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Snow storm paralyses US Northeast
Travellers trying to get home after the holiday weekend are stuck in airports and trains, stranded by a blizzard.
Last Modified: 28 Dec 2010 07:11 GMT

Thousands of travellers trying to get home after the holiday weekend are stuck in airports, buses and subway trains, stranded by a blizzard that dumped more than two feet of snow across the US Northeast.

The storm moved up the coast from the Carolinas to Maine on Monday, with winds up to 129km per hour that dropped snow on streets, railway tracks and runways.

Passenger jets began landing again on Monday evening at two of the New York metropolitan area's three airports. A Royal Jordanian flight was the first to arrive at JFK, shortly before 7pm (0000 GMT), according to Steve Coleman, of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airports.

An Air Canada flight from Toronto landed at LaGuardia Airport at about 7:40pm (0040 GMT). Just before the aircraft touched down, the captain came over the loudspeaker and informed passengers that it was the first flight to land at LaGuardia since the blizzard hit.

Flights were expected to begin arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport later in the evening.

The storm battered the Northeast on Sunday, blocking most means of transportation. Flights were grounded. Buses came to a halt in snow drifts. Trains stopped in their tracks. Taxi drivers abandoned their vehicles in the middle of New York's snow-clogged streets.

Even the New York City subway system - usually dependable during a snowstorm - broke down in spots, trapping riders for hours.

Passengers stranded

Snowfall levels included a foot in Tidewater, Virginia, and Philadelphia, 29 inches in parts of northern New Jersey, 2ft north of New York City, and more than 18 inches in Boston.

Passengers spent the night in airports, train stations and bus depots. Some were given cots and blankets. Others used their luggage as pillows, curled into chairs, or made beds by spreading towels on the floor or overturning the plastic bins used for sending items through airport security.

Massachusetts is one of the states heavily affected by the snowfall across the US East Coast [Reuters]

Some airline passengers could be stuck for days. Many jets are fully booked because of the busy holiday season, and airlines are operating fewer flights because of the economic downturn.

As bad as the storm was, it could have been worse if it had been an ordinary work day. Children are home from school all week on Christmas vacation, and many people had taken off from work.

Many youngsters went out and played in the snow, some of them using the sleds they got for Christmas.

Many side streets in New York City remained impassable well into the day, and pedestrians stumbled over drifts and walked through knee-deep snow in some places.

Numerous people simply gave up trying to use the sidewalks, instead walking down the middle of partially swept streets.

Some New Yorkers complained that snow-sweeper crews were neglecting neighbourhoods in the outer boroughs in favour of Manhattan.

Michael Bloomberg, the mayor, defended the city's clean-up effort, saying the furious pace of the snowfall - two inches to three inches per hour - required crews to sweep streets repeatedly to keep them open. And abandoned cars slowed the process further because sweepers could not get through, he said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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