East Coast commuters dodge tons of snow to get to work
New York — East Coast residents clobbered by the weekend blizzard trudged into the workweek Monday amid slippery roads, spotty transit service and mounds of snow that buried cars and blocked sidewalks after some cities got an entire winter’s snow in two days.
In Brooklyn, only one teacher at the Bedford-Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School called out, despite more than 2 feet of snow across New York City.
“A lot of teachers are taking the train instead of driving,” said Wanda Morales, director of operations at the school, standing outside while maintenance workers spread salt and parents dropped off their children.
In Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, there were signs of normalcy; shops were open, and main roadways were mostly cleared, dotted with large piles of snow. Matthew Mason, 29, was riding the train into Washington to go to his job at a hotel. The part-time law student said he figured he should be there, though things would likely be a little slower.
“I’ve sat in my house too much already,” he said.
Dave Lenowitz was perched on a snowbank in Philadelphia near what’s normally the stop for the bus that takes him to his job as the director of a nonprofit.
“Normally I bicycle, but it’s a little too slippery,” he said. “There’s not enough snow, otherwise I’d ski. It’s only seven miles.”
For others, the weekend extended into Monday because of closed schools and government offices. The storm dropped snow from the Gulf Coast to New England, with near-record snowfalls tallied from Washington, D.C. to New York City. At least 36 people died as a result of the storm, many of them car accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning or heart attacks while shoveling.
Flying remained particularly messy after airlines canceled nearly 12,000 weekend flights and hundreds more Monday. Airports resumed limited service in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia and in the Washington area. But delays reverberated around the country.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin was on a rescheduled pre-dawn flight from Springfield, Illinois, to Chicago while on the way to Washington on Monday morning. The Illinois Democrat said he’s been through this before.
“Most of us who spend part of our lives in Washington know to expect the worst when it comes to snow,” he said. “I knew the forecast was enough to cause a problem.”
Tom Aloi, who works in construction management, was at Chicago O’Hare trying to get back to New York City after a business trip to Germany. His rescheduled fight to Newark Liberty was already delayed several hours.
“Yes, we are frustrated. We are aggravated,” Aloi said. “It’s a ripple effect. It affects the whole world.”
In New York, Bret Mattingly, 23, was on his way to LaGuardia as classes were starting at Butler University, where he studies computer science. He came to the city to visit a friend on Friday.
“I was supposed to fly out yesterday but the flight was canceled,” he said. “I missed school.”
Amtrak operated a reduced number of trains, spokesman Marc Magliari said. But bus and rail service was expected to be limited around the region into Monday.
The snow began Friday, and the last flakes fell just before midnight Saturday. In its aftermath, crews raced all day Sunday to clear streets and sidewalks devoid of their usual bustle.
Sunday’s brilliant sunshine and gently rising temperatures that had snow and ice falling off skyscrapers in New York City as melting began, provided a respite from the blizzard that dropped a record 29.2 inches on Baltimore. It was just right for a huge snowball fight there, where more than 600 people responded to organizer Aaron Brazell’s invite on Facebook.
But one day of sun wasn’t enough to clear many roads. Cars parked in neighborhoods around the region were encased in snow, some of it pushed from the streets by plows.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged people to leave their plowed-in cars all week. Some didn’t have a choice.
“I cleaned this two or three times and they keep blocking me in,” Peter Quamina, 51, said as he shoveled out the front of his driveway in Brooklyn. “This storm was bad as we get.”
Federal offices were closed Monday, and Virginia’s state workers were told to stay home. Schools from Washington to the Jersey Shore gave students Monday off; In the D.C. suburbs, classes also were canceled for Tuesday. Schools were open in New York City.
New York’s transit authority said partial service on the Long Island Rail Road was restored on three of its 12 branches and diesel train service was operating on three other branches. New York City subways, buses and Metro-North Railroad service were operating on a normal schedule. The Metro in Washington was offering free rides on limited rail and bus service.
Broadway reopened after going dark at the last minute during the snowstorm, but museums remained closed in Washington, and the House of Representatives postponed votes until February, citing the storm’s impact on travel.
Overall snowfall of 26.8 inches in Central Park made it New York’s second biggest winter storm since records began in 1869, and Saturday’s 26.6 inches made for a single-day record in the city.
Washington’s records were less clear. The official three-day total of 17.8 inches measured at Reagan National Airport was impossibly short of accumulations recorded elsewhere in the D.C. area. An official total of 22.4 inches landed at the National Zoo, for example.
The zoo remained closed through Monday but a video of its giant panda Tian Tian making snow angels got about 54 million views.