Epic snowstorm leaves US East Coast paralysed

Washington, Jan 23 (IANS) A monster snowstorm clobbered the US East Coast from Washington to New York leaving major cities, railways and airports immobilised with the American capital right in the bull’s eye buried under mounds of snow.

Up to 85 million people are in the storm’s path that has left at least 10 people dead nationwide. Over 160,000 homes in 13 states are without power and over 9,290 flights were cancelled from Friday, according to various media reports.

Hundreds of motorists from Kentucky to Pennsylvania were stranded on icy inter-states. Nearly a 1,000 traffic crashes and 800 disabled vehicles were reported in Virginia alone.

Eleven states — Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia — declared states of emergency. Washington has declared a “snow emergency”.

Dubbed “Snowmageddon 2016”, the storm has already surpassed the one in February 2010 when 17 inches of snow fell on Washington and it looked like topping the calamitous “Knickerbocker Storm” of 1922, which dumped 28 inches on the capital.

The weatherman offered no hopes of a letup warning of 18-40 inches of snow in some areas with 55 miles per hour (88 km per hour) wind gusts possible in Norfolk, Virginia.

Snow arrived in Washington on Friday afternoon and quickly intensified, with a depth of two feet possible by the time the last flakes fall on Saturday night, according to city Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Public transportation in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., was shut down as officials called on residents to hunker down and stay off the streets for a second day.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the expected snowfall for parts of his state has been upped “to about 16 to 24 inches”.

While things are “so far, so good”, Cuomo said Saturday morning “conditions will start to deteriorate” once the centre of the storm hits New York City around 11 a.m.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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