Another powerful snowstorm clobbered the East Coast on Friday, causing scores of accidents and snarling traffic at the start of the long Presidents Day weekend. At least 12 people were killed in a train crash outside Washington.
While the storm didn't pack the punch of January's paralyzing Blizzard of '96, the heavy snow forced flight delays and cancellations at airports in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington.Forecasters called for up to 14 inches of snow from Fredericksburg, Va., north to the Washington suburbs. Up to a foot was expected in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.
Outside Washington, an Amtrak passenger train bound for Chicago and a local commuter train crashed head-on in Silver Spring, Md., in heavy snow. At least 12 people were killed and two dozen others injured.
It wasn't immediately known if the weather was a factor in the crash. Hours after the crash, Warren Monks, a spokesman for the Maryland Transit Administration, would only say, "We were having some switch problems."
Dozens of traffic accidents were reported from Maine to Georgia as the heavy snow left highways slippery and reduced visibility to near zero.
"We're having a large number of accidents," said Clay Stamp, emergency operations director for Ocean City, Md. "People are sliding into each other on the road. The roads are really slick."
Eastbound traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike during the afternoon rush hour was backed up for two miles in the Westboro area because of a jacknifed tractor-trailer.
In Delaware, state police reported 115 accidents from the morning rush hour until noon. "The roads were passable, but snow and low visibility was causing numerous accidents," said Cpl. David Thomas.
In Pennsylvania, traffic on Interstate 95 slowed to a crawl as drivers struggled to keep their vehicles on the road.
"It was hell - zero visibility," said Vic Gatmaitan, whose 45-minute commute to Philadelphia from Newtown, Pa., took two hours. "Four or five cars slipped off the road as I drove by."
Even though the storm wasn't as bad as the blizzard that dumped up to 3 feet of snow on parts of the Northeast last month, it was still too much for some of the winter-weary.
"I hate it! I hate it! I hate it," said Sylvia Pace of New York City, where almost 5 inches of snow had fallen by midday.
"We've had it up to here," her friend Freshda Nazzar added, motioning high above her 5-foot-5 frame.
Still, the new snowfall broke a number of records. By Friday night, Lynchburg, Va., had reported 8.1 inches of snow, bringing its season total to 51.3 inches and breaking a record of 46.7 inches set 100 years ago. Washington's Dulles International Airport reported 7.5 inches, for a total of 52.4 inches, breaking the record of 44.4 inches in 1966-67.
In the South, residents who had been enjoying temperatures as high as 70 degrees were caught off guard when a cold front moved into the region.
Up to 3 inches of snow was reported in some parts of Alabama. Dozens of accidents were reported in the Huntsville area as the storm moved in Friday morning, bringing wind chills between zero and minus 10.
In Guntersville, 64 miles outside of Birmingham, two school buses slid off snowy roads into ditches. No one was injured.
In South Carolina, temperatures dropped from the 70s on Thursday into the 30s on Friday with as much as 2 inches of snow in some areas.