.
As roads became increasingly dangerous, the storm’s first two deaths in car crashes were reported in Canada.
The chaos seemed certain to worsen later on Saturday as winds gusting past 70 mph whipped up drifts of up to six feet deep, with heavier snowfall predicted for several more hours. Tidal surges were also expected to pound ashore in coastal regions that were devastated by superstorm Sandy barely three months ago.
Yet even as Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island took the unprecedented measure of banning private vehicles from roads and several governors declared states of emergency, in Manhattan the world’s fashion elite defiantly insisted that, on Friday night at least, the shows must go on.
New York fashion week, one of the most important dates in the industry’s calendar, is in full swing this weekend. And even as the snow swirled, female models swapped stilettos for snow-boots and flats and guests bundled themselves up in double coats as they made their way to runway shows.
“I’m wearing flats,” said jewelry designer Mona Assemi, a note of wonder in her voice as she looked down at her feet. The self-described Washington-based “fashionista” said she is “always in heels” but had decided to be sensible in the face of the blizzard named “Nemo” by The Weather Channel.
Bundled up in a heavy coat, a fur hat and a cashmere scarf draped around her face like a balaclava, she was slowly making her way through driving wet snow to New York’s Lincoln Centre, headquarters of fashion week.
While the massive storm shut down airports, closed schools and businesses and sent most people scurrying for cover, fashion industry insiders were determined not to let a little snow deter them.
As two Bobcat snow-ploughs whirled noisily around the Lincoln Centre plaza, trying to keep the snow at bay, glamorous guests gingerly picked their way through the icy slush to the hall where the American designer Nicole Miller was showing on Friday evening.
Miss Assemi was one of many in the fashionable crowd who had not completely sacrificed style for function. Her boots, she said, were Yves St Laurent in black patent “and they’re actually very comfortable”.
Isaiah Isaac, an accessories designer and a writer for The Fashion List website, noted that some shows were less crowded than normal. “There’ve been a few empty seats because I think some people’s flights were cancelled but it’s all still more or less going ahead,” he said.
Underneath his red coat, he was wearing two sweaters, a shirt and a vest — though he said he had drawn the line at putting on long johns. “Not a lot of people are dressing down,” he said. “They’re still tip-toeing around in their heels. In fact, it’s been the highlight of my day, watching them. It’s really quite funny.”
Texan fashion fans Courtney Kerr and Shannon Yoachum held on to each other and kept their heads down in the near white-out conditions. Although unused to this type of weather, the pair were determined to go to all the shows. “We don’t sacrifice for fashion! Beauty is pain!” they squealed.
Fashion blogger Margie Ashcroft scoffed at the idea of Nemo making a dent in New York Fashion Week. “This is our livelihood, what we wait around for all year,” she said. “We’re not going to let a little bit of bad weather stop us.” She had, however, noticed more Escalades around as a mode of transport. “People are calling up and using their car services,” she said.
The blizzard did force fashion designer Michael Kors to wear Uggs to travel to his Project Runway fashion show. “I came in looking like Pam Anderson,” he joked to journalists, before changing into more tasteful leather boots. But most fashion observers thought the appalling weather was a chance to dress warmly but stylishly. “Crushing on the coat-over-coat layered look!” tweeted one fashion show attendee.
Shops and fuel stations witnessed panic buying, not least in New York and New Jersey where memories of the havoc wrought by superstorm Sandy are still deeply-etched.
By the time the storm passes through on Saturday, forecasters predicted snowfall in New York City of 10 to 14 inches; 24 inches in Connecticut; and the record-breaking tallies in Boston.
The “monster storm” is the product of two weather systems smashing together — one powering down on the Arctic jet stream from Canada while the other was a winter “nor’easter” barreling in from the North Atlantic.
“The storm should reach its peak intensity early Saturday morning just east of Cape Cod,” the National Weather Service predicted.
In New England, residents were braced for a storm worst than the infamous 1978 blizzard that dumped 27 inches of show and was blamed for dozens of deaths.
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