UK & World News

  • 22 January 2014, 5:24

Winter Blast As Snow Storm Hits US East Coast

A winter blast bearing down on the US Mid-Atlantic and Northeast has already resulted in thousands of flight cancellations and school closures.

The National Weather Service said the storm could bring nearly a foot of snow to Philadelphia and New York City, with even more forecast for Boston.

Bitterly cold air with wind chills as low as -23C (-10F) was forecast.

The storm stretched 1,000 miles between Kentucky and Massachusetts but was expected to hit hardest along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between Philadelphia and Boston.

The NWS warned of heavy winds and hazardous driving conditions as the storm moved up the coast.

The storm has been blamed for at least one deathin Maryland after a car slid into the path of a tractor-trailer on a snow-covered road about 50 miles northwest of Baltimore.

The car's driver was thrown from the vehicle.

Ralph Duquette kept close tabs on the weather because his wife needed to go to Washington's Dulles Airport for a flight to London.

But those plans were thrown into doubt when an 18-wheeler went into a ditch, hindering her route to the airport.

She was trying instead to get a flight out of Newark, New Jersey.

"Don't think she's going to get there," Mr Duquette said.

In Washington, the federal government closed its offices and workers were told to stay home.

Tom Ripley, who works at a Washington hardware store, said his morning commute was cut in half because "there was almost no one on the road".

He said the store was jammed Monday as customers stocked up on ice melt and shovels.

"Nobody prepares because we never get any snow, so the slightest chance of it, everybody freaks out," MrRipley said.

Nearly 3,000 flights were cancelled and thousands more delayed on Tuesday, with airports from Washington to Boston affected, according to flight-tracking site Flightaware.com.

An additional 885 flights for Wednesday were already cancelled.

Schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky stayed closed for an extra day after the Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday, or sent students home early.

Some parents kept their children at home even if their schools were open, unwilling to put them on slippery roads.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was forced to modify his schedule of inaugural events - cancelling an evening party on Ellis Island.

Standing in Philadelphia's Love Park with snow swirling around her, visitor Jenn Byrne said the weather had hit her plans to do a "giant walking tour" of the city.

But she vowed to soldier on, taking cabs instead of trudging.

"I'll keep going. Just the means of transportation will change a bit," she said.

The storm is the latest round of inclement weather to hit a large section of the US this winter.

Earlier this month, nearly 190 million Americans battled record-breaking cold as a blast of Arctic air moved across the country.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said on Tuesday it had already blown through more than half of its $189m(115m) winter weather budget.

"Lots of nuisance storms this season have meant that PennDOT crews have been ploughing and treating roads more frequently this winter," agency spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said.

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