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Winter storm paralyzes much of East Coast

Weather blamed for 20 deaths from Nebraska to New Jersey

A man digs a car out of snowdrifts Monday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
A man digs a car out of snowdrifts Monday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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A far-reaching winter storm dumped a thick blanket of snow onto New York City, snarling transportation and causing gridlock throughout the city. CNN's Jamie Colby reports (February 18)
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CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Daran Kagan and Patty Davis report on the massive snowstorm that blocked travel across the eastern seaboard (February 17)
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A deadly snowstorm pounded the mid-Atlantic and Eastern states Monday, piling up record snowfalls in some areas, shutting down airports, stranding holiday travelers and paralyzing transportation.

The storm has been blamed for 20 deaths since it swept through the Midwest on Friday and moved east.

U.S. government offices, closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday, will be shut down in the nation's capital again Tuesday because of the foot and a half of snow that blanketed the Washington area. Emergency services will be operating.

In Garrett County, Maryland, as many as 40 inches of snow covered the ground, the National Weather Service said.

In Berkeley Springs, in the northeastern West Virginia, 37 inches had fallen by mid-afternoon, the weather service said.

By day's end, more than a foot of snow was expected over much of New Jersey, southeastern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, Maryland, northern Delaware, southwestern Connecticut and northern Virginia.

John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City was buried under 25 inches of snow between midnight Sunday and noon Monday, said Michelle Margraf, a meteorologist with the weather service in Sterling, Virginia.

"That's an incredible amount; that's two inches per hour," the native Minnesotan said.

"People say, 'Oh, you're used to things like this.' But [in Minnesota,] we don't usually get that much snow in one day. It usually falls over the course of a winter."

The storm has affected even the meteorologists, said Margraf, 29, who slept in a weather service office Sunday night. The Sterling Fire Department ferried a number of other weather service workers to their jobs, she said.

Emergency conditions

A plow clears snow near the Southwest Airlines terminal at Baltimore Washington International Airport in Linthicun , Maryland, on Monday.
A plow clears snow near the Southwest Airlines terminal at Baltimore Washington International Airport in Linthicun , Maryland, on Monday.

Although the storm had largely abated in the Washington area by late Monday afternoon, New Yorkers were facing the prospect of more snow into Tuesday morning.

In New Jersey, 2,500 workers were using 2,000 pieces of equipment to clear highways, Gov. James McGreevey said.

In Baltimore, Maryland, the weather service recorded 26.6 inches of snow, surpassing the city's record snowfall of 26.5 inches in late January 1922.

In nearby Anne Arundel County, officials hired 25 drivers with front-end loaders at more than $100 per hour to join forces with the county's 18 front-end loaders, said Jody Couser, director of communications for the county. They were expected to arrive on flatbed trucks by 10 p.m. Monday.

Since Friday, the storm has been blamed for 20 deaths: two in Illinois, one in Nebraska, five in West Virginia, six in Missouri, one in Ohio, one in New Jersey and four in Iowa. Three of the deaths occurred Monday.

In Baltimore, the weight of snow caved in the roof of the historic Baltimore and Ohio Railroad roundhouse, built in 1884.

Another roof collapse, at a trade school in Edison, New Jersey, killed one man and injured four other people.

Winds in Boston, Massachusetts, reached 60 mph, and hit 40 mph in nearby Providence, Rhode Island.

New York City endured blizzard conditions, with 35-mph winds and heavy, blowing snow that reduced visibility to near zero. Forecasters said the city could receive up to 24 inches of snow, and the governor called out the National Guard. (Full story)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that the slow-moving system could bring winter precipitation to some areas for two or three more days.

"I am housebound. There is no point to shoveling the sidewalk ... the drifts are impossibly high and gusty," said Richard Freeman, an attorney who lives in west Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "So, I'm home working on the computer and watching 'The Asphalt Jungle,'" he added.

Travelers going nowhere

Heavy accumulations of snow shut airports, rail lines and bus stations, and flood watches were issued from northern Arkansas and Alabama through Tennessee and eastern Kentucky, according to the NOAA.

Thousands of airline passengers were stranded in Florida because their destination airports were shut down or backed up. (Full story)

Greyhound bus terminals affected by the storm were closed indefinitely, spokeswoman Kim Plaskett said. The terminals were selling food at wholesale prices to passengers, coordinating with the Red Cross to provide cots and, in some cases, allowing people to sleep on the buses.

At least 2,000 flight cancellations were blamed on the weather, leaving thousands of passengers curled up in airport chairs. (Full story)

LaGuardia, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport were closed. Washington Dulles International Airport was using only two runways.

National was expected to reopen at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Baltimore-Washington International was to reopen at 6 p.m. Monday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Service was not expected to return to normal until noon Tuesday at LaGuardia, where officials set up cots for stranded travelers; Philadelphia International Airport was to be back in business at 6 p.m. Monday.

Washington was slammed by 16.2 inches of snow, the sixth-largest storm in the capital's history, and the city declared a snow emergency before snowfall had stopped late Monday afternoon.

Residents of Silver Spring, Maryland, a Washington suburb, trudged through snow 25 inches deep.

Freezing rain caused hazardous traveling conditions in western and central Virginia. Officials declared states of emergency in West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

-- CNN producer Beth Lewandowski contributed to this report


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