Snow flakes are stuck to windows after a blustery snowstorm inside Washington DC Beltway in Annandale, Virginia, January 23, 2016. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

Snow flakes are stuck to windows after a blustery snowstorm inside Washington DC Beltway in Annandale, Virginia, January 23, 2016. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

By Barbara Goldberg and Idrees Ali

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A winter storm dumped nearly 2 feet (58 cm) of snow on the suburbs of Washington, D.C., on Saturday before moving on to Philadelphia and New York, paralyzing road, rail and airline travel along the U.S. East Coast.

At least 10 states declared weather emergencies, aiming to get a handle on highways made impassable by the drifting snow and to shore up coastal areas where the blizzard conditions raised the danger of flooding.

High winds battered the region, reaching 70 miles per hour in Wallops Island, Virginia, late on Friday, said meteorologist Greg Gallina of the National Weather Service.

High tides washed through the streets of Jersey Shore towns, mixing with snow and pooling in driveways, televised images showed. Video footage on CNN showed water pouring into downtown Margate, New Jersey, near Atlantic City, an area still recovering from Superstorm Sandy three years ago.

The heaviest snow was engulfing New York City on Saturday but was expected to ease by early afternoon, though not end until Sunday.

At least six people were killed in car crashes due to icy roads in North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The worst appeared to be over for Washington, although moderate snow was expected to keep falling until late Saturday, with the deepest accumulation of 23 inches recorded in Poolesville, Maryland, north of the nation’s capital.

RECORD STORMS

“Records are getting close – we’re getting into the top five storms,” Gallina said.

The record high of 28 inches (71 cm) of snow in the nation’s capital was set in 1922 and the deepest recent snowfall was 17.8 inches in 2010.

Many stores were left with bare shelves as residents stocked up on food, water and wine, preparing to spend the weekend indoors.

The governors of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Delaware, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and the mayor of Washington, declared states of emergency. Officials warned people not to drive.

The storm developed along the Gulf Coast, dropping snow over Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky on Friday. On the East Coast, warm, moist air from the Atlantic Ocean collided with cold air to form the massive winter system, meteorologists said.

The storm was forecast to move offshore in southern New England early next week. Philadelphia and New York were expected to get up to 18 inches of snow before the storm abated.

Low-lying areas of New York and New Jersey might see flooding during high tides on Saturday and Sunday, officials said.

More than 4,200 U.S. flights were canceled on Saturday, most of them at airports in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, according to tracking website FlightAware.com.

Amtrak modified service on train routes along its busy Northeast Corridor and New Jersey Transit shut all bus, rail and light rail service early on Saturday and said it would restore service as “conditions permit.”

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which includes the country’s second-busiest subway system, took the rare step of suspending operations from late Friday through Sunday.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles and Barbara Goldberg and Frank McGurty in New York; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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  • Brownies girl

    I just spoke with my brother, the long-distance trucker, who’s pulled in for the night on Interstate 79, about 200 miles north of the North Carolina border — trucks are jack-knifed all over the place, the plows have left piles of snow 15 feet high, turn-offs are impassable with stuck cars everywhere. He’s found a parking spot to leave the truck, gonna go get supper and hunker down for the night. John’s almost 70 – and he told me “I never saw anything like this before, ever — this is my last winter, so help me — time to retire!” He has 400 miles to go tomorrow to get to his destination, hopefully it’ll get warmer and some of this snow will melt a bit. Then he’s coming home with another load, maybe by Tuesday night, if all goes well.

    Meantime, here in Toronto, no snow, no winds, just placid raccoons and squirrels in the backyard, along with a calm windless -15C – glad we’re missing this snowstorm, tho lord knows, we’re due for a big one before winter’s over. Good luck, Eastern America, Washington and New York — hope you fare well!

    • JSpencer

      glad we’re missing this snowstorm, tho lord knows, we’re due for a big one before winter’s over

      I’m about 5 hours west of you, and we’re due for one too, but if we get a pass this winter I won’t complain!

  • Bob Munck

    A winter storm dumped nearly 2 feet (58 cm) of snow on the suburbs of Washington, D.C.,

    Thirty-four inches out here in Haymarket, 33 miles due west of the Washington Monument. That’s rather more than “nearly 2 feet.” There’s a lot of drifting and we’ve yet to see a snowplow, so I doubt we’ll be out before Tuesday. The wine situation may become desperate; we’ve taken 48 cases down to the new house in NC, leaving us with only about half of the cellar. … Well, that may suffice.

    The sky is clear now and the (full) moon is very bright. The ISS has just risen above the NW horizon, out my front window. According to the NASA tracking site, it’s passing over Newfoundland.

    • SteveK

      Both your attitude and your preparations are to be commended Bob though we in Arizona (full timers & snowbirds alike) can’t figure out why (except for job demands) you do this to yourselves year after year.

      Different strokes for different folks I guess… Take care. 🙂

    • JSpencer

      No blizzard for Scott Kelly! He sure got a good view of it though.

    • moonlitknight

      Also in Haymarket Bob. Although I live in the woods northwest of the town itself. I don’t have the slightest idea how much snow I got. There was a place on my porch the wind cleared down the the concrete but on the west side of my truck there is almost 4 feet of snow. Luckily I have a neighbor that is a landscaper and he cleared about 80% of my steep 500 foot long gravel driveway. That last 20% is still proving to be a formidable task.

  • KP

    I can no longer watch CNN.

    If another person in a $900 jacket steps outside and walks in a bit of snow I am going to gag.

    Reminds me of reporters in San Diego saying they “it is raining and they can see water in the gutters and cars are using their windshield wipers”.

    STOP!!