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Heavy snowstorm more playground than problem

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One day after record snowstorms clobbered the east coast of the United States, members of the Church were out of doors basking in the beauty of a winter wonderland cast against the grandeur of deep blue skies.

"It's drop-dead beautiful," said Claudette Gerard of the McLean Virginia Stake, located near Washington, D.C. "It's so beautiful."

Church meetings were either canceled or shortened after the biggest snow storm of the year buried the northeast with thigh-high snows that crippled transportation on Feb. 12.

The storm, described as a crab nebula, 1,200 miles long and 500 miles wide, crawled up the East Coast bringing winds up to 60 miles per hour and dropping 12 to 27 inches of snow that broke or challenged records from North Carolina to Maine.

Members were inconvenienced, but not endangered, reported a number of priesthood leaders.

The few members who attended sacrament meeting in the Manhattan 2nd Ward, New York New York Stake, took about 1 1/2 hours to get to Church.

With roads too snowpacked to drive, Susy Yamanda walked with her children for four blocks, then took a cab. "They don't know how to drive in snow," she said. On their return home, her teenage son, dressed in Sunday shoes, helped push stuck cars.

The storm — destined for lionization as "the blizzard of '06" — was forecast days in advance, said President Maurice Hiers of the Boston Massachusetts Stake. While Boston was cloaked with up to 24 inches of snow, members had learned from Hurricane Katrina the need for emergency preparedness and stocked away sufficient goods. Members were directed to remain home on Sunday to teach their families the gospel, creating an intimate setting that President Hiers believes provides one of the finest teaching moments.

Fearing that heavy snowfall and possible ice-encrusted roads would make travel dangerous for members, President Jack Gerard of the McLean Virginia Stake counseled with bishops Saturday night following the worldwide leadership broadcast, just as the snow was beginning to fall, and decided to cancel Sunday meetings.

"It turned out to be the right decision," he said. By afternoon, members in McLean had dug themselves out of snow and organized in small groups to help others.

Snow fell at the phenomenal rate of 3-5 inches an hour. "That's about as hard as it can snow in New York City," said Jeff Warner, a meteorologist with Pennsylvania State University.

— New York Times News Service was a source for this article.