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'Snowmageddon' slams D.C.; hundreds of thousands without power

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Hundreds of thousands without electricity from Virginia to Pennsylvania
  • NEW: Flights canceled at Washington-Baltimore area airports, as wells as Philadelphia's
  • NEW: 26.7 inches reported at the Philadelphia, airport by 1 p.m.
  • Delta joins Southwest, Amtrak in canceling services in the affected region

Washington (CNN) -- Close to 20 inches of snow piled up at the nation's capital as a blizzard pounded mid-Atlantic states Saturday, cutting power to hundreds of thousands in the region in what the president referred to as "Snowmaggedon."

Snow was falling from southern Indiana eastward to New York City, Washington, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the New Jersey coast.

President Obama kept to his busy Washington schedule amid the swirling flakes, and ditched "the Beast" -- his souped-up Cadillac limousine -- for an armored, four-wheel drive Chevy Suburban capable of trudging through the several inches of snow.

Despite plowing and shoveling, the continuous snow made for a slippery White House driveway. Before the 15-vehicle presidential motorcade pulled out of the driveway headed to the Capital Hilton for Obama's speech to democrats, one of the emergency vehicles lost traction and slid into an SUV. No one was in the car at the time. Flights canceled, highway crews mobilized

About 19.5 inches of snow fell at American University in Washington over two days, and was on track to possibly break a record. The capital received 28 inches of snow in the "Knickerbocker Storm" of January 27-28, 1922.

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The blizzard has left hundreds of thousands of customers from Virginia to Pennsylvania without power, utility companies said. As of 12 p.m., Dominion Virginia Power had restored electricity to 101,000 of 207,000 customers who were without power Saturday morning, the company said.

In Maryland and Washington, more than 104,000 Pepco customers were in the dark, the utility company said. The majority, or 81,324, live in Montgomery County, Maryland, and 9,587 live in Washington, according to Pepco.

In Philadelphia, a reported 26.7 inches had fallen at the airport by 1 p.m., the National Weather Service said.

"We are getting absolutely clobbered this morning with snow," said Steven Steingard, a lawyer who lives in suburban Philadelphia. "We have about a foot already and they say it will continue for 10 to 12 hours more."

The storm also may produce a record snowfall for Baltimore, which has 21 inches of snow so far, according to the National Weather Service. Virginia snowman is taller than a house

In College Park, Maryland, snow-laden power lines drooped onto branches, causing power failures. One city resident, Ben Hampton, told CNN he could could hear electrical transformers popping.

Annapolis, Maryland, had 18 inches of snow by Saturday. State officials at the briefing said 2,400 pieces of equipment were trying to clear highways. The state also was relying on 300 National Guard members to help with ongoing weather trouble. Check on traffic and road conditions

More than 750 personnel are clearing roads in Washington, Mayor Adrian Fenty said. But the heavy, wet snow has even trapped some plows, Washington Department of Transportation director Gabe Klein said.

Flights were canceled at Washington-Baltimore area's three main airports and at Philadelphia International Airport. Amtrak has canceled many trains in and out of Washington, and Greyhound has been halted until 1 p.m. Sunday, Klein said. Check on flight delays

On Friday, a weather-related accident in Virginia's Wythe County left two dead, state police said. A father and son stopped on a shoulder to help injured occupants of a disabled vehicle. Minutes later, a tractor-trailer jackknifed and struck their van while trying to avoid hitting the disabled car.

The father and son died at the scene, state police said.

Virginia state police said the accident was one of many crashes and disabled cars reported.

Winter storm warnings were in effect from southern Indiana eastward to New York City and south to North Carolina, with blizzard warnings for Washington, Delaware and the New Jersey coast. Are you snowed in? Share photos and videos

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell declared a state of emergency Friday night and ordered all vehicles off the roads by 10 p.m. ET.

Forecasters were predicting that the mountains of West Virginia and Maryland, west of the nation's capital, would receive the most snow -- possibly 3 feet.

CNN's Greg Morrison, Suzanne Malveaux and Angela Fritz contributed to this report.

 
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