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New York City sidewalk early Sunday morning AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

Jan 24, 2016 10:25 AM

Snowy East Coast digs out after mammoth blizzard

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Millions of Americans started digging themselves out Sunday after a mammoth blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-setting snowfall brought much of the East Coast to an icy standstill.

New York and Baltimore began lifting travel restrictions and hearty souls ventured out on snow-choked streets, while mass transit systems up and down the coast gradually restored normal service.

But even as United Airlines said limited service might begin later in the afternoon in New York City, airports in the Washington D.C. area were likely to remain closed Sunday, and other airlines started to cut Monday service in addition to the 7,000 already-canceled weekend flights.

The massive snowstorm brought both the nation's capital and its largest city to a stop, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow and stranding tens of thousands of travelers. At least 18 deaths were blamed on the weather, resulting from car crashes, shoveling snow and hypothermia.

The storm dropped 26.8 inches in Central Park, the second-most recorded since 1869 and just short of 26.9 inches set in February 2006. The 26.6 inches that fell on Saturday, however, was the city's record for a single day.

The storm dropped snow from the Gulf Coast to New England, with areas of Washington surpassing 30 inches. The heaviest unofficial report was in a rural area of West Virginia, not far from Harpers Ferry, with 40 inches.

"This is kind of a Top 10 snowstorm," said weather service winter storm expert Paul Kocin, who co-wrote a two-volume textbook on blizzards.

The usually bustling New York City looked more like a ghost town. With Broadway shows dark, thin crowds shuffled through a different kind of Great White Way, the nickname for a section of the theater district. And Bruce Springsteen canceled Sunday's scheduled show at Madison Square Garden.

In Washington, monuments that would typically be busy with tourists stood vacant. All mass transit in the capital was to be shut down through Sunday.


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