US & Canada

US blizzard: Millions battle snow travel chaos

Commuters cram onto a New York City bus Image copyright AP

Millions of commuters across the eastern US battled disrupted transport systems struggling to recover from a huge blizzard.

Slippery pavements, crippled train networks, treacherous roads and cancelled flights were among the problems workers faced on Monday.

The US government in Washington, as well as many schools and businesses throughout the region, are shut.

As the clean up begins, at least 36 people have been left dead.

Many East Coast residents spent Sunday digging out their cars and clearing pathways of snow which reached about 3ft (91cm) in five states.

Media captionAerial footage showed how roofs caved in under the weight of the snow
Media captionSnowball fights and sledging - New York bounces back

Across the region:

  • Flights resume in Washington and Baltimore but 1,510 flights are delayed or cancelled throughout the region
  • Amtrak has limited service throughout the US northeast
  • The Washington Metro system is operating a severely reduced service
  • The New York subway system is almost back to normal service
  • Officials in Maryland say at least one lane is clear on many major highways in the state
  • In Delaware, authorities say that main roads have been cleared but suburban roads are still unploughed
  • Sections of the Pennsylvania turnpike, where over 500 vehicles were stranded over the weekend, has reopened

The storm, dubbed "Snowmageddon" and "Snowzilla", has weakened and headed into the Atlantic Ocean. It is expected to bring heavy rain and gale-force winds to the UK.

It affected some 85 million people, at one point cutting the power to 300,000 people. The heaviest fall was recorded in Glengary, West Virginia, which had 42in.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pedestrians are navigating large snow piles and slippery sidewalks

In New Jersey, residents are taking stock of damage left by severe flooding that was a result of the storm churning high surf.

Many homes were left partially submerged, but Governor Chris Christie said the flooding was not as bad as it could have been.

In New York City - which saw its second-highest snowfall since records began in 1869 - a travel ban that effectively shut the city down has now been lifted.

And all government-funded schools in the city are open today.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged people to leave their cars covered with snow all week, but he tweeted that the city was now "bouncing back".

Image copyright NASA Earth Observatory
Image caption NASA's Earth Observatory captured this image of Washington blanketed by snow
Image copyright Reuters

Other areas were faring less well.

In Washington DC, the US Congress has modified its schedule, with the House saying it will sit again on 1 Feb and the Senate delaying votes for a few days.

Federal government offices and public schools in the US capital are shut throughout the day. Many schools all the way up to New Jersey will also be closed.

State employees in Virginia and Maryland were told to stay home on Monday.

However, airports in the region are starting to restore service.


Were records broken?

  • In Baltimore, it was the largest snowfall recorded
  • In New York, the storm was the second-biggest on record
  • In Washington and Philadelphia, it was the fourth biggest

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Image copyright AP
Image caption Parts of New Jersey - as here in Sea Isle City - saw coastal flooding

By the time the snow had stopped falling after two days, late on Saturday, New York's Central Park had received 26.8in, the second-biggest fall recorded since 1869.

The total was just 0.1in (0.25cm) shy of the all-time high, 26.9in, recorded in February 2006.

However, the 26.6in that fell in the park on Saturday alone was a one-day record for the city.

Emergencies were declared in 11 states and in the District of Columbia.

The 36 fatalities were as a result of car accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning and heart attacks suffered while shovelling snow.

Media captionOne man donned a panda suit challenging the Smithsonian Zoo's Tian Tian to a snow battle

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