US: Snowstorm brings eastern US to standstill

24th Jan 2016
US: Snowstorm brings eastern US to standstill

NEW YORK (AA) – The first major snowstorm of the season pounded much of the eastern U.S. coast on Saturday, dumping more than 30 inches of snow on parts of four states while shutting down the country’s largest city.

The weekend whiteout has been blamed for at least 18 deaths in Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, according to media reports. Six of them died while shoveling snow, officials said.

States of emergency have been declared in 11 states as well as in the nation’s capital. Up to 85 million people are in the storm’s path, officials said.

As of Saturday night, more than 10,800 flights were cancelled from Friday through Sunday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.com.

More than 208,000 customers were without power due to the effects of the storm, U.S. media said, citing various energy companies.

The heaviest snowfall recorded so far has been 40 inches (101 cm) in the Eastern Panhandle region of West Virginia as of Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service. Parts of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania also saw more than 30 inches (76 cm) of snow.

In New York City, a travel ban was imposed in and around the city to keep drivers off the streets, with Mayor Bill de Blasio saying it could be “very likely one of the worst snowstorms in our history”.

“The best thing people can do is go home, stay home,” he told a news conference. He said the ban would be lifted at 7 a.m. (1200GMT) on Sunday.

The National Weather Service said 25.1 inches (63.7 cm) of snow had fallen on Central Park, the largest public park in Manhattan, by 9 p.m. The all-time record for the park is 26.9 inches, recorded in 2006.

“We see this as a major storm. It has life-and-death implications. And all the residents of the District of Columbia should treat it that way,” Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said. The White House saw at least 13 inches (33 cm) of snow during the day. Airports in the capital will remain closed on Sunday.

New Jersey’s southern shores faced significant flooding on Saturday as strong winds combined with high tides. Some 90,000 people were left without power in the state, according to media reports.

The snow and wind will start to taper off Sunday morning, the National Weather Service said.

 

 Author Mustafa Çağlayan
[Photo: Evan Shawler (L) and Alec Kersey (R) attempt to clear the snow from around their cars in Rockville, Md., USA on January 23, 2015. Parts of the Washington region are seeing as much as 30 inches of snow since just the day before. Photojournalist Samuel Corum/AA]

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