|3,000 flights canned amid US snow storm
A major snow storm rolled across the northeastern United States Tuesday. Forecasters called for as much as a foot of snow in some places before it leaves a cold snap in its wake.
Downtown Washington fell virtually silent after the federal government, seeing the swift-moving cold front approaching, closed its doors and told civil servants to stay home.
Many offices and schools followed suit, AFP reports.
Washington's Metro system reported half as many riders as a typical weekday, and business was so slow that many restaurants used Twitter to woo customers with bargain-priced drinks.
Enough snow was expected to fall on the US capital to turn the evening rush hour into a Beltway traffic nightmare, as the storm churned its way into New York and the northeastern New England states.
“The storm along the Mid-Atlantic Coast will deepen rapidly while moving northeastward to the Canadian Maritimes paralleling the coast by Wednesday evening,'' the National Weather Service said.
“The system will produce moderate to heavy snow over the mid-Atlantic coast into southern New England that will move into the Gulf of Maine by Wednesday morning.''
In its wake, temperatures will drop as low as minus 13 degrees Celsius in Washington overnight. The mercury is unlikely to climb back above freezing before Saturday.
FlightAware, a website that monitors air traffic in real time, said nearly 3,000 flights into, out of or within the United States had been cancelled Tuesday.
The lion's share of affected flights involved busy airports in the New York, Philadelphia and Washington areas.
National passenger rail operator Amtrak said it would operate “a normal Tuesday schedule,'' but it warned passengers to “anticipate some weather-related delays.''
The Washington Post's popular Capital Weather Gang blog forecast up to 10 inches of snow in and around the US capital, ahead of a return of sub-freezing temperatures later this week.
In New York, a storm alert remained in effect until 6am local time Wednesday with as much as a foot of snow forecast for the metropolitan region.
Temperatures were set to fall below normal, to minus 12 degrees Celsius) with winds gusting to 56 kilometers per hour.
Across the Hudson River, New Jersey went ahead with its mid-day inauguration ceremony for re-elected governor Chris Christie, who is battling allegations he used his office to bully political foes.
But an evening gala on historic Ellis Island in New York Harbor to mark the start of his new term in office was cancelled due to the storm.