Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Snowstorm Slams Mid-Atlantic and Points North
Plows that have been rolling around the clock for days in the nation's capital, Philadelphia and Baltimore won't be heading for the garage any time soon as a second major storm in a week moved into the snowbound region Wednesday.
Snow was falling from northern Virginia to Connecticut by early Wednesday. The storm started in the Midwest, where it was blamed for three traffic accident deaths in Michigan on Tuesday.
Along the East coast, thousands of workers were scrambling to plow and salt roads. Maryland officials said salt supplies used by road crews were dwindling in some parts of the state. A spokesman for Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation said drivers' shifts were running as long as 16 hours.
"It can be exhausting, mentally and physically," said Jerry Graham, a state plow truck driver in Pennsylvania's Lehigh County.
Areas that dodged last week's storm, which buried some areas in nearly 3 feet of snow, won't be as lucky this time around. Airports in the New York City area joined their counterparts farther south in canceling many flights, while the city's 1.1 million school children had a rare snow day Wednesday, only the third in six years. As much as a foot was expected there.
A forecast of at least that much new snow wasn't welcome in Washington and Philadelphia, which were hit hard by a blizzard over the weekend. Each needs about 9 more inches to give the cities their snowiest winters since 1884, the first year records were kept.
"It's hard to find anything in the history books of these types of storms back-to-back," said National Weather Service meteorologist Stephen Konarik.
Michael Giambattista, 56, a truck driver from Elizabeth, Pa., had been without power since Friday and was staying at a Red Cross shelter near his home with his girlfriend and 13-year-old son.
"I've never been without power like this," said Giambattista, who was trying to help keep spirits up among the more than 50 people at the shelter. "Mother Nature, you can't battle her. She's going to win."
The storms have kept some workers and students home for the better part of a week. About 230,000 federal workers in Washington have been off since Friday afternoon, when the first storm began. The U.S. House announced it was scrapping the rest of its workweek. Several hearings and meetings in Congress and federal agencies were postponed, including one planned to address Toyota's massive recalls.
"It's embarrassing that the world's largest superpower closes from a few feet of snow," said Alex Krause, 23, of Los Angeles, who was stranded in Washington and visiting the National Mall. "The Kremlin must be laughing."
But the effects of the federal government's closure were negligible since about 85 percent of federal employees work outside the Washington region. An IRS spokeswoman said tax returns should not be affected.
Thousands remained without power from the last storm in parts of western Pennsylvania, Maryland and other areas. Utilities said deep snow was hindering some crews trying to fix damaged power lines even before Tuesday's storm arrived.
Their task could grow even more difficult with new snowfall and winds gusting up to 50 mph that create blizzard conditions in the Mid-Atlantic.
The Washington area was expected to get a foot or more of snow, while Baltimore and Philadelphia could each get as many as 20 inches.
Most flights were canceled at Philadelphia's airport after 8 p.m. Tuesday, and Washington's airports had halted all but a few flights. Continental Airlines canceled all 400 of its Wednesday flights at Newark Liberty Airport, as well as several hundred more regional flights on affiliate airlines. U.S. Airways and Continental also canceled most flights at New York's LaGuardia Airport.
James Allen, 25, of Northampton, England, arrived Sunday on the first flight to land at Baltimore's airport after its runway reopened from the last storm. He was visiting friend Julia Tracey, 25, a nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The two were at a downtown grocery store Tuesday searching in vain for fresh herbs for a recipe.
Allen had planned to stay in Baltimore for a few days, but "it's probably going to turn into a few weeks now."
In West Virginia, where 40 counties were under winter storm warnings, Gov. Joe Manchin urged people to make sure snow was cleared from roofs of public buildings to avoid a repeat of 1998, when roof collapses were blamed for at least three deaths.
At the National Mall in Washington, Miron Daniela of Bucharest, Romania, said she's used to the snow and this would be normal in her country.
On area residents dealing with the snow, she said, "From what I heard, they're very scared and it's too much for them."