Exhausted commuters point fingers after crippling snowstorm

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The first snowfall of the season lingered Friday in the Northeast as thousands of exhausted commuters pointed their fingers at politicians and meteorologists for leaving them creeping along highways or stuck in mass transit hubs because of a storm that left seven dead as it moved through the Midwest and South.

Some students in West Orange, New Jersey, were forced to sleep at their schools after their buses turned back, while others were taken to a diner to eat because snow-covered roads were clogged with traffic Thursday.

"Students are safe in their schools with teachers and staff. They have eaten dinner and are preparing to get some rest," a district alert said.

SEE ALSO: Ancient 'super-Earth' exoplanet discovered orbiting nearby star

They were not alone in finding the ride home difficult. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tweeted it took him nearly six hours to travel a distance that normally would take 45 minutes.

Bridges and major roads in the New York metropolitan area reopened Friday after many closures caused by crashes during Thursday's storm.

Some drivers woke up in their cars Friday morning after being stuck overnight on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx. Accidents on the George Washington Bridge halted traffic on the crossing and led to backups in New York and New Jersey.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he understands why people are frustrated that city officials were caught off guard by a snowstorm that stranded some New Yorkers in their cars for hours.

See more from the storm: 

18 PHOTOS
Winter Storm Avery hits the U.S.
See Gallery
Winter Storm Avery hits the U.S.
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15: Snow falls as a women walks accross the plaza at the U.S.Capitol, on November 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. A winter storm advisory has been issued for the D.C. with moderate to heavy snow and sleet that could accumulate 1 to 2 inches. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15: Snow falls on the plaza at the U.S.Capitol, on November 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. A winter storm advisory has been issued for the D.C. with moderate to heavy snow and sleet that could accumulate 1 to 2 inches. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15: A women walks across the Capitol plaza as snow falls, on November 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. A winter storm advisory has been issued for the D.C. with moderate to heavy snow and sleet that could accumulate 1 to 2 inches. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15: A U.S. Capitol Police Officer patrols the Capitol plaza as snow falls on November 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. A winter storm advisory has been issued for the D.C. with moderate to heavy snow and sleet that could accumulate 1 to 2 inches. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A tour bus is towed away Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, after it overturned on an icy highway in northern Mississippi. DeSoto County sheriff's deputy Alex Coker said the tour bus carrying about 50 people overturned just after midday Wednesday south of Memphis, Tennessee. The crash came as a winter storm has been raking parts of the South. The county coroner, Josh Pounders, says two people are confirmed dead in the crash where Interstate 269 meets with Interstate 22. He says that the injured have been taken to area hospitals, some in critical condition. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
Richard Reichel shovels snow in front of his home on West Sixth Street in Erie, Pa., on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. A lake effect storm dumped 6.6 inches of snow on the city of Erie with additional accumulation expected throughout the day. (Jack Hanrahan/Erie Times-News via AP)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15: White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley takes careful steps while returning to the West Wing as snow and sleet from Winter Storm Avery covers the ground at the White House November 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. After moving through the Midwest, the storm is dropping a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain, forcing schools to close or delay opening in the Washington, DC, area. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A person walks across Independence Mall during a snow storm in Philadelphia, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A flamingo lawn ornament is covered with slushy snow after an overnight storm in East Derry, N.H., Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Southern New Hampshire received about five inches of snow before turning to rain later in the day. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Richard Burst clears snow from his driveway Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 in St. Louis. "All I really need to accomplish are two lanes for my car," he said. Much of the region had at least 4 inches of snow and forecasters expect about 1 inch or 2 inches more will fall by the time it tapers off around noon Thursday. (Robert Cohen /St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
A pedestrian makes her way through wintry weather in Mt. Holly, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. A mix of rain, sleet and snow started falling late Thursday morning in southern areas and was expected to soon move across the state. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Snow falls on trailers during a storm, Thursday night, Nov. 15, 2018, in Lawrence, Mass. Trailers have been set up to shelter people displaced from their homes due to gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley two months ago. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
People walk on Independence Mall during a snow storm in Philadelphia, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A person walks in view of Independence Hall as snow falls in Philadelphia, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A delivery man makes his way through wintry weather in Mt. Holly, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. New Jerseyans are dealing with their first taste of wintry weather this season. A mix of rain, sleet and snow started falling late Thursday morning in southern areas and was expected to soon move across the state. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A young buck forages for food during a snow storm, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Marple Township, Pa. Pennsylvanians are dealing with their first taste of wintry weather this season. A mix of rain, sleet and snow had started falling across some areas of the state by late Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Visitors stand in a wet snowfall at the 9/11 Memorial, Thursday Nov. 15, 2018, in New York. One of the first big storms of the season moved across the eastern half of the country Thursday, causing deadly traffic crashes and closing schools as it dropped snow as far south as central Alabama. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Traffic was backed up due to the snow on Rt. 61 in Pottsville, Pa., on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 15, 2018. The wintry weather was barreling eastward Thursday, with snow and ice expected from Ohio and the Appalachian Mountains through Washington, D.C., New York and New England. (Jacqueline Dormer/Republican-Herald via AP)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

De Blasio said on New York 1 Friday that the city "will do a full review of what happened here."

A mayoral spokesman said the early storm meant that Metropolitan Transportation Authority didn't have snow chains on its buses. He said many of them had to pull over, "further clogging streets."

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who tweeted the storm was worse than forecast, was slated to hold a briefing Friday.

NJ Transit bus passengers were told to expect substantial delays and cancellations Friday because many drivers, who inched their vehicles in the snow and ice, worked past their normal schedules and federal law mandated a rest period for them.

The delays for buses caused a logjam of commuters Thursday, forcing officials to close the doors at New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The wintry weather caused a traffic nightmare on a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 78 in Pennsylvania, with numerous vehicles stuck for several hours from the Lehigh Valley to the New Jersey state line. Police sometimes drove on the opposite side of highway, honking their horns to wake up drivers who had fallen asleep.

About 105,000 homes and businesses were without power Friday in Pennsylvania, mostly in the western part of the state.

Some areas of Massachusetts received more than nine inches of snow in the storm, which turned to rain overnight to complicate the morning commute.

The towns of Topsfield, Carlisle and Billerica, northwest of Boston, were among the towns that got more than nine inches of snow, the National Weather Service said. Boston got less than three inches.

State police said a stretch of the Massachusetts Turnpike east was closed Friday morning after several tractor-trailer crashes.

Many schools in northern New England were delayed or closed after the region saw anywhere from four to eight inches of snow. Interstate speeds in New Hampshire and Maine were lowered to 45 mph.

Schools were closed or were opening with delays in upstate New York, including in the Albany and Syracuse areas.

___

Associated Press writers Karen Matthews in New York, Bob Salsberg in Boston, Kathy McCormack in Concord, N.H., and Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this story.

Read Full Story