Washington (AFP) Feb 10, 2010
Blizzards and icy winds paralyzed the northeastern United States on Wednesday, shutting down federal government for a third day and spreading Washington's misery north to New York and Boston.
The latest falls made 2009-2010 the snowiest winter on record for the capital and brought conditions so perilous that people were banned from driving in the nearby city of Baltimore.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered schools closed for a rare "snow day" and the United Nations headquarters were also shuttered, but the worst of the weather was initially further south in snow-weary Washington.
Residents had barely dug themselves out from an avalanche of weekend snow when fresh blizzards struck, this time with Arctic winds of up to 55 miles (88 kilometers) per hour that made even the shortest trip hazardous.
"I urge all residents to heed the warnings of local officials and prioritize safety by staying off the roads unless absolutely necessary," Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano said in a statement.
One person was killed and another injured in a pile-up in central Pennsylvania, but most people heeded official advice to stay indoors and avoid driving.
"You will risk your life and, potentially, the lives of others if you get stuck on highways or any road," warned Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.
All flights from Washington airports were suspended and airlines operating out of New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Chicago reported cancellations and delays.
"Storm total snowfall of 20 to 30 inches (50 to 75 centimeters)... with highest totals north and east of Baltimore. Drifts three to six feet (90 to 180 centimeters)," read the latest bulletin from the National Weather Service.
Residents in Maryland and Virginia and the capital Washington faced more long days trying to entertain stir-crazy kids, some families still battling without power almost a week after the first storm barreled in.
"It's not easy to be cooped up inside with children because they can't go outside," Virginia resident Maria Abousleiman told AFP. "Right now, it's particularly difficult.
"They can't even go outside and enjoy the snow because it's too windy and very cold. The roads are plowed but in our area, it's really bad because they only plowed once. Our street isn't given priority because it's a smaller street."
Some snow plows in Baltimore were diverted to the port to pick up emergency shipments of salt to grit roads before they became treacherously icy.
"We just got a national weather alert saying that the conditions are life-threatening out on the streets so we've gone into phase three," said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
"That means only city-authorized emergency vehicles are allowed to be on the city roadways," she told CNN, describing it as the worst two-day blizzard to strike the area since 1922 and threatening fines to offenders.
Initially dubbed "Snowmageddon" by the local media, the humor has darkened as the novelty of the winter storms has worn off. The latest monikers used by Washingtonians are "Snoverkill" and "Say it ain't Snow."
"Shoveling is no fun," said Abousleiman, who had stocked up on groceries for a whole week in case she couldn't get out. "You have to keep shoveling because otherwise it piles up and gets harder and harder. It's very cold.
"Every time my husband tried to get out, the car was stuck. Every time you try to go out, there's an issue on the road, either a car stuck or one you have to push."
Federal government offices in the US capital were closed for the third straight day -- the first time that has happened in more than a decade -- while fresh snow piled up on three feet of weekend dumps.
Most of the 230,000 federal employees in the Washington area were off work, costing an estimated 100 million dollars a day in lost productivity.
At the White House, where President Barack Obama had no public appearances planned, ghostly silhouettes could be made out on the roof clearing packs of snow to prevent dangerous accumulation.
The premises were largely deserted, although some offices remained open and operational. Secret Service personnel abandoned their usual posts to hunker down in their cars.
Washington, Virginia and Maryland have all declared emergencies, allowing them to mobilize the National Guard. Maryland was already relying on National Guard humvees to help out and answer some emergency calls.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
It's A White Out at TerraDaily.com
Fresh snow misery hits eastern US
Washington (AFP) Feb 9, 2010
A major snowstorm pummeled the United States Tuesday from Illinois to Virginia and New York, nearing all-time winter records after an epic weekend blizzard paralyzed Washington and much of the east coast. Federal government offices in the capital will be closed Wednesday for the third straight day, while local schools prepared to remain closed until next week as the National Weather Service ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|