- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 18, 2003

BOSTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) — The Blizzard of 2003 blew out to sea Tuesday, leaving record snowfalls topping more than 2 feet from Washington to Boston and a growing death toll.

Boston's snowfall of 27.5 inches surpassed the record of 27.1 during the Blizzard of '78, and was the heaviest in the city since 1997 when 25.4 inches fell in the April Fool's Day storm.

The storm this week was "a whopper," said Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, with crowded city dwellers digging out their vehicles and driveways, baffled as to where to put the snow.

Mounds grew to 6 feet or more as children joined parents and neighbors in shoveling the record snowfall.

"I can't throw it that high anymore," said Kathi Sheridan as she and her daughters, Keryn, 15, and Katyana, 7, labored to dig out a family car in Malden.

While major highways were reported to be in good shape in most areas thanks to thousands of plows working long hours, secondary roads were still posing problems.

The heaviest snowfall came in western Maryland outside of Washington. Some areas in Garrett County, Md., had 49 inches of snow.

"This has been a dilly," said one resident.

The storm swept into the mid-Atlantic states on Sunday and Monday, disrupting transportation and stranding thousands of Presidents' Day holiday travelers.

Federal offices in Washington, closed Monday for the holiday, remained closed Tuesday to reduce traffic and help crews clear the streets of snow.

Washington Mayor Anthony Williams said it could take up to three days to clear the streets of snow.

"Once you've plowed this stuff, where do you dump these mountains of stuff?" Williams told a local television station. "You can't just dump it in the river. That's an environmental hazard."

"We are in no way ready for a big crush of traffic," said Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us. The roads will not be back to normal for several days," Morris said.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg appealed to the public to get cars off the road to facilitate plowing.

Despite the record snowfall, "I believe the city of Boston came through the storm in good shape," Menino said.

Even though this snow total was higher than in the Blizzard of '78, most people agreed the earlier storm was much more severe because of higher winds and the damage caused by coastal flooding.

In the nation's capital, many monuments and museums that were closed on Monday for the holiday reopened to the public on Tuesday.

Airports shut down by the weather also were re-opening, although many cancellations and delays were still reported. Thousands of flights were canceled, and officials said it would take several days to get back to normal schedules.

Some 17 to 18 inches of snow fell in the District of Columbia, the sixth largest snowfall in the capital. A record 26 inches was recorded at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

In Baltimore, the weather service recorded 26.6 inches of snow, surpassing the city's record snowfall of 26.5 inches in late January 1922.

Philadelphia had 18 to 21 inches.

The death toll from the storm also mounted to more than 30, according to media reports.

In Baltimore, two children, ages 11 and 12, were dead, and a third, also 11, was hospitalized after they were found in a snow-covered car.

Police said the mother of the 11-year-old who died had given her car keys to them so they could get spare change for her.

She later went to work and when she came home, she saw the children still in the car and called police. When police arrived, two of the three children were dead.

The boy who survived told authorities that he and his friends turned the car on and were listening to CDs when they fell asleep.

In Boston, a man using a Bobcat plow outside the Massachusetts General Hospital was killed when it crashed 20 feet through a sidewalk grating.

CNN said the death toll included at least three others on Monday. In Maryland, authorities said a 42-year-old Frederick County man and two Anne Arundel County men died of heart attacks Monday while shoveling snow.

Two others died in Illinois, one in Nebraska, five in West Virginia, six in Missouri, one in Ohio, one in New Jersey and four in Iowa.

The storm that swept into the Eastern Seaboard on Sunday and Monday moved out into the Gulf of Maine on Tuesday where gale winds battered coastal areas.

The storm was considered the worst to ever hit Baltimore and the fourth-heaviest blizzard in New York where the record of 26.4 inches in 1947 still stands. New York had just nearly 20 inches.

"In 21 years I never seen it like that," said a New York cab driver.

Others, however, enjoyed it.

"This is fun! I wanted to play," Alex Hernandez, 19, told the New York Post as he took a break from his kitchen job in the West Village to build a 5-foot-tall Frosty snowman.

With warmer temperatures and rains predicted later in the week, officials warned of the potential for flooding and roof collapses. One man was killed and four others injured when a roof collapsed at a trade school in Edison, N.J., Monday.

In Baltimore, heavy snow caused the roof of the historic Baltimore and Ohio Railroad roundhouse, built in 1884, to cave in. The roof of a business collapsed Tuesday in Hopedale, Mass., injuring one person.

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(With reporting by Hil Anderson in Los Angeles)

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