Blizzard cleanup keeps parts of Northeast shut down

Posted at 12:46 PM, Jan 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-25 12:46:25-05

Millions were making their way back to work Monday after a weekend snowstorm that socked the Northeast.

Here’s what you need to know:

• Washington’s mayor tells residents it will be days before snow removal is over.

• At least 27 people were reported dead as a result of the storm.

• Pooling water from melting snow could refreeze, complicating morning commutes in Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia.

• All three major New York-area airports were open, but hundreds of flights were canceled. Washington airports offered a limited flight schedule Monday.

• U.S. government offices in the Washington area remained closed Monday after the weekend storm, as did state governments offices in Maryland and Virginia.

• Public schools in Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia as well as some New Jersey and New York City schools remained closed.

The calendar may say Monday, but for lots of people along the East Coast, it’s another snow day instead.

Among those taking the day off while street crews, plow owners and enterprising teens clean up the mess left behind by the weekend blizzard: federal workers in the nation’s capital, state employees in Maryland and Virginia, plenty of private-sector employees and schoolkids all over the region.

“People are out having snowball fights, having a good time,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

It wasn’t all fun and games, of course.

Authorities in Washington and New York, where a travel ban was lifted Sunday, asked people to remain off the roads whenever possible to give crews space to clear off side streets and other locations still packed with snow.

Transit workers in New York struggled to get the Long Island Railroad back into operation, restoring service for about 80% of riders by Monday morning, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told CNN.

In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser warned residents of “several days of cleanup ahead of us.”

“Know that we’re going to be dealing with snow all of this week,” she said.

Three of the city’s six Metrorail lines remained out of service. All but one of the city’s Metro stations were to open by 11 a.m., with the remaining station opening soon after, according to city officials.

The city’s airports also slowly returned to life, with limited flight schedules.

And authorities warned residents about trying to shovel out, saying the stress of such exertion could bring on heart attacks.

“Some of our guys out there, they want to be Superman,” Rawlings-Blake said. “But they don’t have to be. They can be Superman 30 minutes at a time.”


At least 27 people died as a result of the storm — nine in New York, six in North Carolina, six in Virginia, and one each in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Washington.

Official tallies of deaths during the storm were higher, but CNN has not been able to confirm individual reports, and it was unclear if all of the reported fatalities were weather-related.

In New York, police reported Monday that a Staten Island man died after shoveling snow over the weekend. That brought the death toll in New York City to five, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. In Long Island’s Nassau County, police said four people died because of the storm — three after shoveling snow and a fourth hit by a snow plow.

The Pennsylvania death was a 56-year-old man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning after a snow plow buried his car, according to the Berks County Coroner’s Office. He was trapped for 45 minutes to an hour, according to witnesses.

In Washington, chief medical examiner Dr. Roger Mitchell Jr. said an 82-year-old man died while shoveling snow, the city’s first storm fatality.

Another snow-shoveling death with a Washington link: a U.S. Capitol police officer who died clearing snow at his Delaware home, according to a release from Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, a former member of the Capitol Police force.

“The message is, surrounding shoveling, to take breaks, to make sure that you hydrate, to make sure that you’re checking on your neighbors. Volunteer to shovel their walkway,” Mitchell told reporters.

The death toll increased early Monday when Ohio authorities said that an 18-year-old man died in a sledding accident Friday night.

Officials in New York and Baltimore also said there were reports of people dying while shoveling snow.

De Blasio said the blizzard will almost certainly rank among New York City’s “top five snowstorms” in recorded history in terms of snow accumulation.

Record snowfalls

One of the hardest-hit locales was Glengary, West Virginia, about 85 miles northwest of Washington, which preliminary figures show received 42 inches of snow.

Other notable snowfall totals came at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (31 inches), Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (29.2 inches, a record), Washington Dulles International Airport (28 inches), Newark, New Jersey (28 inches), New York’s Central Park (26.8 inches, the second-highest total since 1869) and Philadelphia (22 inches).

But snow wasn’t the only product of the storm. Dewey Beach, Delaware, and Virginia’s Langley Air Force Base both reported 75-mph winds, just over hurricane force.

The storm, which has moved into the Atlantic, is expected to reach Scotland by Wednesday. It won’t have the same impact it did on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, but high winds and waves are anticipated there, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.

Major flooding

In New Jersey, some residents said they were reeling from flooding worse than the devastation from Superstorm Sandy.

“There was much more water. … Everybody was affected. It was bad,” said Keith Laudeman, who owns a restaurant in Cape May, New Jersey.

Jason Pellegrini said he saw water rushing in from his home in Sea Isle City, New Jersey.

“I heard commotion out my window, and I looked and I saw the raging water,” he said. “It came in to the low-lying areas, and it rushed fast.”

In North Wildwood, the high tide was much higher than anticipated and caught many of the town’s 5,000 year-round residents off guard — with flooding levels that exceeded those during Sandy, said Patrick Rosenello, the city’s mayor.

“We had a lot of evacuations, a lot of people who had stayed in their homes not anticipating this, needing to be rescued,” Rosenello said.

Traffic a mess

Hundreds of motorists faced the storm’s wrath stuck on highways.

Road accidents Friday night caused a seven-mile backup involving around 500 vehicles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, a Pennsylvania State Police spokeswoman said.

The massive backup, which left some motorists stranded for almost 24 hours, spurred an apology Sunday from the turnpike’s chairman.

“I can promise you all that there will be a thorough analysis of the events that led up to this incident as well as a review of what occurred over the course of the last two and a half days,” Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chairman Sean Logan said in a written statement. “I want to be certain that we do a better job the next time something like this occurs, and that we can learn from this tragedy.”

In central Kentucky, some drivers were stranded along a 35-mile stretch of Interstate 75 for as long as 19 hours, from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning.

And as many as 200 vehicles were stuck on I-77 in West Virginia, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

Power outages and flight cancellations

Thousands of customers were without power as a result of the storm, most in North Carolina. La Guardia, Newark Liberty and Kennedy airports are open, but hundreds of flights were canceled Sunday and Monday, according to flight-tracking service

Impact in Asia

Record low temperatures also wreaked havoc in Asian countries, with 85 people reported dead in Taiwan and tens of thousands stranded at airports because of the unprecedented cold snap.

In South Korea, at least 90,300 saw their flights canceled over the weekend due to bad weather, and more than 10,000 travelers faced severe delays at Kunming Changshui International Airport in southwestern China.

Taiwan authorities advised people to stay indoors after the deaths, while in Hong Kong, teeth-chattering temperatures forced kindergartens and primary schools to close Monday.

China renewed an orange alert, its second-most serious weather warning, with major highways blocked by snow and sleet just as peak travel season for the Lunar New Year vacation kicks off.