Another Snow Blow Slams Northeast

Jenifer Lagerquist digs her car out of the snow near her home in Somerville, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, where a foot of fresh snow fell on top of piles left from two recent storms. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds) AP

Updated 8:14 p.m. ET

NEW YORK - Enough already.

People across the Northeast wearily shoveled their sidewalks and dug out their cars - again - after getting clobbered by the latest in a seemingly never-ending string of snowstorms, this one an overachieving mess that packed more punch than anyone expected.

"I've lived in New York 70 years, and this year is the worst I remember," said Lenny Eitelberg, 77. "It's the continuity of it. It just keeps coming. Every week there's something new to be worried about. It's almost become comical."

Photo Gallery

There is little relief in sight, CBS News Correspondent Elaine Quijano report. Meteorologists say another major winter storm is brewing and could hit the northeast by this time next week.

At least six deaths were blamed on the storm, including those of a Baltimore taxi driver whose cab caught fire after getting stuck in the snow and people hit by snowplows in Delaware, Maryland and New York.

In the Washington area, one person died after a tree fell on a pickup truck. Several others in the truck were injured. On New York's Long Island, there were two weather-related fatalities. One woman was killed when a plow truck backed into her in a parking lot. In the other incident, a motorist slid into oncoming lanes of traffic, slamming into two vehicles before hitting a snowbank. The other two drivers were treated for injuries.

In Delaware, state police were investigating the death of a woman who was struck and killed Thursday by a state Department of Transportation snowplow. In Maryland, police said a longtime Johns Hopkins University fencing coach walking in the roadway was killed in a hit-and-run collision with a pickup truck with a snow plow.

In Somers, Conn., a horse had to be euthanized after part of a barn collapsed under the weight of snow. Two other horses that got trapped were freed.

In the nation's capital, up to 7 inches of snow renewed memories of last year's "snowpocalypse" and created chaos when it hit at the height of the evening rush hour Wednesday, forcing commuters into treacherous, eight-hour drives home. Even the president got caught in traffic.

New Yorkers, keeping close watch on the cleanup after a post-Christmas blizzard paralyzed the city for days, had it a little easier this time. The heaviest snow arrived overnight, when there weren't many cars and buses around to get stuck.

The forecast had called for up to a foot of snow, but the storm brought far more than that. New York got 19 inches, Philadelphia 17. Boston got about a foot, as expected. Many schools closed for a second day Thursday. Airports ground to a halt, and nearly a half-million people lost power at some point.

Clearing all the roads over and over and over again is getting expensive. CBS News' Whit Johnson reports more than four feet of snow in 30 days is enough to weaken even the toughest of cities. Boston's snow removal budget is nearly $16 million, but it's not even February and two thirds of the money is already spent.

States' Snow Budgets Melting Away

Virginia Sforza, 61, was indignant as she shoveled her sidewalk in Pelham, outside New York City.

"My biggest fear is if it continues like this all winter, we won't have a place to put it and we'll never get our cars out and we won't even be able to go to the stores," she said. "We had a year like this back in the '90s, but I was a lot younger. The prospect of this continuing is disgusting."

Washington-area residents, who had largely been spared heavy snow this winter after getting buried by a series of storms last year, lamented this year's encore. Around 300,000 people lost power, and motorists abandoned cars by the hundreds when pressing on proved fruitless.

In Maryland, jackknifed tractor-trailers and other stuck vehicles blocked roads and impeded snowplows.

"That's the nightmarish situation that we've been dealing with as quickly as we can," Gov. Martin O'Malley said.

Logan Nielson, 31, who works in advertising in San Francisco, described a harrowing 60-mile drive from Dulles Airport in northern Virginia to his hotel in Baltimore. What should have been no more than a two-hour trip became a nine-hour ordeal.

"It was a nightmare. ... We would sit there for 30-minute periods, not moving," he said. "You don't know: 'Am I stuck here for three hours? Am I stuck here till tomorrow?'"

After arriving Wednesday night in Washington from Manitowoc, Wis., President Obama couldn't fly on the helicopter that normally takes him to the White House from a nearby military base. Instead, a motorcade had to snake through the crippled rush-hour traffic.

The federal government let 300,000 Washington-area employees go home two hours early on Wednesday, sending them straight into the teeth of the late-afternoon storm. Many people took more than eight hours to get home.

The men's basketball team from Maryland's Towson University got stuck in traffic just a few miles from its game at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. The team eventually checked into hotel rooms in nearby Manassas around 1 a.m. - six hours after the scheduled tipoff. The game was rescheduled for Thursday.

Two freshmen recruited from Florida marveled at the scene, never having seen a snowstorm cripple an entire region.

"I couldn't believe it. People were getting out of their cars" in the middle of the Capital Beltway "and stopping to clear the snow off their windows," said guard Dre Conner, a native of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.

Even old hands marveled at the continuing power of this winter, whose endless snowstorms are being helped along by a cold-air phenomenon off the coast known as the North Atlantic Oscillation.

After digging out his driveway for the "umpteenth time" and knocking some large chunks of ice off his car, Joel Davis stood outside his home in Toms River, N.J., and wondered when he would ever see his lawn again.

"I like the snow and I expect to get some living here, but this is nuts," he said. "I can't remember the last time everything wasn't snow-covered. We didn't get a white Christmas, but it seems that it's been white ever since."

New York City typically gets 21 inches of snow a winter. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the latest storm makes this January the snowiest since the city started keeping records, breaking the mark of 27.4 inches set in 1925. The New York area has been hit with snow eight times since mid-December.

The city, slammed for its slow response to a big storm in late December, handled this one better. It closed schools and some government offices. Federal courts in Manhattan and the United Nations shut down as well. The Statue of Liberty closed for snow removal.

Bloomberg said the city benefited both from lessons learned, as well from the storm's timing. "This time people were already home by the time the snow really got bad," he said.

Still, the city wasn't hassle-free. Dozens of passengers spent the hours from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. huddled in subway cars after their train got stuck at a Brooklyn station because of malfunctioning signals.

The airport serving Hartford, Conn., got a foot of snow, bringing the total for the month so far to 54.9 inches and breaking the all-time monthly record of 45.3 inches, set in December 1945.

In Massachusetts, travel was made trickier by high winds. Gusts of 46 mph were reported in Hyannis, 45 mph in Rockport and 49 mph on Nantucket early Thursday. In Lynn, Mass., heavy snow collapsed a garage roof and briefly trapped two men.

The region's major airports slowly got back up to speed after canceling hundreds of flights or closing altogether. New York's LaGuardia and Kennedy had reopened by midmorning, and passengers were flying out from Philadelphia and Washington-area airports.
  • CBSNews

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.