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Major US East Coast cities struggled on Monday to return to normal following a massive weekend blizzard that dropped about 60.96 cm of snow on cities including New York and Washington.
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New York, Washington dig out after 'Snowzilla'
Millions of Americans are digging themselves out after a record-breaking snow storm hit the US East Coast.
Commuters faced delayed trains and buses and traffic was heavy heading into major metropolitan areas as many roads remained clogged with drifts of snow.
In Washington, the US Office of Personnel Management said federal government offices were shut on Monday, while further north, the New York Stock Exchange and the city's public schools were scheduled to open as usual.
The monster weather system, unofficially dubbed Winter Storm Jonas, left at least 20 people have died from storm-related causes including traffic accidents and heart attacks while shovelling, with deaths reported in states stretching from Arkansas to New York. In one tragic incident, a mother and baby died of monoxide poisoning after their car was buried by snow in New Jersey.
Air travel remained seriously affected as some 1390 US flights were cancelled on Monday, with Newark Liberty International Airport, New York's LaGuardia Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport the hardest hit, according to FlightAware.com.
More than 12,000 US flights were slashed from Friday through Monday, with some airlines cancelling flights into Tuesday, FlightAware reported.
The blizzard was the second biggest snowstorm in New York City history, with 68 cm measured in Central Park by midnight on Saturday, shy of the record 68.3 cm set in 2006, the National Weather Service said.
The NWS said 57 cm fell in Washington at the National Zoo, and Baltimore-Washington International Airport notched a record 74.2 cm. The deepest regional total was 106.7 cm at Glengarry, West Virginia.
In the Washington suburb of Arlington, Virginia, on Monday the main thoroughfare leading into Washington was clear but virtually empty as secondary roads were clogged by slush and partly blocked by huge mounds of snow created by ploughing.
Dozens waited for more than half an hour for the subway into downtown as limited metro service began.
"It's beautiful to watch but impossible to get through," said John Salmons, a 24-year-old designer who works at an architecture firm. "The main roads were fine, it was just the secondary roads that were worst."
Even with federal government offices officially closed, the Supreme Court was open for business, scheduled to issue rulings and act on pending appeals from the snowbound courthouse across from the US Capitol building. In past storms, including hurricanes and blizzards, the court also remained open, even hearing oral arguments.
The entire region seemed to breathe a sigh of relief that the worst was over.
"For us, snow is like a normal winter," said Viola Rogacka, 21, a fashion model from Poland, walking with a friend through New York's Times Square. "It's how it should look like."
Theaters reopened on Broadway after the blizzard forced them to go dark on Saturday on the recommendation of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"We still have some areas that we have to do a lot more work on. But we've come through it pretty well," de Blasio said on ABC's Sunday program "This Week". "We think we'll be broadly up and running again at the city tomorrow."
Massive blizzards that paralysed much of the US East Coast in the past few days are likely to cause "multi-billion" dollar economic losses in one of the worst storms in the region in over a century, reinsurance broker Aon Benfield said on Monday.
"Given the physical damage to homes, businesses and other structures and automobiles, plus the high costs incurred due to business interruption, it is expected that this will end up being a multi-billion-dollar economic cost," Aon Benfield said in a note.
The storm would likely be rated as one of the top 15 winter storms in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic since 1900, it added.
It was too soon to calculate insured losses, Aon Benfield said, adding a similar storm system in January 1996 caused an estimated economic loss of $US4.6 billion ($6.59 billion) and insured loss of $US920 million ($1.32 billion) in current dollar terms.
Coastal communities from North Carolina to southern New England worked to recover Sunday from moderate to major flooding that struck during high tides as a blizzard and high winds hammered the Mid-Atlantic region.
The National Weather Service said coastal flood warnings remained in place Sunday from North Carolina to Maine.
As the storm surge flooded the underground electrical infrastructure in downtown Ocean City, New Jersey, on Saturday, Delmarva Power cut power to hundreds of customers as a precaution, according to the Associated Press. Atlantic City was also hit by flooding, and firefighters struggled to deal with a blaze in Sea Isle City, New Jersey, because of flooding, the AP reported.
Record high levels of water were reported in three New Jersey locations: Great Channel at Stone River, Cape May Harbor and Delaware Bay at Cape May, the Weather Channel said. Floodwaters rose to 9.27 feet in Lewes, Del., on Saturday, setting a record there.
High tides Sunday pushed waters back into many New Jersey streets in coastal communities, including Sea Bright, Long Beach, Hazlet and Manasquan, but the flooding in many places soon receded, according to Asbury Park Press.
Snowbound schools and US government
Washington, which has a poor track record in dealing with snow, seemed unready for a return to its Monday routine after its largest snowstorm in decades, with major airports, public buses and subways completely shut down all Sunday. Metro trains were to begin limited service starting at 7 am on Monday.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser earlier issued a public apology for commuting headaches caused by the blizzard, which locals dubbed "Snowzilla." She said crews had worked all night and Sunday, ploughing main roads and were just getting to secondary roadways and neighbourhoods.
Public schools were slated to be closed on Monday across much of the Washington and Baltimore region, with some shuttered through Tuesday.
All federal offices were to be closed on Monday and the US House of Representatives cancelled its voting until February 1. The Pentagon cancelled all its events.
Nevertheless, walkers, sledders, some cars and the occasional cross-country skier ventured into the dazzling white Washington landscape under a bright sun.
Paul Schaaf, a 49-year-old helicopter pilot for Children's Hospital in Washington, was biking 12 km to work for his overnight shift and planned to bike back to Arlington, Virginia, on Monday morning.
"I have to get into work no matter what. And the best way to do it is on my bicycle with steel-studded snow tires," he said.
Reuters, USA Today