Blizzard's Fury Moves North

Mike Reardon, of Lynn, Mass., clears the sidewalk during a winter storm, Monday, Feb. 17, 2003, in Boston. AP

The worst blizzard in seven years shut down much of the Northeast on Presidents Day with blinding, windblown snow that piled up as much as 4 feet deep and left more than a quarter of a million homes and businesses shivering without power.

The storm has headed north and is now pounding New England. So far, there is already 17 inches of snow at Logan International Airport in Boston. In western Massachusetts, things are even more intense - statewide, the western Massachusetts town of Goshen has the most snow: 21 inches, the last time they got the yardstick out.

The heaviest band of snow is expected to continue blanketing Boston and at least two feet of snow is expected by the time the snow finally stops in Massachusetts.

At least 28 deaths have been blamed on the storm system since it charged out of the Plains during the weekend, piling snow in the Ohio Valley, producing mudslides and floods in the southern Appalachians, and making layers of ice that snapped trees and power lines.

Among those killed was an 83-year-old Pennsylvania man who sought shelter inside his parked car when his home heating system failed died inside the car. Officials said he died either of hypothermia or carbon monoxide poisoning.


Airports for Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York largely shut down, stranding thousands of passengers trying to leave and get into the region. Amtrak's north-south service was halted between Washington and Richmond, Va., and regional bus service stopped in many areas.

The holiday meant there were few commuters, but police from Kentucky to Massachusetts pleaded with motorists to stay home and some counties banned nonessential travel so they could clear the roads.

"This is going to be days worth of cleanup," said Maryland Highway Administration spokesman David Buck.

The western tip of Maryland was buried, with 49 inches of snow in Garrett County on top of 30-foot drifts left by earlier storms. Area roads, some surrounded by 12-foot-high walls of snow, "look like canals," said Garrett County state highway supervisor Paul McIntyre.

"It's no man's land out there," said McIntyre, whose office window in Keysers Ridge, elevation 2,900 feet, was entirely blocked by snow. "It looks more like Siberia than Maryland."

Elsewhere, 27 inches fell in West Virginia's Berkeley County, the National Weather Service said. The Seven Springs ski resort area on western Pennsylvania had 40 inches.

It was one of the worst snowstorms in a century in Washington, where 16 inches fell. For the region as a whole, it was the worst snowstorm since the blizzard of 1996, when at least 80 deaths were blamed on the weather.

Among the many travelers stranded by the storm, few were as far from home as Lynn Anderson of Belfast, Ireland.

"It's turned into a complete nightmare," said Anderson, who arrived in Philadelphia on Sunday hoping to go to Williamsburg, Va., but had to stay overnight in a downtown Philadelphia hotel.

Staff members at Baltimore-Washington International Airport distributed blankets and pillows to the some 150 travelers who spent the night there. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Newark, Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, supplied cots and blankets.

Thousands of travelers trying to get home from vacations were stuck at Florida airports.

"We are not going anywhere," Elizabeth Huffman said at Miami International Airport after finding her flight home to Washington was canceled. Her husband found an alternative: "We are thinking about going to the beach for the day."

The heavy snow was blamed for several roof collapses in New Jersey, including one that killed a man at a job-training school in Edison. In Maryland, a roof fell in at the B & O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft declared three southern counties disaster areas Monday because of the snow and ice. Disaster and emergency declarations also had been issued by governors in New York, Kentucky, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

States had thousands of crews plowing and spreading salt. Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich said the storm had cost between $20 million and $30 million - and the state was already $14 million over budget for road cleanup this season.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg estimated the storm, measured in Central Park at 19.8 inches by early evening, already had cost his city around $20 million. By early evening, the snow had ended in the city.

Plows built piles of snow two stories high along some streets, including Fifth Avenue near the Saks department store in Midtown Manhattan, where tourists took pictures of each other standing on the gigantic mounds of snow.

An estimated 100,000 customers lost power in West Virginia, with 20,000 in the Carolinas, 62,000 in Ohio, 96,000 in Kentucky and 6,000 in Virginia.

Weather-related deaths included two in Illinois, one in Nebraska, five in Pennsylvania, six in West Virginia, six in Missouri, one in Ohio, two in Virginia, one in New Jersey and four in Iowa.

In Tennessee, the search for two children missing after the car in which they were riding was swept off a bridge by high water Sunday was called off until Tuesday. Their aunt, who was driving, was rescued.

The Big Blizzard, State By State

  • Iowa: four deaths; 14 inches of snow in Des Moines.

  • Nebraska: one death; 10 inches around Omaha.

  • Illinois: two deaths.

  • Missouri: six deaths.

  • North and South Carolina: power restored to most of 20,000 customers who lost electricity after ice storm.

  • West Virginia: six deaths; 23.4 inches of snow at Berkeley Springs; 100,000 customers without electricity; flooding that included high water isolating the town of Hamlin; U.S. 60 closed at Cedar Grove by slide that included rocks as big as houses.

  • Ohio: one death; 62,000 without electricity; up to 16 inches of snow in central Ohio; ice and snow 8 inches thick in some southern counties.

  • Kentucky: 96,000 without electricity; flooding in eastern Kentucky; scattered mud slides.

  • Virginia: two dead; 1,000 without electricity; 35 inches of snow at Linden on Blue Ridge and 30 at Winchester; northbound Interstate 81 closed overnight near Strasburg by wrecks and slippery hill.

  • District of Columbia: 16.1 inches of snow at Ronald Reagan National Airport; Reagan, Dulles and Baltimore-Washington airports closed.

  • Maryland: snow removal already cost $20 million to $30 million; Maryland Transit Administration suspended local bus and subway operations; collapsed roofs including one at B & O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.

  • Delaware: up to 2 feet of snow; flooding reported in several beach communities; power outages reported in Dewey Beach.

  • New Jersey: one death; 24 inches of snow at Little Egg Harbor; some coastal flooding; several collapsed roofs.

  • Pennsylvania: five deaths; 41.5 inches of snow at Seven Springs ski resort area near Champion in western Pennsylvania. Philadelphia International Airport was technically open Monday but every flight was canceled.

  • New York: 19.8 inches of snow in Central Park; snow removal for 6,000 miles of streets estimated at $20 million; LaGuardia Airport closed, almost all domestic flights canceled at Kennedy and Newark airports; service suspended on some city bus and train lines in all five boroughs; bus service halted in and out of Port Authority bus terminal.

  • Connecticut: Two feet in spots by evening; up to 30 inches forecast.

  • Massachusetts: 17 inches by evening at Boston's Logan International Airport, up to 2 feet forecast; Logan open but more than half of flights canceled; ferry service from Cape Cod to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard canceled.

    • Lloyd Vries

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