Here we go again, groans a battered East Coast
Another in a line of seemingly unending storms paralyzed the Northeast with heavy snow and sleet on Thursday, giving the winter-weary that oh-no-not-again feeling, while hundreds of thousands across the ice-encrusted South waited in the cold for the electricity to come back on.
At least 20 deaths were blamed on the treacherous weather, including that of a pregnant woman who was struck and killed by a mini-snowplow in a New York City parking lot as she loaded groceries into her car.
The sloppy mix of snow and face-stinging sleet grounded more than 6,500 flights and closed schools and businesses as it made its way up the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor, where shoveling out has become a weekly — sometimes twice-weekly — chore. Amtrak canceled some of its trains in the Northeast and the South and modified schedules for others.
In the Northeast, Interstate 84 in New York state between the Connecticut and Pennsylvania lines was closed to commercial traffic; tandem tractor-trailer trucks were banned from highways in Connecticut. Municipalities imposed parking and travel restrictions so roadways and streets would be clear for plowing.
In its icy wake, utility crews in the South toiled to restore electricity to more than 800,000 homes and businesses, mostly in the Carolinas and Georgia. Temperatures in the hard-hit Atlanta area, with more than 200,000 outages, were expected to drop below freezing again overnight.
Baltimore awoke to 15 inches of snow. Washington had at least 8, and federal offices and the city's two main airports were closed. The Virginia-West Virginia state line got more than a foot. New York City received nearly 10 inches, and parts of New Jersey had more than 11.
The Boston area was expecting 4 to 6, while inland Connecticut and Massachusetts were looking at a foot or more.
In some places, the snow and freezing rain eased up during the day, but a second wave was expected overnight into Friday.
In New York, Min Lin, 36, died when she was struck by a utility vehicle with a snowplow as it backed up outside a shopping center in Brooklyn. Her nearly full-term baby was delivered in critical condition via cesarean section.
No immediate charges were brought against the snowplow operator.
In Bonneau, S.C., Jimmy Ward and his wife, Cherie, lost power and spent Wednesday night in their home, warming themselves in front of a gas log fire.
But after running low on propane, they headed for a hotel.
“From 2 o'clock yesterday until this morning, it just sounded like gunfire — all the trees popping and falling,” Cherie Ward said.
In North Carolina, where the storm caused huge traffic jams in the Raleigh area on Wednesday as people left work and rushed to get home in the middle of the day, National Guardsmen in high-riding Humvees patrolled the snowy roads, looking for any stranded motorists.