Mid-Atlantic region digs out from historic piles of snow now that flakes have stopped
WASHINGTON — Residents of the U.S. capital and Mid-Atlantic states Sunday began digging out through piles of wet, heavy snow in below-freezing temperatures while power crews tried to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes and clear streets for the commute on Monday.
The National Weather Service called the storm “ historic” and reported 30 centimetres of snow in parts of Ohio and 60 centimetres or more in Washington, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Parts of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia got closer to 90 centimetres.
Many roads reopened but officials continued to warn residents that highways could be icy and treacherous. The snow snapped tree limbs onto power lines and several roofs collapsed under the weight. In Washington, city officials said it was unclear if the roads would be clear enough for workers to get in on Monday.
Some people without electricity worried whether the power would return in time for Sunday night’s Super Bowl football championship game — though it was an afterthought for others just trying to stay warm.
Julia Nickles-Bryan and her husband, Charles Bryan, were more focused on keeping their twin 7-year-old daughters warm inside their College Park, Maryland, home — where the thermostat read eight degrees Celsius. They had to make due with a gas stove, gas water heater and a fire in the fireplace.
“ We’re basically camping,” Nickles-Bryan said. Asked if she liked camping, she said, “No.”
In Philadelphia, 72 centimetres of snow fell Saturday, just shy of the record 78 centimetres during the January 1996 blizzard. Snow totals were even higher to the west in Pennsylvania, with 79 centimetres recorded in Upper Strasburg and 76 centimetres in Somerset.
Almost 46 centimetres of snow was recorded at Washington’s Reagan National Airport, which is closed. That’s the fourth-highest storm total for the city. At nearby Dulles International Airport in Virginia, the record was shattered with 81 centimetres. Flights there have resumed, but are severely limited.
Authorities say most public transportation in Philadelphia has resumed in the wake of the city’s second-largest snowfall. But in Pittsburgh, bus and light-rail service was suspended.
In New Jersey, more than 90,000 customers lost power during the storm’s peak. By Sunday morning, 59,000 homes and businesses — nearly all in southern Cape May County — remained without power. Workers from other areas were pitching in and state crews were trying to clear roads.
The snow led to thousands of crashes. Still, only two people had died — a father-and-son team who were killed trying to help someone stuck on a highway in Virginia.
In Washington, the sun was finally shining Sunday and the sounds of shovels could be heard on streets. Officials were urging people to keep thoroughfares clear to let plows get through.
A 63-year-old resident of Arlington, Va., who preferred not to be identified, brushes snow off the top of her husband's Jeep in the Washington metropolitan area Sunday. Cities in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. awoke Sunday to below-freezing temperatures and piles of heavy snow while power crews try to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes.