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Snow, shovel, repeat: East Coast digs out again

People across the Northeast wearily shoveled their sidewalks and dug out their cars after getting clobbered by the latest in a seemingly never-ending string of snowstorms, this one an overachieving mess that packed more punch than anyone expected.
At least six deaths were blamed on the storm, including those of a Baltimore taxi driver whose cab caught fire after getting stuck in the snow and people hit by snowplows in Delaware, Maryland and New York.
In the Washington area, up to 7 inches (17 centimeters) of snow renewed memories of last year's "snowpocalypse" and created chaos when it hit the nation's capital at the height of the evening rush hour Wednesday, forcing commuters into treacherous, eight-hour drives home. Even the president got caught in traffic.
"I've lived in New York 70 years, and this year is the worst I remember," said Lenny Eitelberg, 77. "It's the continuity of it. It just keeps coming. Every week there's something new to be worried about. It's almost become comical."
New Yorkers, keeping close watch on the cleanup after a post-Christmas blizzard paralyzed the city for days, had it a little easier this time. The heaviest snow arrived overnight, when there weren't many cars and buses around to get stuck.
The forecast had called for up to a foot of snow, but the storm brought far more than that. New York got 19 inches (48 centimeters), Philadelphia 17 (43 centimeters). Boston got about a foot (30 centimeters), as expected. Many schools closed for a second day Thursday. Airports ground to a halt, and nearly a half-million people lost power at some point.
The federal government let 300,000 Washington-area employees go home two hours early on Wednesday, sending them straight into the teeth of the late-afternoon storm. Many people took more than eight hours to get home.
New York City typically gets 21 inches (53 centimeters) of snow a winter. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the latest storm makes this January the snowiest since the city started keeping records, breaking the mark of 27.4 inches (69 centimeters) set in 1925. The New York area has been hit with snow eight times since mid-December.
The city, slammed for its slow response to a big storm in late December, handled this one better. It closed schools and some government offices. Federal courts in Manhattan and the United Nations shut down as well. The Statue of Liberty closed for snow removal.
Bloomberg said the city benefited both from lessons learned, as well from the storm's timing. "This time people were already home by the time the snow really got bad," he said.
Still, the city wasn't hassle-free. Dozens of passengers spent the hours from 2 a.m. local time to 6 a.m. huddled in subway cars after their train got stuck at a Brooklyn station because of malfunctioning signals.
The airport serving Hartford, Connecticut got a foot of snow, bringing the total for the month so far to 54.9 inches (139 centimeters) and breaking the all-time monthly record of 45.3 inches (115 centimeters), set in December 1945.
In Massachusetts, travel was made trickier by high winds. Gusts of 46 mph (74.03 kph) were reported in Hyannis, 45 mph (72.42 kph) in Rockport and 49 mph (78.85 kph) on Nantucket early Thursday. In Lynn, Massachusetts, heavy snow collapsed a garage roof and briefly trapped two men.
The region's major airports slowly got back up to speed after canceling hundreds of flights or closing altogether. New York's LaGuardia and Kennedy had reopened by midmorning, and passengers were flying out from Philadelphia and Washington-area airports.
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Gresko reported from Washington. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Ben Nuckols in Baltimore; Ula Ilnytzky and Chris Hawley in New York; Jim Fitzgerald in White Plains, New York; Bruce Shipkowski in Toms River, New Jersey; and Dave Collins in Hartford, Connecticut.


Updated : 2021-01-28 14:40 GMT+08:00