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Winter Storm Blankets, Bogs Down Northeast US

  • Reuters
  • VOA News

The Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool are visible behind Claudia Marusanici as she makes her way towards the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, March 5, 2015, in the falling snow.

The Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool are visible behind Claudia Marusanici as she makes her way towards the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, March 5, 2015, in the falling snow.

A treacherous winter storm reaching from Texas to New England closed schools, cancelled more than 4,000 flights and stranded hundreds of drivers overnight in Kentucky, where as much as 23 inches (58 cm) of snow fell.

A Delta Air Lines plane arriving in heavy snow at New York's LaGuardia Airport from Atlanta slid off the runway into a fence and was hanging over the water surrounding the airport. No serious injuries were reported.

Cancellations were announced for hundreds of school districts, government offices and legislatures in the District of Columbia, New Jersey, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency on Thursday.

"Help is on the way," Kentucky National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Kirk Hilbrecht, interviewed on CNN, told drivers stuck overnight in their cars on I-65 and I-24.

The National Guard was deployed to rescue the motorists, taking them to warm shelters and giving diabetic travelers insulin, Hilbrecht said.

Besides the cars, at least 200 tractor trailers were stuck on the impassable roadway, said Kentucky State Police Trooper Jeff Gregory.

Kaleigh Birman said she was headed from Michigan to Florida for a spring break holiday with her family when her carload of six people and two dogs got stuck overnight on I-65.

"We swerved in and out of parked cars," Birman told Reuters in a Twitter post, noting that the accumulation became so heavy it forced her car to a standstill, too. "I'm pretty sure everyone is running out of gas."

National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Orrison said Kentucky was buried under snow, with 23 inches reported in Baizetown and more than a foot falling elsewhere in the state.

Alex Flores (L) helps his friend Taylor Riggs (R) free up his truck from the snow in Lexington, Kentucky, March 5, 2015.

Alex Flores (L) helps his friend Taylor Riggs (R) free up his truck from the snow in Lexington, Kentucky, March 5, 2015.

Slick travel conditions were reported throughout the Ohio River Valley and surrounding states, and one person was killed in a vehicle crash in Dickson County, Tennessee. In Dallas, a man who was outdoors photographing the snowfall was shot to death, but there were no arrests and no known motive, police said.

Parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio recorded as much as 11 inches (28 cm) of snow, and freezing rain glazed Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, the weather service said.

After moving out of Kentucky, the storm bore down on West Virginia and northern Virginia, pelting New York City, Long Island and the southern parts of New England.

A total of 4,316 U.S. flights for Thursday were cancelled, according to FlightAware.com, with airports in Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia and the New York metropolitan area hardest hit.

Boston might not get any snow from the newest storm, the weather service said. Only two more inches would break the city's record annual snowfall total of nearly 108 inches, which was set in the year that ended in June 1996.

'Sled-in' on Capitol Hill

Dozens of people staged a “sled-in” on Capitol Hill on Thursday during a late-winter snowstorm, ignoring a police ban on sledding on the grounds of the white-domed symbol of U.S. democracy.

Sledding has been prohibited on Capitol Hill for security reasons since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. U.S. Capitol Police said recently they would enforce the ban.

Details on the “sled-in” were posted on a Change.org petition after District of Columbia Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton's request for a four-day waiver to allow sledding was denied. Before the ban, the Capitol grounds had long been a site for sledding.

The snowstorm drew dozens of Washingtonians to Capitol Hill, with children racing down the slope on sleds and adults sliding in snowpants.

Former Senator Christopher Dodd and family were among those defying the ban.

"I served in the Senate 30 years, and five years ago I liberated the Hill. They wouldn’t allow anyone to sled, and I came over and got permission from the police to drop their ban," he said with a smile.

"I”m no longer in the Senate so I have absolutely no authority whatsoever. So this is just raw civil disobedience," said Dodd.

"My children were very reluctant about this. They didn’t want to bring the sled over. They didn’t want to be arrested, they said, so I came over to support their civil disobedience. I took one slide down the hill.

"Do you appreciate the benefits of civil disobedience?" one of the daughters was asked.

Watch video of sledding-ban civil disobedience:

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