Northeast Digs Out From Record Snowfall

Road crews scrambled to clear streets and some city commuters had longer delays than usual Monday while the Northeast tried to dig out from over two feet of snow.

As trains and buses tried to get up and running, utility workers were restoring power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses along the Eastern Seaboard left in the dark from the record-setting storm. Winds gusting up to 50 mph knocked down power lines.

The storm blanketed the East Coast from North Carolina and Appalachians from western North Carolina to Maine over the weekend, dropping 26.9 inches of snow Central Park — the heaviest snowfall since record keeping began in 1869. The old record was 26.4 inches in December 1947, the National Weather Service said.

While the storm was bad, it would have been worse on a weekday.

"The headache has been minimized because it happened on a Sunday," Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Maloit said. "It was good timing for a storm of this magnitude."

In Fairfield, Conn., 30.2 inches of snow fell. Rahway, N.J., got 27 inches, according to unofficial observations reported to the National Weather Service. Just west of Philadelphia, 21 inches of snow were recorded in West Caln Township; the average snowfall for an entire winter in Philadelphia is about 21 inches. Wilbraham, Mass., east of Springfield, reported 22 inches and some areas of the state had 3-foot drifts.

As far south as the mountains of western North Carolina, Robbinsville got 20 inches of snow and drifts up to 6 feet high closed the Cherohala Skyway, a scenic route through the area to the Tennessee line. Light snow continued falling in that area Monday.

Northern Virginia collected up to 15 inches and the Massanutten ski resort in the Shenandoah Valley had 12, its biggest snowfall this year. "It's the best advertising we can't purchase," said Steven Showalter, general manager of the resort's ski area.

Philadelphia public and parochial classes were canceled Monday, as were schools were closed from West Virginia to Massachusetts. New York City public schools were open, although some in Long Island and private schools were closed.

Children were thrilled to dig out their sleds, little-used this winter until now.

"We're hoping for 365 days off from school," said 9-year-old Reagan Manz, playing in Central Park with friends. "We could go sledding the whole time and not get bored."

Boston's Logan Airport was playing catch-up trying to get delayed flights off the ground. The National Weather Service said 17.5 inches of snow fell at the airport. Boston's snow emergency that had been in effect since early Sunday expired at 7 a.m.

All three major New York-area airports — Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark — had reopened with limited service by Monday morning. A Turkish Airlines flight skidded off a runway at Kennedy as it landed Sunday at 9:20 p.m., but none of the 198 passengers was injured, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The airport closures and grounded planes stranded travelers across the country. About 7,500 people were stuck at Florida's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, spokesman Steve Belleme said.

"Our car's in Newark. We can't even get close to there," said Maria Martinez, whose flight from Miami International Airport was canceled. "We can't even get to Philadelphia or D.C."

Some passengers also were stranded on the Long Island Rail Road, where trains got stuck on snow-covered tracks, officials said. One train was marooned for five hours. Amtrak had numerous cancellations, including six of its Acela Express and Metroliner trains in the Northeast corridor.

"Usually the trains never stop. It's never been like this," said Rebecca Karpus, who was waiting to return home Monday morning on the Long Island Rail Road after being stranded at Penn Station since 6:30 p.m. Sunday. "It's really paralyzed us."

Many sidewalks still were not shoveled early Monday morning and walkers waited for buses and made their way to work in the street.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said 2,200 snow plows and 350 salt spreaders were working to clear the city's 6,300 miles of streets by Monday's rush hour. He said 2,500 Department of Sanitation employees were working in 12-hour shifts, and temporary workers were being hired at $10 an hour to shovel snow.

In New Jersey, state highways were in good shape Monday, thanks to 1,200 workers who responded to the storm. Officials had warned that the wet weather and low temperatures overnight could make for icy conditions on the roads.

Joe Orlando, spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, said light traffic Monday morning was helping keep major highways free of delays. Many schools closed due to the weather and some offices were closed because of Lincoln's Birthday.

"It's amazing. Twenty-four hours ago we were still facing the brunt of the storm and now most people drove to work completely unimpeded," Orlando said.

New Jersey Transit also reported that its services were largely functioning as normal. Spokesman Dan Stessel said no services had been completely canceled, although the shuttle that runs between Princeton and Princeton Junction was replaced with bus service and there were delays of up to 45 minutes on the Morristown line west of Summit.

"Generally, across the rest of the system everything is running on or close" to schedule, Stessel said.

NJ Transit was honoring tickets across all its services all day so, for example, commuters who normally take buses could opt instead for trains, he said.

The storm knocked out power across the Northeast, most severely in Maryland, where more than 150,000 customers were blacked out. More than 55,000 Baltimore Gas & Electric Company customers remained without power late Sunday, and officials said it would not likely be fully restored until Tuesday. "We're just going to have to continue to attack it," said spokesman Rob Gould.

Main roads in Maryland were reported in good shape for the Monday morning commute.

"We had 99 percent of everything down to bare pavement by early afternoon yesterday," said Dave Buck, at the State Highway Administration's emergency operations center. However, secondary and minor roads were still ice-covered and are going to be "crunchy and treacherous this morning," he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.