A winter storm paralyzed a large section of the Northeast today from Ohio to New England, shrouding Maryland in a blizzard and closing schools, offices and major highways throughout the region with more than a foot of wind-whipped snow and five-foot drifts.
"It was really bad. . . . You couldn't see your hand in front of your face," said Pat Duffy, a desk clerk at the Knights Inn in Mentor, Ohio.
Flights in and out of Philadelphia International Airport were canceled until at least mid-afternoon. The snowstorm also knocked out electricity to about 23,000 customers in southwest Philadelphia and the Chester County, Pa., area.
The heaviest snowfall amounts included 13 inches over northeast Ohio, while 12 inches of snow across Cape May County in southern New Jersey prompted local officials to declare a snow emergency. The New Jersey Assembly canceled its session in Trenton.
Plea for Volunteers
Officials at Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital in Cape May County issued a plea for volunteers with four-wheel-drive vehicles to help bring essential personnel to work, hospital spokeswoman Joann Oxley said.
A foot of snow also was measured in Erie, Pa.
Snow and wind gusts in excess of 50 m.p.h. extended from the Great Lakes across the Appalachians to New England and the mid-Atlantic Coast, while rain mixed with snow fell as far south as Tennessee.
Bitter cold temperatures accompanied the storm with windchill readings of 20 to 35 degrees below zero common across the northern and central Appalachians.
Blizzard conditions were reported in Oakland, Md., as winds in excess of 40 m.p.h. whipped around snow accumulations of about six inches.
'Just a Lot of Blowing'
"It's definitely a blizzard. It doesn't take much snow to make a blizzard--just a lot of blowing," said Ray Newcomb of the National Weather Service.
Blizzard warnings were in effect through the day over parts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maryland.
Several major interstates in Ohio and eastward were closed, while schools and universities canceled or delayed the start of classes in many counties of West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New Jersey and Delaware. Scores of traffic accidents were reported throughout the Northeast.
High winds drove Lake Erie waters over a dike in Eastlake, east of Cleveland, flooding several homes and sending residents scurrying to higher ground.
Cleveland Highway Closed
The stretch of Interstate 90 along Cleveland's lake front was closed overnight as heavy north winds blew water and ice across the road surface. The ice was two feet thick in some areas.
"It was a combination of snow, ice and dead fish (that were tossed on the road by the waves)," said Carol Marsalek, a Department of Transportation spokeswoman in Ohio. "The wind off the lake was so fierce."
In New England, residents once again fought off winter's worst, which has already produced two blizzards this year.