WASHINGTON – The U.S. east coast braced for a new major winter storm Tuesday after record snowfall left thousands of people shivering in the dark without power, transportation paralyzed and the federal government shut down.
The US capital remained Monday largely snow-locked, while many local governments, businesses and schools were also shuttered across the mid-Atlantic region.
The National Weather Service issued a 30-hour winter storm warning beginning midday Tuesday for Washington, Maryland and parts of Virginia, saying it expects another 10 to 20 inches (25-50 cm) of snow to slam the area.
"The combination of snow and strong winds will make travel very hazardous," said the NWS in its advisory.
The extra squall would be on top of more than two feet (0.6 m) of snow around metropolitan Washington and Baltimore, and also comes after the massive December storm that dumped some two feet (61 centimeters) of snow in the area: meaning the region is coming up on the other historic seasonal totals.
With this season's total so far at 45 inches (114 cm), according to NWS figures, more snowfall in the coming days could peak out the 1995-96 season's 46 inches (116.8 cm) and the all-time deepest snow dump of 1898-99, at 54.4 inches (138 cm).
Washington residents struggled Monday to get to work, slipping on icy sidewalks and spinning wheels on snow-trapped cars, as hundreds of emergency personnel battled to clear roads of snow.
"This snow is so deep and so heavy that the traditional snow plows can't shovel in some areas. So bulldozers are physically having to lift it up and away," Laura Southard from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management told AFP.
Roofs collapsed under the weight of the white stuff, including at a firehouse in northern Virginia and a hangar for private aircraft at Dulles International Airport.
Many of those without power gathered in restaurants and coffee shops on major avenues where power often was restored first. Some residents of suburban Washington spent two days huddled at businesses, unable to go home.
Downtown Washington was not as hard hit by power outages but public transportation remained snarled.
But local officials warned that snow plows might not even get to many smaller streets before the second storm hits.
"This is really challenging for us, and will continue to be a challenge for most of the week," said Southard.
Even though the blizzard has moved away, unmasking a bright blue sky, it continued to take victims.
Two men were found dead in a car Sunday in the town of Bladensburg, Maryland, The Washington Post reported. Authorities believe they suffered carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of sitting in a closed vehicle without ventilation.
Six other people who appeared to be victims of carbon monoxide poisoning were rescued Sunday at a house in the Washington suburb Oxon Hill, the paper said.
The culprit appeared to have been a gasoline generator used inside a house after the power went out.
The deepest snow left by "Snowmageddon" was in the small town of Colesville, central Maryland, which was buried in 40 inches (101 centimeters) of snow, the National Weather Service said.
Service slowly resumed to Metro trains, although above-ground rail travel remained suspended, depriving people in the suburbs of their main means of commute. Bus service was cancelled, and then began operating on a limited schedule.
Washington's Reagan National Airport was closed for snow and ice removal, and then reopened facing flight delays. Other local airports were open, but officials warned many flights may be canceled or delayed.
But life was gradually returning to normal as residents dug out cars and cleared driveways. Some stores and coffee shops reopened after a rare shutdown.
Boris Ruhadze, 24, was stuck at the International House of Pancakes in Rockville, Maryland from Friday afternoon when the storm started until Monday morning.
"We slept on the benches in some of the booths, in a part of the restaurant they closed off. The line was out the door on Friday, and even worse on Saturday as people lost power," Ruhadze said.
© AFP 2013