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Fierce Winter Storm Hits Washington, Forces Schools, US Government Offices to Close

  • David Dyar

Road crews removing snow in the U.S. capital, 10 Feb 2010

Road crews removing snow in the U.S. capital, 10 Feb 2010

Most of the northeastern US ground to a halt as a huge winter blizzard struck vast areas of the region with high winds and record snow falls

Another fierce winter storm struck the U.S. capital Wednesday, closing schools and government offices, then moved north to Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City. Major airlines canceled most flights in and out of those cities. VOA's Carolyn Weaver reports on the snow and wind that are paralyzing much of the northeastern U.S.

In Washington, heavy snow and high winds virtually shut down the nation's capital. Snow removal crews worked to clear streets and sidewalks, and the federal government was closed for a third straight day. Some people who braved the elements couldn't believe the conditions. "I have never seen it this bad. I have been here (in Washington) for 20 years and never seen it this bad," one person said.

Snow crews worked around the clock in an attempt to clear streets. But it was still a difficult ride for drivers who ventured out. "Let me tell you the truth. You have got to have a four by four. If you don't have a four wheel drive don't even try (driving) because all the cars get stuck out there and they cannot go nowhere," another person said.

In New York, most of a light snowfall was only slush by mid-morning. Mayor Michael Bloomberg had already ordered public schools shut in anticipation of the heavy snow and winds expected later. Subway trains sped uninterrupted into Manhattan. At Times Square, where snow plows and trucks were being readied for the expected blizzard, taxi and bus traffic flowed at a normal rate. City transportation workers said the real storm was yet to come.

"Actually, this is the pre-storm. The actual storm starts at 4 o'clock. Eighteen inches," said one worker. When asked if he was going to be around, he said, "Yeah, till 12 o'clock at night. No seven o'clock, actually. All right - enjoy!"

Outside the United Nations, which was closed due to the storm, disappointed tourists from China contented themselves with taking snapshots. Libraries and courts also were closed, but most city offices remained open. So did the New York Stock Exchange, even as the sleet began to thicken and stick again to the ground. Reports predicted the blizzard would leave up to half a meter of snow on New York streets in the evening.

VOA's David Clements took a firsthand look at area roads in this special web-only video report.

Here is a slide show of pictures of the conditions in Washington, DC