A MASSIVE BLIZZARD that claimed at least 19 lives in the eastern United States finally appeared to be winding down this morning, giving snowbound residents the chance to begin digging out.
The near-record snowstorm clobbered the eastern United States Friday and yesterday, shutting down New York and Washington and affecting some 85 million residents.
More than 4,400 flights were canceled, airports in New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore ground to a halt, the US capital shut down transport and America’s most populous city banned travel.
The fatalities occurred in Arkansas, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, while more than 200,000 people were left without power and 2,200 National Guard personnel were drafted in.
Forecasters said the storm – dubbed “Snowzilla” – dumped 22.2 inches in Washington. The 25.1 inches of snow that fell in New York’s Central Park, was the third highest accumulation since records began in 1869.
With the storm tapering off overnight, officials in New York planned to lift a travel ban at 7am today (12 mid-day GMT) – restoring access to roads throughout the city, and in Long Island and New Jersey.
“You never like to disrupt transportation and commerce. However, the storm was fast and furious,” said New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. “This is a storm that is nothing to be trifled with.”
Strong winds raised concerns of flooding for much of the east coast, the National Weather Service warned, with streets in some New Jersey coastal towns filled with water and ice.
In New York, bus services were suspended and overland commuter and subway trains were shut as Broadway canceled performances, museums closed, shops shuttered and the region’s pro sports teams rescheduled matches.
Metro and bus networks were shut down in Washington for the entire weekend, and largely shut in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Thousands of motorists were stranded for hours on highways further south.