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A shopping cart sits idle in a Trader Joe's parking lot during a winter snowstorm in Philadelphia.
A shopping cart sits idle in a Trader Joe's parking lot during a winter snowstorm in Philadelphia.
Image: Matt Rourke via Press Association Images

It's January and we've no snow. These pics from the US might induce jealousy (or fear)

New York and Washington are among the US cities battling huge snowfall and freezing temperatures.
Jan 22nd 2014, 11:03 AM 17,464 19

WE MIGHT BE enjoying crisp, sunny starts to our days here…but it’s a different story state-side.

The northeastern US is shivering amid heavy snowfall and far below average temperatures in a storm that grounded thousands of flights and triggered traffic chaos.

The nasty weather with its bone-chilling gusts and heavy snow stretched from Washington to New England. The Midwest was hit hard, too.

Taking into account the wind chill factor, the temperature in Chicago plummeted to minus 20 Fahrenheit (-28 Celsius), the Chicago Tribune said.

In the nation’s largest city, New York, the commute home yesterday evening was a mess and the city was expected to get as many as 14 inches (35 cm) of snow by this morning.

“It’s horrible. Snow is cute for only a little bit,” Mary Catherine Hughes, standing by a subway stop with an umbrella rendered useless in fierce wind, told The New York Times.

The city’s new mayor Bill de Blasio urged people to stay home say road crews could clear streets.

Downtown Washington fell eerily silent after the federal government, seeing the swift-moving storm approaching, closed its doors and told civil servants, who already had the day off Monday for the Martin Luther King holiday, to stay home Tuesday.

On Wednesday, federal agencies were to open two hours late. Employees could also take unscheduled leave, and those that can were allowed to work from home.

The nation’s capital is famous for cowering in the face of even a few flakes but Tuesday’s storm seemed to justify a shutdown.

Many offices and schools followed suit, as 20 mile (32 kilometer) per hour winds whipped through the US capital’s unusually quiet streets.

Most area schools, in the city and neighbouring Maryland and Virginia, remain closed again today.

Washington’s Metro public transit system reported half as many riders yesterday than what’s usually on a typical weekday. Business was so slow that many restaurants used Twitter to woo customers with bargain-priced drinks while others offered customers 2-for-1 deals.

In Philadelphia, the official total at Philadelphia International Airport was 11 inches of snow yesterday evening, a record for the day January 21.

Temperatures across the eastern part of the country will be 10 to 25 degrees below average today.

FlightAware, a website that monitors air traffic in real time, said nearly 3,000 flights into, out of or within the United States were cancelled yesterday.

The lion’s share of affected flights involved busy airports in the New York, Philadelphia and Washington areas.

National rail company Amtrak said it would operate “a modified schedule” today on its Northeast Corridor line between Washington and Boston, as well as on two other routes in the hard-hit region.

States of emergency were declared there, as well as in New Jersey and Delaware, according to CNN.

Across the Hudson River, New Jersey went ahead with its mid-day inauguration ceremony for re-elected governor Chris Christie, who is battling allegations he used his office to bully political foes.

But an evening gala on historic Ellis Island in New York Harbor to mark the start of his new term in office was scrapped due to the storm.

Schools across the Northeast either closed for the day or told parents to expect their youngsters to be dismissed from class earlier than usual. Closures in many areas were extended through today. Meanwhile, courthouses called off proceedings in the afternoon.

- © AFP, 2014

US prepares for ‘polar vortex’ which could plunge temperatures to -51 degrees Celsius>

Temperatures colder than Mars cause 21 deaths across the United States>

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