U.S. East Coast struggles to return to normal after blizzard

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 25, 2016 9:24 AM

By Barbara Goldberg and Doina Chiacu

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Major U.S. East Coast cities struggled on Monday to return to normal following a massive weekend blizzard that dropped about two feet (60.96 cm) of snow on cities including New York and Washington.

Commuters faced delayed trains and buses and traffic was heavy heading into major metropolitan areas as many roads remained clogged with drifts of snow.

In Washington, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management said federal government offices were shut on Monday, while further north, the New York Stock Exchange and the city's public schools were scheduled to open as usual.

At least 20 people have died from storm-related causes including traffic accidents and heart attacks while shoveling, with deaths reported in states stretching from Arkansas to New York.

Air travel remained seriously affected as some 1,390 U.S. flights were canceled on Monday, with Newark Liberty International Airport, New York's LaGuardia Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport the hardest hit, according to FlightAware.com.

More than 12,000 U.S. flights were slashed from Friday through Monday, with some airlines cancelling flights into Tuesday, FlightAware reported.

The blizzard was the second biggest snowstorm in New York City history, with 26.8 inches (68 cm) measured in Central Park by midnight on Saturday, shy of the record 26.9 inches (68.3 cm) set in 2006, the National Weather Service said.

The NWS said 22.4 inches (57 cm) fell in Washington at the National Zoo, and Baltimore-Washington International Airport notched a record 29.2 inches (74.2 cm). The deepest regional total was 42 inches (106.7 cm) at Glengarry, West Virginia.

In the Washington suburb of Arlington, Virginia, on Monday the main thoroughfare leading into Washington was clear but virtually empty as secondary roads were clogged by slush and partly blocked by huge mounds of snow created by plowing. 

Dozens waited for more than half an hour for the subway into downtown as limited metro service began.

"It's beautiful to watch but impossible to get through," said John Salmons, a 24-year-old designer who works at an architecture firm. "The main roads were fine it was just the secondary roads that were worst."

Even with federal government offices officially closed, the Supreme Court was open for business, scheduled to issue rulings and act on pending appeals from the snowbound courthouse across from the U.S. Capitol building. In past storms, including hurricanes and blizzards, the court also remained open, even hearing oral arguments.

(Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)