NYPD cars covered in snow are seen in New York. Millions of people in the eastern United States started digging out from a huge blizzard that brought New York and Washington to a standstill, but the travel woes were far from over.(KENA BETANCUR / AFP/Getty Images)
Workers clear the tracks of snow at the Port Washington branch of the Long Island Railroad in New York N.Y. Service is suspended on the Port Washington branch due to the recent snow storm.(Kathy Kmonicek / Associated Press)
People walk near the Washington Monument in Washington.(OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP/Getty Images)
A child goes sledding down a hill in Bruce Park in Greenwich, Connecticut.(TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP/Getty Images)
General view of Brooklyn Bridge with snowed up docks in New York.(FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT / AFP/Getty Images)
A young girl is sliding on the West Lawn of the US Capitol in Washington. Millions of people in the eastern United States started digging out from a huge blizzard that brought New York and Washington to a standstill.(OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP/Getty Images)
Children slide in the snow in Central Park in New York.(FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT / AFP/Getty Images)
Dan Cooperman falls into a deep snowbank in Brooklyn, N.Y., as he was trying to clear his car on Jan. 24.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
John Ruiz, 18, left, and Tyrone Graham, 16, earn money digging cars out of the snow in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., on Jan. 24.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Saul Shapiro, center, Jim Keller, right, and Jonathan Marvel, back, enjoy cross-country skiing along the Brooklyn, N.Y., waterfront on Jan. 24.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
As the sun comes out on Jan. 24 after a major snowstorm hit the Northeast, families enjoy sledding at Hillside Dog Park in Brooklyn, N.Y.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Snow covers the Brooklyn, N.Y., waterfront with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background on Jan. 24.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Two women make their way across 6th Avenue in Manhattan.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
A light snow continued to fall in Brooklyn late Saturday.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Pedestrians battle heavy snow and wind on 6th Avenue in Manhattan.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
The snowy scene on Whitney Avenue in New Haven, Conn.(Stan Godlewski / Hartford Courant)
A couple walk along the Brooklyn Bridge.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Blizzard conditions make driving difficult on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Brooklyn.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
A man skis across the Brooklyn Bridge.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
A man helps a police officer get his cruiser out of the snow in Baltimore.(Karl Merton Ferron )
A snowplow clears Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.(Francois Xavier Marit / AFP/Getty Images)
New York canceled bus service because of the snowstorm.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
A man crosses a windy snowy street in Manhattan.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times )
A car owner digs out in Brooklyn.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Snow falls heavily in Manhattan on Saturday morning.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times )
Pedestrians trudge through heavy snow falling on Manhattan.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
New Yorkers don boots, gloves and parkas against the wind and snow.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times )
A woman and her dog have the streets mostly to themselves in Brooklyn as heavy snow pounds the East Coast.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
A plow clears a street Friday in Bowling Green, Ky.(Austin Anthony / Associated Press)
Workers shovel snow on the Martin Luther King bridge in Roanoke, Va., as snow falls Friday morning.(Stephanie Klein-Davis / Associated Press)
Cars drive in difficult conditions in southwest Roanoke County, Va., as a blizzard hits the Eastern United States.(Erica Yoon / The Roanoke Times)
Taylor Mushtare scrapes ice and snow from her car in Old Southwest Roanoke, Va.(Heather Rousseau / Associated Press)
A woman strolls along Campbell Avenue at First Street with her dog as snow falls Friday morning in Roanoke, Va.(Stephanie Klein-Davis / Associated Press)
A customer looks at the heavily depleted bread section of a grocery store, as shoppers prepare for an approaching snowstorm in Alexandria, Va.(Michael Reynolds / EPA)
Snow gathers on a swing set in Highland Park in Roanoke, Va.(Heather Rousseau / Associated Press)
Donald Summit plows the sidewalk along Williamson Road in Roanoke, Va., as snow falls Friday morning.(Stephanie Klein-Davis / Associated Press)
Bashon Mann and his children sled down a hill on Capitol Hill in Washington as snow falls around them. It may have taken an act of Congress, but the children of Washington are finally welcome to go sledding on Capitol Hill.(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
Cesar Gonzalez builds a snowman in Oxford, Miss.(Bruce Newman / Associated Press)
Barbara Davis walks her dog Haddix in Bowling Green, Ky. Snow and drizzle began falling early Wednesday across much of Kentucky and Tennessee, leading school districts and some universities to cancel classes and officials to warn motorists to drive carefully.(Miranda Pederson / Associated Press)
Shoveled snow is piled in the plaza east of the Capitol in Washington.(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
Secret Service officers and pedestrians in front of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue after a light snow storm.(Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)
Tara Jakeway with Chasing News makes an angel in the man-made snow in New York’s Central Park during Winter Jam NYC’s Ultimate Snow Day, a free festival for people to learn to ski, snowboard and sled.(Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images)
Beth Bryant takes part in a parents-vs.-kids snowball fight at Bowling Green Junior High School in Kentucky.(Austin Anthony / Associated Press)
In Bismarck, N.D., the Pioneer Family monument on the mall of the state Capitol is covered in frost.(Tom Stromme / Associated Press)
A city worker blows snow from a sidewalk in Knoxville, Tenn.(Amy Smotherman Burgess / Associated Press)
A snow plow works on clearing the Volunteer Parkway as snow falls in Bristol, Tenn.(Earl Neikirk / Associated Press)
A bicyclist has his hands full as he pedals through the snow in Bristol, Va.(Andre Teague / Associated Press)
Nick Morgan shovels sidewalks of Indiana Woods Apartment complex in Evansville, Ind.(Erin McCracken / Associated Press)
Work continues at the Howell Railroad Yard in Evansville, Ind., with a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. Another round of snow is forecast for Thursday.(Denny Simmons / Associated Press)
Atley Osborne and her sled part ways as she slides down Reitz High School’s practice field hill in Evansville, Ind.(Denny Simmons / Associated Press)
A woman braves snowy conditions in Washington.(Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP/Getty Images)
A man clears a sidewalk in Washington.(Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP/Getty Images)
Millions of Americans awoke Saturday to heavy snow outside their doorsteps as a mammoth winter storm crawled up the East Coast, making roads impassable, shutting down mass transit and bringing the nation’s capital and its largest city to a standstill.
