Icy roads, spotty transit service follow East Coast blizzard
NEW YORK — East Coast residents who made the most of a paralyzing weekend blizzard face fresh challenges as the workweek begins: slippery roads, spotty transit service and mounds of snow that buried cars and blocked sidewalk entrances.
For many, the weekend extends into Monday because of closed schools and government offices. Officials were cautioning against unnecessary driving, even as they expected some commuter trains to be delayed or canceled.
The storm dropped snow from the Gulf Coast to New England, with near-record snowfalls tallied from Washington, D.C. to New York City. At least 31 people have died as a result of the snowstorm. The deaths occurred in car accidents, from carbon monoxide poisoning, and from heart attacks while shoveling snow.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin was on a rescheduled pre-dawn flight from Springfield, Illinois, to Chicago while on the way to Washington on Monday morning. The Illinois Democrat said he’s not even sure he’ll be able to get to D.C. today, but he’s been through this before.
“Most of us who spend part of our lives in Washington know to expect the worst when it comes to snow,” he said. “I knew the forecast was enough to cause a problem.”
At Philadelphia’s 30th Street station, Amtrak passengers juggled their travel plans and weathered any weather-related delays.
Pat Dougherty, a project manager for a construction management company, said he commutes daily to New York City from his home in suburban Philadelphia. He has never seen the line to board a train so long, because there were so many cancellations earlier. His 5:50 a.m. train on Monday had been canceled and he was waiting to board a later train.
“On days like this, it’s normal for everything to be screwed up,” Dougherty said.
Larry Davis was spending his birthday getting from Wilmington, Delaware, to Providence, Rhode Island, where he works in sales and marketing for a luxury brand. His flight was canceled so he took his rental car to the airport and took SEPTA to the train station.
“It was beautiful. Hopefully my trains will be on time,” Davis said. “I’ve done this commute for 10 years and every 25th flight or so goes wrong.”
The snow began Friday, and the last flakes fell just before midnight Saturday. In its aftermath, crews raced all day Sunday to clear streets and sidewalks devoid of their usual bustle.
Sunday’s brilliant sunshine and gently rising temperatures provided a respite from the blizzard that dropped a record 29.2 inches on Baltimore. The weekend timing could not have been better, enabling many to enjoy a gorgeous winter day.
It was just right for a huge snowball fight in Baltimore, where more than 600 people responded to organizer Aaron Brazell’s invite on Facebook.
But one day of sunshine wasn’t enough to clear many roads. Cars parked in neighborhoods were encased in snow, some of it pushed from the streets by plows. In downtown Philadelphia, some sidewalk entrances were blocked by mounds of snow.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged people to leave their plowed-in cars all week after a one-day record of 26.6 inches fell in Central Park.
Federal offices will be closed Monday, and Virginia’s state workers were told to stay home. Schools from Washington to the Jersey Shore gave students Monday off; In the D.C. suburbs, classes also were canceled for Tuesday.
New York’s transit authority said partial service on the Long Island Rail Road was restored on three of its 12 branches and diesel train service was operating on three other branches. The problems were due to switches and tracks that were refrozen overnight due to low temperatures. New York City subways, buses and Metro-North Railroad service were operating on a normal schedule Monday.
Broadway reopened after going dark at the last minute during the snowstorm, but museums remained closed in Washington, and the House of Representatives postponed votes until February, citing the storm’s impact on travel.
Flying remained particularly messy after nearly 12,000 weekend flights were canceled. Airports resumed limited service in New York City, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, which said it got an entire winter’s snow in two days. Washington-area airports remained closed Sunday after the punishing blizzard.
Major airlines also canceled hundreds of flights for Monday. Along with clearing snow and ice from facilities and equipment, the operators of airlines, train and transit systems had to figure out how to get snowbound employees to work.
Amtrak operated a reduced number of trains on all its routes, serving many people who couldn’t get around otherwise, spokesman Marc Magliari said. But bus and rail service was expected to be limited around the region into Monday.
Overall snowfall of 26.8 inches in Central Park made it New York’s second biggest winter storm since records began in 1869, and Saturday’s 26.6 inches made for a single-day record in the city.
Some of the blizzard’s heaviest snow bands wound up over New York City and Long Island, sending snow totals spiking higher than the 12-18 inches forecasters predicted Thursday.
Washington’s records were less clear. The official three-day total of 17.8 inches measured at Reagan National Airport was impossibly short of accumulations recorded elsewhere in the city. An official total of 22.4 inches landed at the National Zoo, for example.
The zoo remained closed through Monday but a video of its giant panda Tian Tian making snow angels got more than 48 million views. Joining the fun, Jeffrey Perez, of Millersville, Maryland, climbed into a panda suit and rolled around in the snow, snagging more than half a million views of his own.
Sisak reported from Philadelphia; Contributors include Associated Press writers Ashley Thomas in Springfield, Illinois; Ben Nuckols in Burke, Virginia; Bruce Shipkowski in Toms River, New Jersey; William Mathis, Scott Mayerowitz and Jake Pearson in New York; Alex Brandon and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington; Jessica Gresko in Arlington, Virginia; and Juliet Linderman in Baltimore.