Major snowstorm sweeps across Eastern US

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

A major winter storm, which has been nicknamed by some as "Snowmageddon", has pummeled parts of the U.S. Middle Atlantic region, dumping up to 19 inches (50 centimeters) of snow in some parts of the Washington area.

The National Weather Service is predicting as much as 24 to 30 inches (60 to 75 cm) of snow for the Washington, D.C. region by late Saturday. The storm brought high winds and low visibility, with winds gusting at 56 miles per hour (93 kilometers per hour) along the coast.

Life in the nation's capital ground to a halt with the federal government and most businesses closing early on Friday and residents warned to stay off the snow-clogged roads. Hundreds of thousands of homes were without power as the wet snow weighed heavily on trees and power lines. Power lines in some areas have been brought down by the heavy snow.

The Weather Service issued blizzard and winter storm warnings for states reaching from Virginia and West Virginia up to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Forecasters say this could be the largest recorded snowfall in Washington, rivaling a storm, known as the Knickerbocker Storm, that hit the city nearly 90 years ago, in January 1922. The largest amount of snowfall recorded so far has been in Elkridge, Maryland, reporting 32 inches (81 cm). The 1922 storm was named the Knickerbocker Storm for a theater where 98 people were killed when the building's roof collapsed due to heavy snow. Snowfall in that storm measured 28 inches (71 cm).

Airlines and airports across the region have canceled flights and train service has been disrupted. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport suspended flight operations for the day while nearby Washington Dulles International Airport reported only a few international flights would be departing. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport reported most flights were canceled. Flights at Philadelphia International Airport are also canceled.

Amtrak announced that it was canceling a number of trains between Washington and New York City, along with service from Washington to cities in the south. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, known as the Metro locally, has suspended bus service and above ground train service. Underground subway service is running at 30 minute intervals.

As the storm approached, residents emptied supermarket shelves, stocking up on food and other supplies, especially due to Super Bowl XLIV which will be held on Sunday. Local area sports teams in Washington, D.C. will still play games as scheduled. People are urged to take the Metro to see the games and not use the roads. Impromptu snowball fights have also broken with some people going as far as to organize them over Facebook and Twitter.

The winter weather has already been blamed for hundreds of road accidents. So far two fatalities have been reported, a father and son who were rendering aid to a stranded motorist on Interstate 81 in Virginia, when an approaching tractor-trailer jackknifed and killed the pair.

This is the second major snowstorm to hit the region in less than two months.

In pictures

Satellite image of storm from February 6
Image: NOAA GOES 12.

Cars covered by snow near the end of the blizzard, Pentagon City, Arlington, Virginia.
Image: Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz.

Snow falling on the 1600 block of 19th Street, N.W., in the Dupont Circle neighbourhood of Washington, D.C.
Image: AgnosticPreachersKid.
A broken awning and window at Diego's Hair Salon, located in The Moorings in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Image: AgnosticPreachersKid.
A snow-covered alley, located behind Connecticut Avenue, N.W., in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Image: AgnosticPreachersKid.
The 1800 block of Q Street, N.W., in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. A fallen tree, lying on top of a vehicle, is visible in the background.
Image: AgnosticPreachersKid.
In Ephrata, Pennsylvania, 16 inches of snow had fallen by 8:30 AM EST on February 6.
Image: Killervogel5.
File:IMAG00502.jpg In Gaithersburg, Maryland, 24 inches of snow had fallen by 10:00 AM EST on February 6.
Image: Nachomanin2010.
Pentagon City Mall, Arlington, Virgina, near the end of the North American Blizzard of February, 2010
Image: Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz.
Snow falling in the park located in the center of Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.
Image: AgnosticPreachersKid.



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