Snow storm slams U.S. northeast, cancels flights
A lone pedestrian walks her dog during an evening snow storm in Washington, January 26, 2011. A winter storm brought snow and icy rain causing havoc as some motorists abandoned their stranded vehicles on the Washington capital beltway during evening rush-hour in the capital region. (Hyungwon Kang/Reuters)
BOSTON—Americans up and down the East Coast dug out their cars, shovelled sidewalks and slogged through a treacherous morning commute Thursday after a fast-moving winter storm dumped up to 48 centimetres of snow on the region.
Public schools closed for a second day and motorists were warned of dangerous road conditions. In New York City, officials declared a snow emergency and even the Statue of Liberty was closed for snow removal.
It was an exhausting spectacle for a region already contending with above-average snowfall this season.
In New York's Central Park, 39 centimetres had fallen while 48 centimetres hit parts of New Jersey, the National Weather Service reported. Forecasts called for up to 30 centimetres in the Boston area and perhaps 36 centimetres in areas of Rhode Island. In the Philadelphia area, up to 43 centimetres of snow fell by the time the storm moved north.
In Portsmouth, N.H., workers were nearly out of room to stash their plowed snow.
"We probably have a five-story snow dump right now," said Portsmouth public works director David Allen. "We could probably do a ski run."
In Massachusetts, travel was made trickier with high winds. Gusts of 74 km/h were reported in Hyannis, 72 km/h in Rockport and 79 km/h on Nantucket early Thursday.
The New York area's three major airports, among the nation's busiest, saw more than 1,000 flights cancelled. About 1,500 people were stuck overnight at Philadelphia International Airport, where more than 400 flights were cancelled.
Rain drenched Washington, the nation's capital for most of the day and changed to sleet before it started snowing in earnest at mid-afternoon. The snow and icy roads created hazardous conditions for President Barack Obama as he returned to the White House after a post-State of the Union trip to Manitowoc, Wis.
Officials urged residents in Washington and Maryland to stay off the roads as snow, thunder and lightning pounded the Mid-Atlantic region. In Washington, Metro transit officials pulled buses off the roads as conditions deteriorated and heavy snow brought down many power lines, causing outages.
Since Dec. 14, snow has fallen eight times on the New York region — or an average of about once every five days. That includes the blizzard that dropped 51 centimetres on New York City and paralyzed travel after Christmas. When the snows arrived Wednesday, the city had already seen 91 centimetres of snow this season in comparison with the winter average of 53 centimetres.
New York City declared a weather emergency for the second time since the Dec. 26 storm, which trapped hundreds of buses and ambulances and caused a political crisis for the mayor.
Through Tuesday, Boston had received 128 centimetres of snow, a nearly 270 per cent increase over normal levels. The central Massachusetts city of Worcester had gotten 125 centimetres and Providence, Rhode Island had recorded 81 centimetres, twice the norm for both places.
Following an overnight snowstorm that hit the New York area, a man shovels a sidewalk in Hoboken, New Jersey, Jan. 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)