February 13, 2006

Northeast digs out record snowfall

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON (Reuters) - Snowplows cleared thousands of miles of
roads and commuters braved long delays on Monday as the
northeastern United States dug its way out of thigh-high record
snowfall after the first big storm of the season.

The sun came out as people along the East Coast returned to
work after snow kept falling most of Sunday, sinking New York
City into its deepest snow on record during a winter that has
been notably mild along the U.S. East Coast.

The storm's timing on a weekend helped officials get a head
start on clearing for Monday's rush hour.

"The crews almost got a free pass in terms of road cleanup
on Sunday because they were largely alone on the highways,"
said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency
Management Agency. Massachusetts sent 4,200 trucks to sweep and
sand the state's highways on Sunday and Monday after roughly 18
inches of snow hit the city of Boston.

But frozen tracks and damaged rail equipment made for a
slow start to the week for thousands of commuters.

In Providence, hundreds of passengers crammed into the
city's normally sleepy Amtrak station waiting for a
Boston-bound train that was running two hours late.

"I thought two hours of shoveling was bad enough, but
seeing a thigh-high snowdrift in the vestibule of the Amtrak
train that drifted all the way into the compartment was the
limit," said Clio Chafee, a graphic designer.

Before the storm, it had been a warm, dry winter along the
East Coast. In Boston, snowfall was about 6 inches below normal
and January was the sixth warmest January since 1892, said
National Weather Service meteorologist Tracy McCormick.

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of homes lost power and
many people who had gone away were stranded.

At least 26.9 inches of snow fell in New York's Central
Park, topping a powerful blizzard on December 26, 1947, that
killed 77 people, according to the National Weather Service and
city archives.


By Monday morning, New York's three main airports had all

Boston's Logan International Airport was open, but very
busy as travelers, stuck elsewhere over the weekend, finally
made their way home, spokesman Phil Orlandella said.

In New York, business was also moving more slowly as many
people decided to make it a three-day weekend.

"Things are going to be very, very quiet today, because I'm
sure half the portfolio managers in New York and in Boston are
going to stay home," said Tom Schrader, managing director of
U.S. equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets.

On Sunday, some 40,000 homes lost power in Washington and
parts of Maryland and another 85,000 lost power in the
Baltimore area, according to utility groups.

But Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island
reported few outages, largely because the snow was light and

With the sun shining brightly on Monday, people across the
region took to the outdoors. Dozens of Massachusetts towns and
cities, including Boston, canceled school, leaving children --
and adults -- free to enjoy the deep snow.

"I decided to go with the flow and so instead of shoveling
I went skiing in the Arnold Arboretum," said J.B. Clancy, an
architect in Boston.

(Additional reporting by Claudia Parsons, Emily Chasan,
Scott Malone and Chris Michaud in New York))