WASHINGTON – Hundreds of emergency crews were on Monday battling to clear snow-clogged roads and restore power to thousands of homes across the east coast before a new storm hits.
But despite their best efforts, the capital remained largely paralyzed, with the federal government saying it would be closed for at least one more day and scores of schools and local businesses remaining shut.
An early morning freeze on Sunday which turned partially-cleared roads into icy skating rinks, gave way to warmer temperatures helping the big melt to get under way, but officials warned travel was still hazardous.
"This is really challenging for us, and will continue to be a challenge for most of the week," said Laura Southard from the Virginia emergency management center, noting that another storm is due to hit the mid-Atlantic region late on Tuesday.
With record snowfall of more than three feet (a meter) in many places after a monster blizzard swept across Virginia, Maryland and the US federal capital city, bulldozers were hard at work.
"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," Southard told AFP.
Even though the blizzard has moved away, it continued to claim victims.
Two men were found dead in a car on Sunday in Bladensburg, outside Washington, The Washington Post reported.
Authorities believe the two may have suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of sitting in a closed vehicle without ventilation.
In addition, six people who appeared to be victims of carbon monoxide poisoning were found on Sunday at a house in the Washington suburb of Oxon Hill, the paper said.
The family appeared to have brought a gasoline generator inside the house after the power went out.
The record snowfall for a storm dubbed "Snowmageddon," was registered in the small town of Colesville in central Maryland, which was blanketed by 40 inches (101 centimeters), the National Weather Center said.
Virginia police had turned out to more than 4,370 calls, with most being traffic crashes or stranded cars.
"Progress is being made, but it's going to take a couple more days at least, but even then we can't make any promises," Southard added.
Hundreds of thousands of people spent a chilly night with candles and hunkered under blankets without power, although crews working round-the-clock did manage to restore electricity to many homes.
But by late Sunday more than 100,000 customers remained without power in the metropolitan area.
Many residents across the region were beginning to try to dig out cars, and clear paths, while officials warned not to let children play in the huge piles left by snow plows in case drivers failed to spot them.
In another sign that life was beginning to get back to normal, some stores and coffee shops began to reopen after a rare shutdown.
Reagan domestic airport was still closed and there was little likelihood of flights out of the international airports at Baltimore, or Dulles, bogged down by a record 32.4 inches (82 centimeters) of snow.
Schools were to remain closed on Monday and Tuesday across most of the region as were local government offices across a swath of northern Virginia and Maryland.
It was the second massive storm to hit the region -- in December, another snow storm covered the region with some two feet of snow.
And forecasters warned yet another front was moving across from the west coast, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a winter storm watch around the capital from Tuesday afternoon.
"We are getting a lot of winter fatigue around here now," McDonough told AFP ruefully, as he pulled up outside his snow-bound driveway after a 24-hour shift.
© AFP 2013