Millions of Americans prepare to dig out after blizzard dumps tons of snow across Northeast, leaves at least 25 dead

City leader provides update on the aftermath of Winter Storm Jonas


Millions of Americans are preparing to dig themselves out Sunday after a monstrous blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-setting snowfall paralyzed the East Coast.

New York City and Baltimore were expected to lift travel bans early in the morning, which barred nonemergency vehicles from the roads. Mass transit systems that were brought to a standstill were scheduled to run again as well. The Washington, D.C. metro system is set to reopen Monday morning.

The travel ban imposed on New York City travelers was lifted at 7 a.m. Sunday morning, according to police. In Baltimore, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake urged residents to remain off the road while work crews clear streets.

Airports around the Washington, D.C. area were likely to remain closed Sunday as United Airlines said limited service might begin later in the afternoon in New York City. Other airlines started to cut Monday service in addition to the some 7,000 flights that have already been canceled due to the storm.

The brutal blizzard brought D.C. and New York City to an icy halt, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow and stranding tens of thousands of travelers. At least 25 deaths were blamed on weather-related incidents, resulting from car crashes, shoveling snow and hypothermia.

One of those killed was US Capitol Police Officer Vernon Alston, 44, who died of a heart attack while shoveling snow at his home, the department said in a statement. Alston served honorably with the force since 1996.  

The snow dropped 26.8 inches in Central Park, the second-most recorded since 1869. The snowfall narrowly missed tying the previous record of 26.9 inches set in February 2006. The snow finally stopped falling in New York City around 10 p.m. Saturday night, though authorities insisted people stay indoors and off the streets as crews plowed deserted roads and police set up checkpoints to catch violators.

The storm dropped snow from the Gulf Coast to New England, with areas of Washington surpassing 30 inches. The heaviest unofficial report was in a rural area of West Virginia, not far from Harpers Ferry, with 40 inches.

"This is kind of a Top 10 snowstorm," said weather service winter storm expert Paul Kocin, who co-wrote a two-volume textbook on blizzards.

The usually bustling New York City looked more like a ghost town. With Broadway shows dark, thin crowds shuffled through a different kind of Great White Way, the nickname for a section of the theater district. And Bruce Springsteen canceled Sunday's scheduled show at Madison Square Garden.

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In Washington, monuments that would typically be busy with tourists stood vacant. All mass transit in the capital was to be shut down through Sunday.

Seventeen-year-old Alex Cruz, helping a neighbor shovel snow Saturday in Silver Spring, Maryland, couldn't help but notice the emptiness.

"It's like living out in the middle of Wyoming," he said.

Throughout the region, drivers skidded off snowy, icy roads in accidents that killed several people Friday and Saturday. Those killed included a 4-year-old boy in North Carolina; a Kentucky transportation worker who was plowing highways; and a woman whose car plunged down a 300-foot embankment in Tennessee. Three people died while shoveling snow in Queens and Staten Island.

An Ohio teenager sledding behind an all-terrain vehicle was hit by a truck and killed, and two people died of hypothermia in southwest Virginia. In North Carolina, a man whose car had veered off an icy-covered road was arrested on charges of killing a motorist who stopped to help.

In Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, drivers were marooned for hours in snow-choked highways.

Seaside towns in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland also had to deal with serve flooding. New Jersey shore towns seemed to have suffered through the brunt of the storm.

The first round of New Jersey flooding came with the Saturday morning tide. Water began overflowing into streets in some towns into Saturday night. A string of resort towns was temporarily isolated Saturday morning by floodwater that inundated homes and restaurants.

"A lot of properties have water in them. But it may not be until later Sunday that they can assess the damage," said Diane Wieland, a spokeswoman for Cape May County.

Gale warnings are in effect through Sunday morning along the North Carolina coast, the National Weather Service said, with winds of 30 mph expected along with rough seas.

Officials in New Jersey were assessing damage caused by the flooding. Firefighters went into a flooded area of Sea Isle City to battle a blaze at another restaurant that may have been linked to the high waters.

Stranded travelers included Defense Secretary Ash Carter, whose high-tech aircraft, the Doomsday Plane, couldn't land at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland after returning from Europe. Carter was rerouted to Tampa, Florida.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.