US east coast battered by snow storm
Thousands of flights grounded and government offices closed
A visitor to the National Mall walks through a late afternoon snowfall in Washington yesterday. Photograph: EPA
A swirling storm has battered parts of the US, dumping nearly a foot and a half of snow, grounding thousands of flights, closing government offices and hampering the evening commute yesterday.
The storm stretched 1,000 miles between Kentucky and Massachusetts but hit especially hard along the heavily populated corridor between Philadelphia and Boston, creating perilous rides home for millions of motorists.
The National Weather Service said Manalapan, New Jersey, got 15.5 inches of snow, Philadelphia slightly more than a foot and Brookhaven, near Philadelphia’s airport, 15 inches, while parts of New York City saw 10 inches.
The snow came down harder and faster than many people expected. A blizzard warning was posted for parts of Massachusetts, including Cape Cod.
Roads in the New York City metropolitan area were jammed, and blowing snow tripled or even quadrupled drive times.
Parts of the north-eastern New England states saw initial light snowfalls turn heavier as the night wore on. Foxboro, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island, each received about 11 inches of snow, and Stamford, Connecticut, got 9 inches.
Forecasters said the storm could be followed by bitter cold as arctic air from Canada streams in.
In Maryland,the storm was blamed for at least one death in the state, that of a driver whose car collided with a tractor-trailer on a snow-covered road 50 miles from Baltimore.
And police said the storm might have claimed more lives: A preliminary investigation showed wet conditions played a role in a two-vehicle crash that killed two people in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
The storm was a conventional one that developed off the coast and moved its way up the Eastern Seaboard, pulling in cold air from the Arctic.
Unlike the epic freeze of two weeks ago, it was not caused by a kink in the polar vortex, the winds that circulate around the North Pole.
This second fierce blast of winter weather is sapping fuel supplies in many regions in the US and sending prices for propane and natural gas to record highs.
About 3,000 flights were cancelled yesterday, with airports from Washington to Boston affected.
More than 1,000 flights for today were called off as well. Amtrak planned to cut back passenger train service.
The rush to get home early by many workers was evident in Philadelphia, where many commuter trains were packed.
The storm put a damper on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s inauguration, forcing the cancellation of an evening party.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick postponed his annual State of the State address, and the Philadelphia Flyers postponed their ice hockey game last night.
Schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky stayed closed for an extra day after the Martin Luther King Day holiday or sent students home early.
Federal workers in the Washington area also were given the day off.
Intending passengers to the US should check with their airline before travelling to the airport.