New York travel ban lifted, Washington at standstill after storm

Reuters , Sunday 24 Jan 2016

New York
People take a walk in the snow in Central Park on January 24, 2016 in New York City. A massive blizzard that claimed at least 16 lives in the eastern United States finally appeared to be winding down Sunday, giving snowbound residents the chance to begin digging out. (Photo: AFP)

A travel ban for the New York area was lifted on Sunday but Washington was still at a standstill after a blizzard paralysed the northeastern United States, killing at least 19 people.

The storm was the second-biggest in New York history, with 26.8 inches (68 cm) of snow in Central Park by midnight on Saturday, just shy of the record 26.9 inches set in 2006, the National Weather Service said.

Thirteen people were killed in weather-related car crashes in Arkansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia on Saturday. One person died in Maryland and three in New York while shoveling snow. Two died of hypothermia in Virginia, officials said.

By early on Sunday the storm had moved off the coast, with remnants trailing over parts of Long Island and Cape Cod. Much of the northeast was expected to see a mix of sun and clouds on Sunday with temperatures just above freezing.

Washington streets were deserted early on Sunday, with major downtown arteries already cleared and lined with mounds of snow. Workers were clearing sidewalks and alleys, and Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a call for 4,000 people to help dig the city out, above the 2,000 volunteers already signed up.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which includes the second-busiest U.S. subway system, had suspended operations through Sunday.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted a travel ban on New York-area roads and on Long Island at 7 a.m. on Sunday. A state of emergency imposed by Cuomo was still in place.

Bridges and tunnels into the city also reopened, and subways running above ground were set to restart service Sunday morning. The Long Island Rail Road was still halted, and the Metro-North railroad would be fully operational by mid-afternoon, officials said.

The National Weather Service said 17.8 inches (45.2 cm) fell in Washington, tying as the fourth-largest snowfall in the city's history. Baltimore-Washington International Airport notched a record 29.2 inches (74.2 cm), and the deepest total was 42 inches (106.7 cm) fell at Glengarry, West Virginia.

Shows, Flights cancelled

A spokeswoman for the New York Stock Exchange said the bourse planned to open as usual on Monday.

About 3,750 flights were cancelled on Sunday, and 700 cancelled for Monday, according, the aviation data and tracking website.

Flights had begun landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport and would soon start taking off from the facility, Cuomo said in a news conference.

United Airlines said it would not operate at Washington-area airports on Sunday, and would gradually resume service on Monday. The airline plans to start "very limited operations" on Sunday afternoon at its Newark, New Jersey, hub.

About 150,000 customers in North Carolina and 90,000 in New Jersey lost electricity during the storm.

On the New Jersey shore, a region hard-hit in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, the storm drove flooding high tides.

They were expected to reach as much as 3 feet (91 cm) above normal across the New Jersey coast, said Mitchell Gaines, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"There's considerable danger with the tide coming up," he said.

Some residents had to be evacuated along the New Jersey shore on Saturday as waters rose. In the town of Wildwood, emergency workers in inflatable boats rescued more than 100 people from homes, said Fire Chief Christopher D'Amico.

On Sunday, moderate coastal flooding was still a concern in Atlantic County but a change of wind direction would make the impact less problematic than on Saturday, said Linda Gilmore, a county public information officer.

The storm developed along the Gulf Coast when warm, moist air from the Atlantic Ocean collided with cold air to form the massive winter system, meteorologists said.

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