Snowbound U.S. Northeast digs out again

The U.S. East Coast has began the all-too-familiar task of digging out, after a storm dumped more than 30 centimetres of snow in some areas overnight, heaping misery on a region that has been hit by one snowstorm after another.

At least 6 deaths blamed on storm

A pedestrian makes his way past piles of snow in New York's Times Square on Thursday. ((Mark Lennihan/Associated Press))

The U.S. East Coast began the all-too-familiar task of digging out on Thursday after a storm dumped more than 30 centimetres of snow in some areas overnight, heaping more misery on a region that has been hit by one snowstorm after another. 

The storm started Wednesday with an icy mix but overnight gave a wallop of heavy blowing snow in many places, stranding thousands of airplane passengers and leaving more than 300,000 customers in and around the nation's capital without power.

At least six deaths have been blamed on the storm, including a Baltimore taxi driver whose cab caught fire after getting stuck in the snow and people killed by snowplows in Delaware, Maryland and New York.

Public schools remained closed for a second day Thursday and motorists were warned of dangerous road conditions. In New York City, even the Statue of Liberty was closed for snow removal. New York's Long Island Rail Road, a commuter rail line that is nation's largest, was operating on a reduced schedule.

Flights were getting back up to speed at the area's major airports after many canceled hundreds of flights or closed altogether. New York's LaGuardia and Kennedy had reopened by midmorning, and passengers were flying out from Philadelphia and Washington-area airports.

In New York's Central Park, 39 centimetres had fallen as of 1 a.m. Thursday, and 48 centimetres had fallen in parts of New Jersey, the National Weather Service reported. Forecasts called for up to 30 centimetres in the Boston area, up to 51 centimetres in the Hartford, Conn., area and perhaps 36 centimetres in areas of Rhode Island before the storm moved on later in the morning. In the Philadelphia area, as much as 43 centimetres fell by the time the storm moved out Thursday morning.

Mountains of snow

In Portsmouth, N.H., workers were nearly out of room to stash their plowed snow. 

Pedestrians cross a slush and snow-covered L Street Northwest, during a major winter storm in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday night. ((Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press))

"We probably have a five-storey snow dump right now," said Portsmouth public works director David Allen. "It's time to get a lift up on it and we could probably do a ski run."  

Officials urged residents in Washington and Maryland to stay off the roads as snow, thunder and lightning pounded the Mid-Atlantic region. In D.C., Metro transit officials pulled buses off the roads as conditions deteriorated. Firefighters warned the heavy snow was bringing down power lines and causing outages.  

Since Dec. 14, snow has fallen eight times on the New York region — or an average of about once every five days. That includes the blizzard that dropped 51 centimetres on New York City and paralyzed travel after Christmas. When the snows arrived Wednesday, the city had already seen 91 centimetres of snow this season in comparison with the full-winter average of 52 centimetres.

The city declared a weather emergency for the second time since the Dec. 26 storm, which trapped hundreds of buses and ambulances and caused a political crisis for the mayor. An emergency declaration means any car blocking roads or impeding snowplows can be towed at the owner's expense.