- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of airline flights were canceled yesterday, and fleets of road plows were warmed up as a paralyzing snowstorm barreled out of the Midwest and spread across the Northeast with a potential for up to 20 inches of snow driven by 50-mph wind.

Storm warnings were posted from Wisconsin to New England, where the National Weather Service posted blizzard warnings in effect through today. By yesterday afternoon, snow was falling across a region stretching from Wisconsin and Illinois to Virginia and New England.

One man died after falling through ice on a pond in Ohio, where two others died of apparent heart attacks while removing snow, authorities said.

Temperatures in Maine fell to 36 below zero in Masardis, and Bangor dropped to a record low of 29 below. Meteorologists predicted wind up to 50 mph would push wind-chill readings to 8 below zero in New York and New Jersey.

In New York, residents were advised to keep their cars off the road for the weekend as snow removers tried to clear 6,300 miles of roadway. Nearly 7 inches of snow had fallen in Central Park by yesterday evening. Almost 9 inches were reported on the eastern tip of Long Island, the National Weather Service said.

“I like the snow,” said Maya Tudor, 29, a college student. “It slows down the city and blankets a lot of the unpleasantness,” she said. “You never see New York this calm. It’s an event.”

Many people rushed out to stock up on supplies to ride out the storm at home.

“I got a couple steaks, a couple jugs of wine and a couple good books,” Walter Trogdash said as he left a convenience store in Toms River, N.J. “I think I’m all set.”

As much as a foot of snow had fallen in Wisconsin and Michigan, and wind gusted to more than 60 mph across Iowa. As much as 18 inches of snow was forecast in northern New Jersey, and accumulations of up to 20 inches were possible in parts of New England and the New York City area, the weather service said. A foot was likely in northern sections of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

New York City canceled all vacations for its sanitation workers and called people in on their days off to handle the snow. Kennedy International Airport had machines capable of melting 500 tons of snow an hour.

If 20 inches of snow fell in New York, the cost of cleanup could hit $20 million, but Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the cost was a problem for another day.

“The first thing is, we’re going to take care of the city,” Mr. Bloomberg said, “and then Monday morning, I’ll have to worry about how to pay for it.”

The blowing snow caused frustrating delays as airlines called off flights. About 400 flights were canceled yesterday at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and dozens more were called off at the city’s Midway Airport. More than 200 people stayed the night at the two airports because of flights canceled the previous night.

Even more chain-reaction cancellations were expected in Chicago and elsewhere as the storm clamped down on airports on the East Coast, said Annette Martinez, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation.

The New York metropolitan area’s Kennedy and Newark airports had dozens of cancellations, said Port Authority spokesman Alan Hicks. LaGuardia had nearly 200 cancellations by 2 p.m. yesterday.

By noon at Philadelphia International Airport, the storm already had wiped out about 25 percent of the normal load of 1,100 daily arrivals and departures.

At Pittsburgh International Airport, two airplanes slid off a taxiway while trying to take off. Airport officials said no one on the private jet or the commuter plane was injured.

On the highways, Pennsylvania State Police reported dozens of accidents, including one involving 11 cars. New Jersey banned tractor-trailer rigs and motorcycles from the New Jersey Turnpike and dropped the speed limit to 45 mph.

Amtrak said there were minimal delays for its trains yesterday in the Northeast corridor, but it would have a reduced schedule between Washington and Boston and in upstate New York today.

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