Deep freeze brings more travel chaos to eastern US

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 8:52pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 9:43pm

A massive winter storm that left parts of the southeastern United States in a deep freeze pushed up the east coast, with snow and ice snarling road travel and forcing airline cancellations.

The storm system dropped up to 15cm of snow on West Virginia early Sunday before blanketing the Washington area with its first accumulation of the season.

Pushing north, it was expected to pummel the east coast with snow, sleet, and freezing rain from Baltimore to north of Portland, Maine, according to the National Weather Service.

What’s really significant about this system is this narrow band of heavy snow

The storm system coated roads and highways from Virginia through southeastern Pennsylvania with snow and ice, and reduced visibility made car travel treacherous. The Delaware Memorial Bridge, which links Delaware with New Jersey, was closed briefly "due to ice and multiple accidents," according to the bridge's official Twitter account.

Parts of Maryland, Delaware and southern New Jersey could get up to 30cm of snow, said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

"What's really significant about this system is this narrow band of heavy snow in some areas," he said.

Flights to and from Philadelphia International were temporarily grounded, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Just to the west of Philadelphia, near Morgantown, more than 50 cars and trucks were damaged in a series of chain-reaction crashes on the Pennsylvania Turnpike just after noon on Sunday, turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said.

The crash that started the chain reaction involved 12 vehicles. One man was killed when he exited his vehicle after that crash, DeFebo said.

In the northeast, the storm system closed in on New York City and could linger over the tri-state area. The New York City Department of Sanitation issued the season's first "snow alert" starting Sunday afternoon, and was preparing salt spreaders and plows to clear covered roads.

The blast of cold air and rain also brought light snowfall to the Midwest, including parts of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

A number of traffic accidents were reported on Milwaukee-area roads and freeways with one person killed.

About 300 vehicles were stuck overnight Saturday to Sunday on a mountainous, 50-kilometre stretch of Interstate 15 in northwestern Arizona after heavy snow and icy conditions led to a chain-reaction crash set off by multiple jackknifing semi-trailer trucks, said Bart Graves, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

No one was hurt, despite multiple vehicles crashing into each other or skidding off the road, Graves said.

More than 2,500 flights were cancelled nationwide on Sunday, according to tracking website Airports in Newark, New Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia all reported delays.