Big chill brings Washington to its knees
Friday 21 January 1994
Already at least 93 people have died - compared with 47in the Los Angeles earthquake - in the seven days of ice and snow which started to hit the north and east of the country last Friday. In parts of Michigan the temperature fell to minus 52 degrees Fahrenheit. States of emergency were declared in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.
In Washington snow began to melt earlier in the week then, when it suddenly got colder, covered streets and pavements with a coat of lethal ice. The capital is not used to bad winter weather and the city government was slow to put down sand and salt.
Schools closed but businesses stayed open. The Potomac Electric Power company, which supplies the capital, found offices were sucking in massive amounts of power to keep warm. At the same time people who stayed at home with their children were turning on the lights and using more heat.
By Wednesday the power and gas companies warned of a catastrophe unless demand dropped. Offices in central Washington were asked by power companies 'to drastically cut back electricity use to prevent widespread, uncontrollable outages in the region'. Rolling power cuts had already started affecting 20 million to 30 million people.
Later that night, as fresh snow began to fall, the mayor, Sharon Pratt Kelly, declared a state of emergency and ordered all non-essential businesses to close.
Meanwhile, police in Manassas, in Washington's north Virginia suburbs, have shown a firm sense of priority by ensuring that, whatever happens, sheriff's deputies pick up the jury in the Lorena Bobbit trial from their homes every morning and deliver them to court.
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Scottish independence: Despite defeat history may still point to Alex Salmond as the victor
Scottish independence referendum: Frankie Boyle reacts to nation's 'No' vote - 'To be fair, I've always hated Scotland'
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish referendum: Police struggle to control Unionist rally in Glasgow's George Square
Glasgow 'riots': 'Dishonest' social media users accused of fuelling panic with pictures from London riots
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...
£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...