Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Blizzard brings much of East Coast to a standstill

Published:Sunday | January 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Workers help free a motorist from the snow on L Street in downtown Washington, yesterday.
Andy Mathe, left, helps his neighbour Charlie Faville, centre, and his son-in-law Danny Sweetman dig out from a heavy snowfall in Delaware.


A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the United States East Coast to a standstill yesterday, and today is not expected to be much better.

The storm dumped as much as three feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travellers and shutting down the nation's capital and its largest city.

After days of weather warnings, most of the 80 million people in the storm's path heeded requests to stay home and off the roads, which were largely deserted. But more was yet to come, with dangerous conditions expected to persist until early today.

In addition to snow and treacherous winds, the National Weather Service predicted up to half an inch of ice for the Carolinas and potentially serious coastal flooding for the mid-Atlantic region.

"This is going to be one of those generational events, where your parents talk about how bad it was," Ryan Maue, a meteorologist for WeatherBell Analytics, said from Tallahassee, Florida, which also got some flakes.

Snow fell from the Gulf Coast to New England. In nearly two-dozen places, it passed the 20-inch mark by late morning, according to the weather service. Terra Alta, West Virginia, reported 28 inches.

At least 10 deaths were blamed on the weather, most from traffic accidents.

The long-anticipated storm exceeded expectations, so forecasters increased their snow predictions for New York and points north.

The new estimates were for heavy snow all the way up to just south of Boston, forecaster Patrick Burke from the weather service's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said.

Eighteen to 24 inches were predicted for Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia; 24 to 30 inches for areas just north and west of Interstate 95 outside those two cities; and 15 to 20 inches for New York.




"This is kind of a top-10 snowstorm," said weather service winter storm expert Paul Kocin, who co-wrote a two-volume textbook on blizzards. And for New York and Washington, this looks like top five, he said. "It's a big one."

By midday yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a travel ban in New York City, ordering all non-emergency vehicles off the roads by mid afternoon. Mayor Bill de Blasio urged Broadway theatres and restaurants to close. The city's commuter rails and above-ground segments of the subway were to shut down too, along with buses.