Snowstorm wallops Northeast US
A fierce storm tore up the East Coast on Thursday, with lightning, thunder and tons of wet snow that stranded thousands of road, rail and air travelers.
Many airports, including the three in and around New York City, closed; in Washington, D.C., some 300,000 customers were without power.
The storm had been expected to dump about 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow but far surpassed that in spots. New York got 19 inches (48 centimeters), Philadelphia 17 inches (43 centimeters). Public schools closed for a second day in many cities, and motorists were warned to stay off slick roads. In New York, even the Statue of Liberty shut down for snow removal.
"What a mess," said Andy Kolstad, a 65-year-old federal statistician from Silver Spring, Maryland, as he walked to a Washington metro subway station because there was no bus service. His uphill hike took him half an hour. "There was no point in staying home because I couldn't have breakfast in the dark," he said.
The region has already been pummeled by winter and it's not even halfway into the season. NY has seen 55 inches (nearly 140 centimeters) of snow so far - and it typically gets just 21 inches (53 centimeters) for the whole season.
New York City's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said it was the snowiest January since the city started keeping records, besting 27.4 inches (nearly 70 centimeters) set in 1925.
In Massachusetts, travel was made trickier with high winds. In Lynn, Massachusetts, heavy snow collapsed a garage roof and briefly trapped two men inside before they were rescued safely. At busy Penn Station, about half the trains listed on the Amtrak departure board were delayed or canceled.
Two major New York-area airports, Newark and Kennedy, closed for snow removal but were scheduled to begin taking flights at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT). Hundreds of flights were cancelled at both airports. Nearby LaGuardia Airport had 168 cancellations. About 1,500 passengers were stranded overnight at Philadelphia International Airport, according to spokeswoman Victoria Lupica. Northeast of New York in New Canaan, Connecticut, a Metro-North commuter train ran off the tracks, suspending service. Its two passengers and crew members were not injured.
The Philadelphia area's transit agency, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, suspended nearly all bus service, and road crews worked through the night to gets tons of snow off major arteries.
More than 15,000 people lost power in the Philadelphia area, with thousands more in the dark in New Jersey and the New York area. About 100,000 lost electricity in and around Baltimore. Crashed, spun-out or disabled cars littered highways. More than 250 cars were disabled on New Jersey highways since Wednesday. After arriving in Washington from Wisconsin, President Barack Obama couldn't fly on the helicopter that normally takes him home to the White House from a nearby military base. Instead, a motorcade had to snake through Wednesday evening rush hour traffic already slowed by snow and ice.