A winter storm that brought snow and ice to the East Coast moved offshore Friday after causing at least 25 deaths, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and causing a large pileup in Pennsylvania that injured 30 people.
The latest go-round of bad weather came just in time to delay tens of thousands of deliveries of Valentine's Day flowers, dropping snow, sleet and rain on roads already covered with deep puddles and icy patches.
Alexander Baez, 24, spent two hours digging out his car before navigating snow-covered roads to his job as a judicial marshal. "It will be a long, slow commute," Baez said as he filled his tank at a gas station in East Hartford, Conn. "I can't wait until the summer comes."
Traffic accidents involving multiple tractor-trailers and dozens of cars completely blocked one side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike outside Philadelphia on Friday morning and injured 30 people, none seriously. The crashes were reported about five hours after snow ended. Speed restrictions enacted during the storm had been lifted, but motorists say the roadway was coated with ice.
By the time it stopped falling, 57 centimetres of snow was reported in Somerset County, Pa. Parts of upstate New York got between 30 and 68 centimetres of snow.
The sloppy mix of snow and face-stinging sleet grounded more than 6,500 flights nationwide on Thursday and about 2,100 more on Friday. About 1.2 million utility customers lost power as the storm moved from the South through the Northeast, dropping to about 450,000 outages by Friday morning, mostly in South Carolina and Georgia.
"Every time it snows, it's like, `Oh, not again,"' said Randal DeIvernois of New Cumberland, Pa., which had about 25 cm of snow by midafternoon Thursday. "I didn't get this much snow when I lived in Colorado."
Many schools remained closed Friday in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York state, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia, while some in Rhode Island opened late.
The treacherous weather was blamed for more than two dozen deaths, many of them in motor vehicle accidents.
The snow, sleet and ice that bombarded the Southeast on Wednesday brought its ferocity into the Northeast on Thursday and Friday.
Washington, D.C., received 23 cm of snow Thursday, Westminster, Md., reported 48 cm and Newark, Del., had 35 cm. New York City received nearly 25 cm, and parts of New Jersey had more than 28 cm.
Some parts of northern New England got more than 45 cm.
In New York, the teachers union and TV weatherman Al Roker harshly criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision Thursday to keep schools open. Roker, who was in Russia for the Winter Olympics but has a daughter in New York's public schools, said on Twitter: "It's going to take some kid or kids getting hurt before this goofball policy gets changed."
He largely stood by his criticism on Friday but apologized on NBC's "Today" show for a tweet forecasting "one term" for de Blasio, saying that was "below the line."
The mayor said many parents depend on schools to watch over their children while they are at work and keeping the schools open was the right decision.
Across the South, the storm left in its wake a world of ice-encrusted trees and driveways and snapped branches and power lines.
In South Carolina, about 228,000 homes and businesses were without power Friday, and officials warned it could be next week before it is restored for everyone. Gov. Nikki Haley planned to visit Aiken and Walterboro to look at some of the most heavily damaged areas.
Nationwide, this is shaping up as one of the snowiest winters on record. As of early this month, Washington, Detroit, Boston, Chicago, New York and St. Louis had gotten roughly two or three times as much snow as they normally receive at this point in the season.