Northeast digs out from blizzard; new storm brews in Plains

February 10, 2013

The Northeast continued digging out Sunday after a blizzard dumped up to 40 inches of snow with hurricane-force winds, killing at least nine people and leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

New York City trucks plowed through residential streets, piling snow even higher at the edges and leaving thousands of motorists to dig their buried vehicles out from mountains of snow.

“I give up,” Giovanni Marchenna, 52, of Manhattan said with a laugh.

“Looks like I’ll be taking the subway to work until the snow melts,” he added, noting that he spent more than an hour shoveling snow.

On Monday, additional severe weather may bring more misery, with freezing rain and more snow predicted that would make the trip home for evening commuters even more difficult.

“It will make it a little more hazardous and a little more slick on the roads,” said Kenneth James, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Maryland.

In Boston, Mayor Tom Menino canceled school Monday after touring neighborhoods throughout the city, where two feet of snow fell.

“Our number-one priority today is getting to the side streets,” he said, adding that it was the fifth-deepest snowfall ever in the city.

Utility companies reported that about 350,000 customers were still without electricity across nine states after the wet, heavy snow brought down tree branches and power lines. About 700,000 homes and businesses were without power at one point Saturday.

Air traffic began to return to normal Sunday after about 5,800 flights were canceled Friday and Saturday, according to Flightaware, a flight-tracking service.

Rare travel bans in Connecticut and Massachusetts were lifted but roads throughout the region remained treacherous, according to state transportation departments.

Many residents were digging out their cars and driveways under clear blue skies Sunday afternoon.

As the region recovered, another large winter storm building across the Northern Plains was expected to leave a foot of snow and bring high winds from Colorado to central Minnesota into Monday, the National Weather Service said.

South Dakota was expected to be hardest hit, with winds reaching 50 mph, creating white-out conditions. The storm was expected to reach parts of Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming and Wisconsin.

South Dakota officials closed a 150-mile stretch of Interstate 90 in the center of the state. They also closed 75 miles of Interstate 29 in the state’s northeastern corner near North Dakota.

Officials said motels and other facilities along I-90 were filling up with travelers trying to avoid the heavy drifting and near-zero visibility.

“Travel will be difficult to impossible at times on other highways in many areas of South Dakota,” state transportation officials said in a statement.

The storm contributed to at least five deaths in Connecticut and two each in New York state and Boston, authorities said. A motorist in New Hampshire also died when he went off a road but authorities said his health may have been a factor in the crash.

The two deaths in Boston were separate incidents of carbon-monoxide poisoning in cars, an 11-year-old boy and a man in his early 20s. The boy had climbed into the family car to keep warm while his father cleared snow. The engine was running but the exhaust was blocked, said authorities.

There were also road rescues along the Long Island Expressway from Friday night to Saturday morning, some using snowmobiles. A baby girl was delivered early Saturday by emergency services personnel in Worcester, Mass.

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