Saturday 24 March 2018

19 die as massive snowstorm hits eastern US

Frank McGurty

New York has lifted a travel ban but remains in a state of emergency after a record-setting blizzard in the US northeast killed at least 19 people.

However, Washington remained at a standstill in the wake of the second-biggest snowstorm in New York City history. A total of 68cm of snow had fallen in Central Park by midnight on Saturday, just shy of the record 68.3cm set in 2006.

Millions of people in the northeast were forced to dig their homes out of snow drifts left behind by the blizzard.

Thirteen people were killed in weather-related car crashes in Arkansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia on Saturday. One person died in Maryland and three in New York while shovelling snow. Two died of hypothermia in Virginia.

Crews were working to restore power in places around the region and flooding remained a problem along the coast, but as predicted, the impact was nothing like Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

After the storm moved out into the Atlantic Ocean towards Ireland, much of the northeast experienced a mix of sun and clouds yesterday with temperatures just above freezing.

A resident shovels snow away from his home in Union City, New Jersey Photo: Reuters
A resident shovels snow away from his home in Union City, New Jersey Photo: Reuters
Parts of the east coast were left flooded after the blizzard, including this area of Atlantic City Photo: Reuters
A woman decorates a snowman in Times Square after the blizzard in New York City Photo: Getty Images

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted a travel ban on New York City-area roads and on Long Island early yesterday.

The New York Stock Exchange said the market planned to open as usual today.

The usually bustling New York City looked more like a ghost town, with all Broadway going dark on Friday and Saturday. Bruce Springsteen was forced to cancel his show scheduled for Madison Square Garden last night.

The New York Sanitation Department had ploughed all streets at least once, and was focusing yesterday on secondary and side streets.

The city was deploying more than 2,300 pieces of snow-clearing equipment and keeping sanitation workers on 12-hour shifts.

The National Weather Service said 45.2cm of snow fell in Washington, and Baltimore-Washington International Airport saw a record 74.2cm. The deepest regional total was 106.7cm at Glengarry, West Virginia. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a call for 4,000 people to help dig the city out, on top of the 2,000 volunteers already signed up.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives in the capital has cancelled its voting until February 1.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority had suspended operations until at least today while public schools were closed today across much of the Washington and Baltimore region.

About 3,500 flights in the US were cancelled yesterday, and 700 were called off for today, according to aviation website

Among New York-area airports, John F Kennedy International, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia were open, with limited flight activity expected yesterday.

About 150,000 customers in North Carolina and 90,000 in New Jersey lost electricity during the storm.

More than 20,000 residential and business customers in New Jersey remained without power yesterday, mostly along the Jersey Shore, which was hit with major flooding.

In North Carolina, about 4,000 Duke Energy customers had no power yesterday, mostly in the eastern part of the state.

Moderate coastal flooding was still a concern in the Jersey Shore's Atlantic County, said Linda Gilmore, a county public information officer.

The storm developed along the Gulf Coast when warm, moist air from the Atlantic Ocean collided with cold air to form the massive winter system, meteorologists said.

Irish Independent

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