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Travel chaos as blizzards hit eastern United States


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Travel chaos as blizzards hit eastern United States


Blizzards are sweeping north along the eastern coast of the US, forcing the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights and disrupting rail and road traffic.


The winter storm has closed airports, stranding thousands of people in the busy post-Christmas travel period. The New York area was in the storm's bull's eye, receiving up to 51cm (20in) of snow, and even more in some areas.


Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia declared emergencies. The National Weather Service said the monster snow storm was the result of a low pressure system which originated off North Carolina and is currently intensifying near Cape Cod, Massachusetts.


It said a full-blown blizzard - meaning winds of at least 35mph (55km/h) along with snow and low visibility - was pummelling southern New England and the New York City area. Blizzard warnings remained in effect for coasts of the northern mid-Atlantic states as far as Maine. Officials in eastern Canada said they were also bracing for the storm.


The southern states of Georgia and South Carolina had their first white Christmas in more than a century. But Washington DC escaped the blizzard, with only a dusting of snow. The timing of the snowstorm meant disruption for many thousands travelling after Christmas reunions and hampered the start of the shopping sales season and the return to work for many commuters.


Announcing a state of emergency in Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick warned that the storm was "expected to produce widespread heavy snowfall, periods of zero visibility, high winds, power outages, coastal flooding, and beach erosion", reported AFP news agency.


Power had already reportedly been cut to tens of thousands of homes in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. All three airports serving New York - JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International Airport - were closed on Monday morning.


Passengers camped out on floors in terminals. Flights were also cancelled at other airports across the north-east, with airport authorities expressing hope that flights could resume on Monday afternoon or Tuesday.


In New York City, some 2,400 street cleaners are working 12-hour shifts to clear the snow from the city's 6,000 miles of roads - but inhabitants were advised to stay at home anyway. "I understand that a lot of families need to get home after a weekend away, but please don't get on the roads unless you absolutely have to," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Amtrak announced it was cancelling rail services from New York to Maine as well as in Virginia, after earlier doing the same for New York City-Boston services.


New York's Long Island Rail Road remained suspended and many bus routes serving the east coast were also cancelled. The conditions were blamed for a car crash in Maine in which a 59-year-old man died, and for stranding two buses carrying some 50 passengers on a New Jersey motorway. State troopers carried water and food to some of the passengers who are diabetic.


Stranded cars were hampering the efforts of snow ploughs and ambulances, but passengers on one bus have been rescued and an operation was under way to free passengers aboard the other.



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A proper weather bomb.


It's the fourth nor'easter we've had this month, and every one of them has been worse than usual. We're used to them here in eastern Canada, but the damage this time round has been a little bit insane- lots and lots of flooding all over the place, roads and bridges washed out, and now a ton of snow before some places could even get their basements pumped out from the last one.


Of course Halifax being Halifax, we only got about 3 inches of snow before the blizzard turned into really heavy rain. Everywhere else got dumped on. They had snow way down in Pennsylvania and NYC right on the coast. They had snow in Maine. It was all snow just a little bit north of us. But here? Rain. As usual. :dozey:

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