January 27, 2011 in Nation/World

Winter weather again overwhelms East Coast

Karen Matthews Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Traffic creeps along Interstate 66 across the Potomac River from Washington, in Arlington, Va., after a major winter storm snarled rush hour traffic Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – Schools closed, governments sent workers home early and planes were grounded Wednesday in an all-too-familiar routine along the East Coast as another snowstorm swept over a region already beaten down by a winter not even half over.

“I fell three times trying to get off the steps,” commuter Elliott Self said after leaving an elevated train in Philadelphia. “I just want the snow to stop. I want the sun again. I want to feel just a little bit of warmth.”

Millions of people got that oh-no-not-again feeling as the wet and sloppy storm engulfed the Northeast, where snowbanks in some places were already so high that drivers couldn’t see around corners. In Washington, D.C., hundreds of thousands of customers lost electricity, as heavy snow toppled power lines.

Classes were called off and commutes snarled from Tennessee to New England as cars and buses slipped and slid on highways. The New York area’s three major airports saw more than 1,000 flights canceled.

Eight to 14 inches of snow was forecast for New York City, which had already seen 36 inches of snow this season in comparison with the full-winter average of 21 inches.

Rain drenched the nation’s capital for most of the day and changed to sleet before it started snowing in earnest at midafternoon. Washington was expected to get up to 10 inches of snow.

The snow and icy roads created hazardous conditions for President Barack Obama as he returned to the White House on Wednesday after a trip to Manitowoc, Wis. The wintry weather grounded Marine One, the helicopter that typically transports Obama to and from the military base where Air Force One lands. Instead, Obama was met at the plane by his motorcade, which spent an hour weaving through rush hour traffic already slowed by the storm. It normally takes the president’s motorcade about 20 minutes to travel between the base and the White House.

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