- The Washington Times - Monday, December 21, 2009

PROVIDENCE, R.I. | A fierce weekend storm that dropped record snowfall and stranded travelers up the coast from Virginia to New England turned out not to be as naughty as many had feared by Sunday - and its nicest accomplishment may simply be leaving many with the prospect of a very white Christmas.

Residents throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast mostly holed up for the weekend, then dug out from as much as 2 feet of snow to find sunny, mostly calm skies under a blanket of white unspoiled by car exhaust and passers-by.

The storm began wreaking misery Friday in south Florida, where it caused flooding and knocked out electricity, and passed through the Carolinas before turning to snow as it moved north. In Ohio, two people were killed in accidents on snow-covered roads.

Neighbors shoveling snow in front of their homes in the east side of Providence shrugged off the snowstorm as a mild inconvenience that had the decency to come on a weekend.

“It’s less of a disruption,” said Chloe Kline, a 35-year-old musician. “I don’t have to get out to go to school or work or anything like that.” To the south, others struggled with the aftermath of the storm that stranded hundreds of motorists in Virginia and knocked out power to thousands, but could have been much worse.

On the cusp of the winter solstice, the storm gave southern New Jersey its highest single-storm snowfall totals in nearly four years.

The National Weather Service said the storm gave Philadelphia, which began keeping records in 1884, its second-largest snowfall: 23.2 inches.

In New York City, the brunt of the storm hit Long Island, with whiteout conditions and 26.3 inches in Upton, a record since measurements began in 1949. Nearly 11 inches of snow fell on New York City, and the storm could be the worst the city has seen since about 26 inches fell in February 2006, National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Maloit said.

Pragmatic New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg encouraged residents and holiday visitors to take advantage of cancellations by seeing a Broadway show. The mayor said city retailers weren’t hard hit because the snow held off until late Saturday.

Even as the storm wound down in the New York area, conditions remained treacherous and drivers were advised to stay off the roads, Mr. Maloit said. Bus, subways and trains were delayed - including a Long Island Rail Road train stalled for more than five hours before backing up and unloading its 150 passengers.

Airports in the Northeast that were jammed up Saturday were working their way back to normal operations. About 1,200 flights at the New York City area’s three major airports remained canceled despite clear conditions on the runways.

Philadelphia International Airport shut down Saturday night but began to reopen early Sunday. Spokeswoman Phyllis Van Istendal said operations would ramp up later in the day.

Al Wachlin, 70, lives in Philadelphia but grew up in Maine and was well prepared for the storm, with a truck and an attached plow. With a scraper in one hand and a brush in another, he worked to clear off his truck.

“This part of it’s great,” said Mr. Wachlin, who has lived in the city since 1960. “It’s the cleanup, the rutted streets where you go sliding into the intersection, that’s the whole problem.”

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