Most people seemed to heed warnings to stay home and off the roads, which were mostly empty. But the worst was yet to come, with life-threatening blizzard conditions expected to persist throughout the day. In addition to snow and high winds, the National Weather Service predicted up to a half-inch of ice accumulation in the Carolinas and potentially serious coastal flooding in the mid-Atlantic.
“Find a safe place and stay there,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser implored residents and visitors alike.
The long-anticipated storm was living up to the billing that meteorologists had given it, except overnight it started to look even bigger. So forecasters increased their snowfall predictions for New York City and points north.
The storm now looks to be especially severe almost all the way to Boston, said forecaster Patrick Burke at the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Md.
Eighteen to 24 inches was predicted for Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, 24 to 30 inches for areas just north and west of Interstate 95 outside the cities and 15 to 20 inches for New York, Burke said.
“This is kind of a top 10 snowstorm,” said weather service expert Paul Kocin. And for New York and Washington this looks like top 5, he said. “It’s a big one.”
In Kentucky, where some places got 18 inches on Friday, drivers on a long stretch of Interstate 75 south of Lexington got stranded overnight because of a string of crashes and blowing snow. The road was closed, but reopened early Saturday, with traffic moving slowly, said Buddy Rogers, spokesman for Kentucky Emergency Management.
It was unclear exactly how many motorists were stuck. Crews passed out snacks, fuel and water and tried to move cars one by one. Some had been stranded since Friday afternoon, and emergency shelters had opened.
Motorists also were reported stranded along pockets of the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the Allegheny Mountain Tunnel in Somerset County. The National Guard was called to help, said turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo.
In the Washington metro area, nearly 2 feet of snow was on the ground by Saturday morning. The federal government closed its offices at noon Friday and all mass transit was to be shut down through Sunday. President Obama was one of many who stayed home.
In Silver Spring, Md., about 20 inches of snow had fallen by daybreak.
Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled. Plows cleared a heavily traveled road for ambulances and trucks, but few other vehicles were moving. A couple of intrepid people walked along the cleared portion of the road, ducking into the deeper snow when vehicles approached.
Other states that got more than 6 inches included Delaware, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Parts of Georgia and Alabama received 1 to 3.5 inches.
In New Jersey, 40,000 people were without power early Saturday, most of them along the coast.
Even before the snow began to fall Friday afternoon, states of emergency were declared. Lawmakers went home, and schools, government offices and transit systems closed early from Georgia to New York.
About 7,600 flights were canceled Friday and Saturday — about 15% of the airlines’ schedules, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware. They hope to be fully back in business by Sunday afternoon.
One of the unlucky travelers stranded by the storm was Jennifer Bremer of Raleigh, N.C. Bremer flew into Chicago on Thursday morning, carrying only a briefcase, for what she thought would be less than a day of meetings. Her flight home was canceled Thursday night, then again Friday.
Not so unhappy to be stranded were passengers on a cruise ship that was supposed to return to the port of Baltimore from the Bahamas on Sunday. The arrival has now been delayed until at least Monday because of the storm.
The snowstorm was greeted happily at Virginia’s ski resorts.
“We’re thrilled,” said Hank Thiess, general manager at Wintergreen resort in central Virginia. “Going forward, we’re set up to have just a terrific second half of the ski season.”
He said he was expecting 40 inches of dry, powdery snow, perfect for skiing.
“We’re going to have a packed snow surface that will just be outstanding,” he said.