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Winter strikes back in late eastern US storm

Wind blows snow off the trees as a man with a snow shovel walks down a street in the Bronx Borough of New York City. Late season snow and high winds punched through the eastern United States on Monday snapping power lines, closing schools and snarling air and road traffic. Photo courtesy AFP

Roofs collapse as heavy snowfall batters Norway
The roofs of a supermarket and an outdoor school playground collapsed in southern Norway on Monday after heavy snowfall pounded the region but no injuries were reported, authorities said. In the town of Larvik, some 130 kilometres (80 miles) southwest of Oslo, the roof of a supermarket collapsed during the morning, but the four employees and three patrons inside the store at the time were unhurt in the accident, police said. Sniffer dogs were nonetheless dispatched to the scene to make sure there were no victims trapped inside the building. Later in the day, the roof of a 400-square-metre (4,305-square-foot) outdoor playground at an Oslo school also gave way under the heavy snow. Four pupils managed to escape from under the structure just in time, the daily Aftenposten reported on its website, citing witnesses. Both accidents were attributed to the heavy masses of snow that had accumulated. According to the Norwegian meteorological institute, there has been more snowfall than usual in February in Oslo, and "much more" than usual along the coast where Larvik is located. In the capital, authorities have been obliged to toss the snow into the Oslo fjord as the regular depots are already full. The move has been criticised by environmental activists, who argue that the snow collected from the city is contaminated with heavy metals and salt, which in turn pollute the fjord.
by Staff Writers
New York (AFP) March 2, 2009
Late-season snow and high winds punched through the eastern United States Monday, killing at least five people as the freeze snapped power lines, closed schools and snarled air and road traffic.

More than one foot (30 centimeters) of snow fell in parts of the northeastern states of Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the National Weather Service said, as the storm swept toward Canada after paralyzing traffic in southern states during the weekend.

Five people died in storm-related traffic accidents in the northeast, including a pregnant woman in Boston, news site reported.

Flights to LaGuardia in New York, as well as to Philadelphia airport, were delayed by at least 45 minutes, and many were cancelled early Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Schools were closed in Boston and New York and delayed in Washington.

In Massachusetts, the state government told non-emergency employees to take the morning off and to avoid using private cars.

Christopher Vaccaro at the National Weather Service told AFP the storm had taken an "ideal" track to cause maximum havoc along the densely populated Atlantic coast.

"It was just close enough to the coast to bring heavy snow along the urban corridor -- not too far inland where it would change the snow and mix it with rain and sleet, while not too far off the coast to fall into the water," he said.

By midday Monday (1700 GMT) the storm was "on its last legs" and heading out into the Atlantic and southeastern Canadian territory, Vaccaro said.

However in northeastern US states, "it will be extremely cold and windy behind the storm, with winds over 30 miles an hour (48 kmh) that will continue to blow and drift the snow," he warned.

Southern states looked forward to more typical weather following Sunday's freak battering. Temperatures on Monday crept back above freezing in Atlanta, Georgia, and were forecast to hit 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 Celsius) by Wednesday.

For northeastern states used to harsh weather the surprise storm was relatively easily handled.

New Yorkers, who only last week were starting to store away winter coats, saw more than seven inches (18 cm) of snow by early Monday, with about twice that amount forecast, accompanied by icy 20 miles an hour (32 kmh) winds.

However, an army of workers manning 1,500 snowplows, with hundreds of salt spreaders, fought successfully to keep Manhattan's busy streets clear.

"It's the first of March, which you know is the month that we say comes in like a lion and out like a lamb," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters.

With the storm unlikely to linger, he wryly suggested that students taking their unscheduled vacation should be ready to hand in their homework on Tuesday.

In the usually temperate south, the impact was more dramatic.

The storm stunned southerners, provoking a rash of traffic accidents, huge jams along the freeways, and hundreds of flight cancellations.

Between four and eight inches (10-20 cm) fell in the Washington area, while a hefty 11.8 inches (30 cm) blanketed one part of Virginia, the National Weather Service said. North Carolina saw similar amounts and South Carolina a little less.

States far better known for their sultry summers like Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia all had a significant snowfall. One spot in Tennessee even got a huge 1.5 foot (46 cm) of snow, the National Weather Service said.

In Washington, Mayor Adrian Fenty declared a snow emergency on Sunday. More than 23,200 homes and businesses in the area were without electricity, local WTOP radio reported.

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Briton calls friends on mobile while in avalanche: report
Vienna (AFP) Feb 24, 2009
A 26-year-old Briton talked to friends on his mobile phone as he was being buried in an avalanche in western Austria Tuesday, the Austria Press Agency reported.

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