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Eastern US digs out of historic blizzard

January 25, 2016

Snowbound Washington will keep its federal offices closed on Monday as the US East Coast digs its way out. Sunshine on Sunday gave New Yorkers the chance to enjoy the aftermath of the city's second-biggest snowstorm.

Residents dig their car out of the snow in Union City, New Jersey
Image: Reuters/R. Rogers

Washington authorities have decided to keep federal services closed on Monday as US eastern states continue to recover from the weekend's massive blizzard.

Both chambers of Congress delayed votes until later in the week. Public schools will also remain shut across much of the Washington and Baltimore area.

A Washington traffic ban remained in effect, with people skiing and snowboarding on slopes around the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday.

Airport crews across eastern states continued to shunt snow from runways and de-ice planes into Monday, with nearly 12,000 flights canceled since Friday.

Worst-affected were airports in Philadelphia, the New York area, Baltimore, Washington and the state of Virginia. Aviation officials urged passengers to check ahead so as not to be stranded at terminals.

Multiple fatalities

Despite relief over the improved weather on Sunday, Winter Storm Jonas, nicknamed by many as "Snowzilla," was blamed for at least 22 fatalities in several states mainly as a result of car crashes and snow shoveling accidents.

In New Jersey, a mother and her infant son died in a car from exhaust fumes.They had been watching a family member shovel snow, unaware that the car's exhaust pipe was blocked by snow.

Up to 80 million residents, spread from the US Gulf Coast to northeastern New England, have stayed home since snow began falling heavily on Friday evening. The storm peaked over New York on Saturday.

Thousands of others had to be rescued as drifts trapped their vehicles on highways.

Record snowfall

Snow depth reports abounded, with the deepest recorded at Glengary, West Virginia, at 42 inches (107 centimeters).

New York's Central Park official reading of 26.8 inches was the second deepest recorded since 1869.

People sled and play in the snow on the hill below the U.S. Capitol in Washington
Many Washington residents took advantage of a temporary lifting of a sledding ban at national monumentsImage: Reuters/J. Ernst

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted a ban on non-emergency vehicles at breakfast time Sunday, but treacherous snow drifts remained.

Broadway reopened on Sunday for undeterred theatergoers. Shows had been cancelled on Saturday at the blizzard's peak.

Returning to work

New York and Washington public transport authorities are seeking to restore services by Monday, saying many people were relying on metro trains to get to work.

The New York Stock Exchange has said it plans to open as usual on Monday.

Electricity supply lost to a quarter of a million households in North Carolina and New Jersey on Saturday had reportedly been restored to many by Sunday afternoon.

ipj/cmk (Reuters, AP)