US digs out from deadly storm, with more snow coming
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New York: The snow-weary eastern US was digging out from yet another mammoth storm on Friday, as the deadly weather crept through New England and eastern Canada and another storm approached.
US media counted up to 21 people dead as a result of the storm, which was blasting New England and eastern Canada with heavy snow and powerful winds, a day after plowing through southern and eastern US states.
One of the casualties was a 36-year-old pregnant woman, struck and killed by a snowplow in a New York parking lot. Her baby was delivered alive by Caesarean section but remains in critical condition.
The Canadian weather service predicted up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of snow in parts of eastern Canada, as flights were cancelled and roads closed on Friday.
Further south, the sun had come out, but roads were dangerously icy as commuters returned to their morning commute, after wet roads froze overnight.
A series of massive accidents blocked traffic on a major highway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Footage from traffic helicopters showed dozens of cars and trucks stuck in the pile-ups.
A state police trooper told the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper injuries had been reported, without giving further details.
There was to be only a temporary respite for some, with forecasters predicting yet more snow and wintry weather for the US east coast on Saturday.
Worst winter in decade
Thursday’s wintry weather shut down schools and offices along much of the east coast — including federal government operations in Washington.
But a decision to keep schools open in the country’s largest city, New York, has drawn fierce criticism for new Mayor Bill De Blasio.
There were reports of school buses colliding with cars — though no injuries — and less than half of New York’s 1.1 million students turned up.
But De Blasio defended the decision, saying many working parents depend on schools to provide a safe place for their children to learn and eat during the day, and noting that the city’s public schools have only closed for weather 11 times since 1978.
Meanwhile, thousands of travelers have been stranded amid flight delays and cancellations that are expected to last for several days as airlines scramble to clear a backlog.
Some 6,500 flights into and out of the US were canceled outright Thursday with a further 1,200 plus on Friday, and thousands more delayed, spelling misery for hundreds of thousands of passengers.
Nearly 800,000 homes and businesses lost power across 11 states along the eastern seaboard, with 340,000 outages in North and South Carolina, the department of energy said Thursday.
Broadcasters fell over themselves to find superlatives to describe the “historic” and “mindboggling” “Snowmaggedon.”
The storm is only the latest severe weather to hit the eastern United States in what was already the worst winter in 10 years.
But experts predicted it would have little long-term economic impact, because consumers would spend more in heating fuel, according to economic Doug Handler of IHS Global Insight. AFP