WASHINGTON - The second major snowstorm in less than a week battered the East Coast from Washington to New York on Wednesday, forcing the closure of government agencies and the United Nations.
The storm shut down cities across the Northeast as the National Weather Service predicted snow totals of up to 14 inches in New York and Washington, 20 inches in Baltimore and up to 19 inches in Philadelphia.
The United Nations said its New York headquarters would be closed on Wednesday due to the storm.
Government offices in Washington will be closed on Wednesday for the third straight day at a cost of some $100 million in lost productivity per day.
State offices in five major Pennsylvania cities were ordered closed, and Maryland and Massachusetts government offices were shut down, with only emergency and essential personnel required to report for duty.
Forecasters were predicting strong winds that could cause additional power outages.
Residents were still trying to dig out from record snowfalls of 18 to 32 inches last weekend from Washington to southern New Jersey.
Some tried to restock refrigerators from crowded and depleted supermarkets, while others tried to clear fallen trees before the new storm arrived.
Forecasters said the storm, which has been dubbed "Snoverkill" and "Snomageddon 2.0," would be packing strong winds that could cause additional power outages in a region already reeling from a major weekend snowstorm.
Residents were still trying to dig out from record snowfalls of 18 to 32 inches from Washington to southern New Jersey. Some tried to restock refrigerators and clear fallen trees before the new storm arrived.
Schools were closed across much of the region, and many canceled classes for the rest of the week. Even the battle-tested New York public school system said it would shut down.
The bus system in the Washington said it would not operate on Wednesday. The region's subway was only operating on the underground section of the system.
The cold weather helped push heating oil futures higher. Approximately 4,500 customers were still without power in the Washington area, according to reports by the area's three main electric companies, Pepco, Dominion and BG&E.
"I LOVE IT"
"I love it. I can handle one more round," said government lawyer David Kaplan, 50, as he shoveled snow off his roof on Tuesday in Takoma Park, Maryland, just outside Washington. He spent the past few days sledding and building a luge run in his yard.
But Kaplan also said he spent a fair amount of time shoveling his driveway and roof. "It's hard work and I hope never to do it again," he said.
The U.S. House of Representatives canceled votes for the week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would not be in session on Wednesday but would resume work on Thursday. He said he doubted the Senate would have any votes this week. Many congressional hearings were also called off.
AMR Corp's American Airlines canceled Wednesday flights in and out of Washington's three area airports as well as Philadelphia. Late flights on Tuesday also have been nixed so that planes are not stranded in the snow, the airline said.
Carriers also once again relaxed their ticket policies to allow passengers to change flight plans around the storm. Both moves could cloud the outlook for an industry already hard hit by the battered economy.
US Airways canceled its hourly shuttle service between Washington and New York for Wednesday while Amtrak passenger rail service warned of limited service along its lucrative Northeast corridor.
The storm left a battered Midwest in its wake, with canceled flights in Chicago and up to 17 inches of snow in Iowa, one of the largest hog-producing states. The marketing of hogs was disrupted, helping Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures to rise to their highest level in six months.
"This snowy weather creates miserable conditions for livestock in feedlots," said Harry Hillaker, an Iowa state climatologist. "It is difficult to get feed to them and to keep water lines from freezing."
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