Winter wallop pounds northeastern US

A major winter storm barreled through the northeastern United States Saturday, threatening to dump up to two feet (61 centimeters) of snow on the last weekend of the Christmas holiday shopping season.

In the bull's eye of the storm, Baltimore and Washington were on track to break record December snowfall, with one to two feet forecast by dawn Sunday, eclipsing Washington's 12-inch (30-centimeter) record in 1932 and Baltimore's record 14.1 inches (35.8 cm).

The Washington Post noted that double-digit accumulations were already being recorded in southern Virginia. Governor Tim Kaine earlier declared a state of emergency in Virginia.

Another eight to 14 inches (20-36 cm) of snow were expected to accumulate in New York by early Sunday.

Warnings were in effect along the Atlantic Coast, from North Carolina and Tennessee to New Jersey and Connecticut, with the storm pounding major cities, including Washington, Baltimore and New York, according to the National Weather Service.

Those cities were also under a blizzard warning, which leads to white out conditions that make travel dangerous.

President Barack Obama raced back to Washington to avoid the worst of the storm, and landed at Andrews Air Force Base shortly after 1:00 am (0600 GMT).

Several snowplows cleared the runway as Obama's blue and white Air Force One jumbo jet landed. He headed home after spending less than 24 hours in Copenhagen for crunch talks with world leaders on climate change that culminated with a draft deal to limit global warming.

Tens of thousands of people were momentarily in the dark in North Carolina, with power outages also affecting Virginia, according to The Weather Channel.

The National Weather service warned that weather conditions in the capital area - hit by blowing snow coupled with cold and windy conditions - made travel "extremely treacherous."

"Do not travel. If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle," it warned.

Snow was forecast to fall through Saturday afternoon before tapering off.

"You had to be very cautious," Maryland resident Mario Bruno told WJLA ABC7 News. "Windshield wipers are a big issue... You just need to be real careful."

Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty declared a snow emergency.

"All indications are this will be a major storm - perhaps the biggest we've seen in several years," he said in a statement. "And we are going to throw everything we have at it to keep the District open for business on this busy pre-holiday weekend."

The capital's bus system was experiencing major delays due to the heavy snow that blanketed roads, and was limited to snow emergency routes, while the Metrorail system planned to operate trains every 10 to 12 minutes.

The winter wallop could also take a bite out of retail sales on "Super Saturday," a major shopping day before Christmas.

In Washington and New York City, municipal authorities scrambled to obtain additional snow-removing equipment and salt to cope with the weekend snowstorm.

Flight cancellations and delays could knock out some of travelers' holiday cheer, with air travel likely to grind to a halt Saturday and early Sunday. Most airports in the northeast advised passengers to check their flight times well ahead of schedule.

Even with most flights in and out of the Washington area canceled for Saturday, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said its crews worked throughout the night to clear runways at Washington Dulles International Airport and Reagan National Airport.

Virgin America announced it had cancelled all flights to and from Dulles.

Economy carrier Jet Blue said it would waive changing fees and fare differences to allow customers to rebook their flights if they had plans to travel through Baltimore Washington International (BWI), Dulles, John F Kennedy International and other mid-Atlantic and New York area airports.

United Airlines, AirTran Airways and Delta Air Lines had similar arrangements.

Southwest Airlines said it had cancelled most of its flights to and from BWI until 2:00 pm (1900 GMT) and to and from Dulles until 4:00 pm (2100 GMT).

The storm system originated over the Gulf of Mexico, unleashing flash floods in much of southeastern United States. The rain turned to snow as the storm tracked northeastward into sub-freezing temperatures.

bur-oh/ach

 

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?