THE BIG CHILL: United States

At least 25 killed in weekend 'Snowzilla'

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON • The eastern United States emerged wearily from a massive blizzard that dumped huge amounts of snow and killed at least 25 people, but Washington was still reeling, with government offices and schools to remain closed yesterday.

The storm - dubbed "Snowzilla" - walloped a dozen states from Friday into early Sunday, affecting an estimated 85 million residents who were told to stay indoors and off the roads for their own safety.

The 68cm of snow that fell in New York's Central Park was the second highest accumulation since records began in 1869, and more than 56cm paralysed Washington.

Near-record-breaking snowfall was recorded in other cities up and down the East Coast, with Philadelphia and Baltimore also on the receiving end of some of the worst that Mother Nature could fling at them.

But as the storm ended and temperatures rose, New York emerged from total shutdown and lifted a sweeping travel ban.

Roads were reopened throughout the city, on Long Island and in New Jersey. Thousands of people flocked to parks, tobogganing, organising snowball fights and strapping on cross-country skis, as children delighted in a winter wonderland under glorious sunshine.

Broadway resumed shows, which were cancelled on Saturday, and museums reopened, as snowploughs quickly cleared the main avenues and temperatures hovered at about 0 deg C.

But as the storm-related death toll rose, the authorities advised caution despite the picture-postcard scenes outside.

"We urge all New Yorkers not to travel on our roads except when necessary, and to be extremely careful when driving," Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference.

"Our tireless sanitation workers are out in full force and we must give them space to clear the roads. If you go outside, use caution and stay alert for ice and cold temperatures," he added.

In the nation's capital, which is not as adept at handling winter weather as the Big Apple, the authorities struggled to get the city back up and running. Major roads were clear downtown, but side streets were still piled high with snow.

Public schools were to remain closed and only limited public transportation was to resume yesterday.

Limited flight operations were to resume from Washington's Reagan National and Dulles International airports yesterday.

Beyond New York and the US capital, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia were the hardest-hit areas. The fatalities occurred in Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia. Many of the storm-related deaths were of people who suffered heart attacks while shovelling.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline 'At least 25 killed in weekend 'Snowzilla''. Print Edition | Subscribe