Winter Storm In Eastern U.S. Buries Cities, Floods Coast, Kills At Least 29
Sunday, January 24, 2016
A massive snowstorm that affected most of the East Coast finally ended Sunday morning, leaving in its wake 1-3 feet of snow over major cities, at least 18 storm-associated casualties and severe coastal flooding.
While the snow has stopped, the weather warnings continue. High winds will create blowing and drifting snow in some areas, the National Weather Service warns. And while New York City lifted a police-enforced travel ban on Sunday morning, many authorities are asking citizens to refrain from driving for another day as efforts to clear off the roads continue.
The snowfall totals were striking, setting records in some jurisdictions. At the D.C. National Zoo, 22 inches of snow fell; at JFK airport in New York City, 30 inches; in the western suburbs of D.C., 36 inches were recorded; in Shepherdstown, W.V., more than 40 inches. The 26.8 inches recorded in New York's Central Park is the second-highest total ever recorded — falling short of the record by just 0.1 inches, CBS reports.
Farther south, the storm's greatest impact wasn't in inches of snowfall but quarter-inches of ice. Hundreds of thousands of people lost power as ice and high winds combined to rip down power lines, and many roads were made perilous by the icy conditions.
At least 29 deaths have been attributed to the storm by the Associated Press, including a Kentucky transportation worker who died while plowing highways, a teenager who was hit by a truck while sledding behind an all-terrain vehicle and two people who died of hypothermia in Virginia.
Most of the deaths were from car crashes on snowy or icy roads. Four were caused by overexertion while shoveling snow.
If you or someone you know is shoveling snow on Sunday, the National Safety Council has some tips on how to do so safely, including taking it slow and pushing, not lifting, the snow. Moving snow is serious physical exertion and people who don't do it frequently — no matter how healthy they are — can easily overexert themselves, the NSC says.
"A clear driveway is not worth your life," they note.
In addition to bringing large volumes of snow, the storm raised floodwaters along the coast. Roads have been closed and some areas have been evacuated, the Associated Press reports.
The National Weather Service had warned that the storm surge accompanying the snowstorm could be extremely damaging.
Officials from North Carolina to New York are concerned about the impact of the floods, the AP reports:
"In Delaware, flooding closed a popular route to the state's beaches and forced about a dozen people to leave the low-lying community of Oak Orchard. In Ocean City, Maryland, Delmarva Power cut electricity to hundreds of customers as storm surge flooding submerged equipment used to power the downtown area."
In some areas, the flooding has risen even higher than it did during Hurricane Sandy three years ago, Reuters reports. Record flooding has been recorded along the Jersey Shore and Delaware Coast, according to an NWS meteorologist.
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