A monster blizzard almost paralysed the entire US East Coast with hurricane-force winds and record snowfall, killing at least 18 people before tapering down as millions of Americans prepared to dig themselves out today from the icy standstill.
Called ‘Snowzilla’, the blizzard propelled by tropical-storm-force winds that brought much of US Northeast to a standstill and left as much as three feet of snow, prompting at least 10 States to declare a state of emergency.
Some 85 million residents were affected due to the monster snowstorm as life in major US cities including its most populous New York and the capital Washington DC came to a grinding halt, with thousands of people left powerless and thousands of flights cancelled.
At least 18 people were killed in incidents blamed on the weather - from car crashes, shoveling snow and hypothermia as the blizzard dumped between 15-25 inches of snow across the region.
Cities like New York City issued a travel ban for cars and stopped over ground metro services.
The New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned drivers of non-emergency vehicles that they would be subject to arrest if they violated the travel ban.
“New Yorkers should head home now. We need cars off the road so that our equipment can do its work and keep streets passable for emergency vehicles. Travel conditions are dangerous, and we want to keep all New Yorkers safe until this storm passes,” Blasio said.
Metro services in Washington DC have also been stopped over the weekend.
Ocean City in New Jersey reported coastal flooding as a result of the blizzard. The New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has declared a State of Emergency.
Authorities across the East Coast have asked people to stay inside or at a safe place.
Officials said it would take them several days to remove snow from the roads and to restore normalcy.
“This will be a rare event for the region as there are not many storms that bring a foot or more of snow over such a large area and last more than 24 hours,” said AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams.
Police officials across the region said they responded to several thousand car accidents. On the Pennsylvania Turnpike about 500 vehicles were stranded, CNN reported.
The National Weather Service said a powerful low pressure system will bring heavy snow and blizzard conditions from the Middle Atlantic Region all the way through southern New England.
The storm finally seemed to be tapering off overnight, giving snowbound residents the chance to begin digging out. Officials in New York planned to lift a travel ban today, restoring access to roads throughout the city, and in Long Island and New Jersey.