Big storm snarls Northeast
By DAN GELSTON and MICHAEL RUBINKAM
PHILADELPHIA -- A plodding storm that dumped heavy snow on the unsuspecting Mid-Atlantic region left roads slippery and slushy in the Northeast for today's commute while travel disruptions continued rippling across the country days after the same system first began wreaking havoc in the skies.
The storm that coated parts of Texas in ice struck with unexpected force Sunday on the East Coast, blanketing some spots in a foot of snow, grinding highways to a halt, causing power outages, and closing schools or delaying start times. The federal government was allowing workers to arrive up to two hours later than normal today or take unscheduled leave as freezing rain fell.
"Getting snow and ice off the car was the hardest thing," said Brian Holmes, 63, Alexandria, Va. "I couldn't find my scraper. I had to improvise with my broken snow shovel."
In Washington, cab driver Mahdi Abdi said he had been driving since midnight, and the main roads were clear. But side streets were a different story.
"The small streets, a lot of them are icy," said Abdi, 52. "I don't even go in."
The storm canceled more than 2,800 flights Sunday and delayed thousands more, according to estimates from the website Flightaware.com.
More than 1,200 flights today already were canceled, the greatest share from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which still was reeling from the effects of the ice storm that brought North Texas to a standstill. Approximately 650 people were stranded there Sunday night, down from Friday night when 4,000 travelers were stranded, airport spokesman David Magana said.
The forecast for today remained up in the air for the Northeast, depending on how quickly the system moves and temperatures rise, according to the National Weather Service.
The expectation overnight was for another weather system moving out of Virginia to follow the same path as Sunday's storm. It was forecast to dump icy drizzle and eventually freezing rain through the New York City area and into Boston, National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Heavener said.
Indeed, slippery conditions were reported overnight in the New York City area: One crash involving about 20 vehicles closed southbound lanes of Interstate 95 in Greenwich, Conn., for a couple of hours. No serious injuries were reported.
Forecasters said air travel would likely remain a hassle, too.
"I think the further north you look, departures and arrivals could be affected because of icy issues," Heavener said.
What was forecast in the Philadelphia area to be a tame storm with about an inch of snow gradually changing over to rain mushroomed into a full-blown snowstorm. A foot of snow was reported in Newark, Del. Philadelphia International Airport received 8.6 inches, more than it had all of last year. Other areas received far less: a little more than an inch was reported in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, which usually is hit harder than downtown Philadelphia.
Sunday's snow fell so heavily in Philadelphia that yard markers at Lincoln Financial Field -- where the Eagles beat the Detroit Lions -- were completely obscured. It was almost as bad in Pittsburgh, where the snow intensified after the opening kickoff.
Philadelphia fan Dave Hamilton, Ivyland, Pa., layered up for the game in Eagles gear.
"Twenty-seven years I've been a season-ticket holder, I've never seen snow at the game like this," he said. "It just kept coming down."