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Page last updated at 20:06 GMT, Saturday, 6 February 2010

Snowstorm paralyses Washington DC and eastern US

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"They say this is going to be a record snowfall. It is nice to be part of history"

Some of the heaviest snow for decades has hit parts of the eastern US, paralysing air and road transport, and bringing Washington DC to a standstill.

The storm knocked down power lines and left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity.

Nearly 2ft (60cm) of snow had fallen by noon on Saturday in cities across the region, the Associated Press reports.

The mayor of Washington DC, and the governors of Virginia and Maryland have declared states of emergency.

West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are also affected.

WASHINGTON SNOWSTORMS
Snow on the Korean War Memorial in Washington, 6 Feb
More than 1ft (12in, 30.5cm) of snow has fallen only 13 times since 1870
Heaviest on record is 28in (71cm) in January 1922
Worst snowfall is believed to have hit in 1772, before records began, with as much as 3ft

The National Weather Service declared a 24-hour blizzard warning for the Washington-Baltimore region until 2200 on Saturday (0300 GMT on Sunday).

Most flights from the Washington-Baltimore area's three main airports and Philadelphia International Airport have been cancelled.

Hundreds of car accidents were reported, including two fatalities - a father and son who died while helping another motorist in Virginia.

US national rail service Amtrak cancelled a number of trains between New York and Washington, and also between Washington and some southern destinations.

Local weather forecasters said the Washington area could see its heaviest snowfall in 90 years.

It comes less than two months after a December storm dumped more than 16in (41cm) of snow in Washington.

The usually traffic-heavy roads of the capital were deserted, while the city's famous sites and monuments were covered with snow.

DC traditionally panics when it comes to snow - this time, it may be more justifiable than most times.
Becky Shipp
Resident of Arlington, Virginia

The Washington Metro was operating only on underground lines, and bus services were cancelled.

US government offices in the Washington area closed four hours early on Friday, while the Smithsonian museums and National Zoo were closed on Saturday.

Debi Adkins, who lives just outside the city of Baltimore, told the BBC: "The snow started at 1130 yesterday morning and it just hasn't stopped... about 20 inches came overnight - and thunder and lightning.

"I'm not going anywhere - I couldn't if I wanted to. You just can't get your cars out. The front door of the building I live in is closed shut, so I just can't get out."

Ushaa Shyam Krishna in Chantilly, Virginia, said he - like many others - had stocked up on essential food items ahead of the storm.

"For the first few hours after the storm began, my daughter and I tried to shovel the snow, but now we have given up," he said.

"On Thursday the supermarkets were half empty - we went again yesterday and the shelves were totally empty."


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SEE ALSO
Eastern US braced for snowstorm
18 Dec 09 |  Americas
US snow storms: Your stories
20 Dec 09 |  Americas
Snow engulfs US East Coast
20 Dec 09 |  Americas
Midwest shivers as storm passes
10 Dec 09 |  Americas

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