The 1600-kilometre storm
Thousands of flights are cancelled and government offices are closed across north-east USA as some of the nation's largest cities prepare for a foot or more of snow.PT1M30S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-318s3 620 349 January 22, 2014
A swirling storm stretching 1600 kilometres has clobbered parts of the mid-Atlantic and the urban north-east of the US, dumping nearly a foot and a half (0.3 metres) of snow, grounding thousands of flights, closing government offices in the nation's capital and making a mess of the evening commute.
The storm between Kentucky and Massachusetts hit especially hard along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between Philadelphia and Boston, creating perilous rides home for millions of motorists on Tuesday (local time).
The National Weather Service said Manalapan, New Jersey, got 15.5 inches (0.4 metres) of snow, Philadelphia got slightly more than a foot and Brookhaven, near Philadelphia's airport, got 15 inches. It said parts of New York City had 10 inches.
A plane sits shrouded by snow as ploughs work around it at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Photo: Reuters
Highways in the New York City metropolitan area were jammed, and blowing snow tripled or even quadrupled drive times.
"I just want to get to the Bronx," motorist Peter Neuwens lamented. "It's a big place. Why can't I get there?"
Forecasters said the storm could be followed by bitter cold as arctic air from Canada streams in.
Caught in a blizzard: a man crosses the road in Philadelphia. Photo: AP
The storm was a conventional one that developed off the coast and moved its way up the Eastern Seaboard, pulling in cold air from the arctic. Unlike the epic freeze of two weeks ago, it wasn't caused by a kink in the polar vortex, the winds that circulate around the North Pole.
This second fierce blast of winter weather is sapping fuel supplies in many regions in the US and sending prices for propane and natural gas to record highs.
Customers who heat with natural gas or electricity probably won't see dramatically higher prices, in part because utilities typically buy their fuel under longer-term contracts at set prices. But propane customers who find themselves suddenly needing to fill their tanks could be paying $US100 to $US200 more per fill-up than they did a month ago.
About 3000 flights for Tuesday were cancelled, with airports from Washington to Boston affected. More than 1000 flights for Wednesday were called off as well.
Schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky stayed closed for an extra day after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday or sent students home early. Some parents kept their children home all day, unwilling to put them on slippery roads for a few hours of school.