Archive for Monday, February 8, 2010

‘Historic’ snow strands countless in Mid-Atlantic

February 8, 2010

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— Planes were grounded, trains stood still and Greyhound buses weren’t rolling in the Mid-Atlantic on Sunday, leaving stranded travelers wondering when they’ll be able to escape the icy, gray mess created by a major snowstorm.

Hundreds of thousands of homes were without power with temperatures below freezing all day, with utilities warning it could be days before it’s all restored. Plows had scraped down to bare pavement on some main thoroughfares while not touching streets in many areas buried by 2 feet or more.

In the nation’s capital, meanwhile, today will be another day for residents to get back to normal. The federal government made the decision to close agencies today, and many school districts across the region were giving students a snow day. For those stranded, however, the thought of another day of weekend wasn’t much to smile about.

Joel Jones of Durham, N.C., said he was on a bus from Baltimore on Friday. When he arrived in Washington, the rest of the trip was canceled. He walked to Union Station to get a train, where he has remained, sleeping on chairs.

“I’m starting to worry because I take insulin,” said the 41-year-old, who has diabetes. “I got enough for like one more shot, so I have enough until tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll get on the bus in the morning.”

The National Weather Service called the storm “historic” and reported a foot of snow in parts of Ohio and 2 feet or more in Washington, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Parts of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia got closer to 3 feet.

Many roads reopened but officials continued to warn residents that highways were still icy, a remnant from the storm President Barack Obama called “Snowmageddon.”

In Washington, the sun was finally shining Sunday and the sounds of shovels could be heard on streets. In contrast to Saturday, when people were frolicking on the barren streets, thoughts turned Sunday to cleanup.

The snow snapped tree limbs onto power lines, and several roofs collapsed under the weight.

Making matters worse, the weather service issued a storm watch for Tuesday.

In Philadelphia, 28.5 inches of snow fell during the storm, just shy of the record 30.7 inches during the January 1996 blizzard. Snow totals were even higher to the west in Pennsylvania, with 31 inches recorded in Upper Strasburg and 30 inches in Somerset.

Almost 18 inches was recorded at Washington’s Reagan National Airport, which had canceled all flights. That’s the fourth-highest storm total for the city, and airport officials haven’t decided when flights would resume.

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