Winter Storm Hits Northeast, Midwest

Associated Press
Thursday, February 15, 2007

NEW YORK, Feb. 14 -- Blowing snow and sleet glazed windshields and roads across the Northeast and the Midwest on Wednesday, messing up Valentine's Day flower deliveries and wrecking couples' plans for romantic dinners.

The storm grounded hundreds of flights and forced the closing of schools and businesses from Kentucky to Maine. Many of those stuck at home had no heat or lights because of blackouts that affected more than a quarter of a million customers.

"I'm just trying to figure out where to take my wife for Valentine's Day," said Skip Daniels, the emergency management director in Sussex County, N.J.

At least 13 deaths were blamed on the huge storm system.

Blizzard warnings were posted in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine, where as much as two feet of snow was possible.

The storm's cold, snow, sleet and rain made life difficult for Valentine's Day messengers.

"Cold. Slippery. Nobody has their sidewalks sanded," said Caroline Roggero at Rose Petal Florist in Newport, R.I. "They all want their delivery today."

The storm was a convenient excuse for husbands and boyfriends who forgot to send flowers.

Some delivery drivers got stuck on the roads. Flowers delivered to offices were turned away because the businesses were closed. Many customers had to change their orders to have flowers delivered to homes instead of places of work.

"We're hoping people will understand we're doing the best we can do," said Pat Jarvis at Dwyer Florist in Northampton, Mass.

The 15,000-member Society of American Florists says Valentine's Day business accounts for more than a third of annual sales. Spokeswoman Jennifer Sparks said that most florists have four-wheel-drive vehicles and that many tried to deliver flowers early.

Americans were expected to spend $16.9 billion this Feb. 14, according to the National Retail Federation's annual Valentine's Day survey. More than 45 percent of consumers planned an evening out.

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