POST TIME: 24 January, 2016 00:00 00 AM
‘Snowzilla’ blizzard blankets eastern US
Forecasters predict the blizzard could dump more than two feet of snow in Washington

‘Snowzilla’ blizzard blankets eastern US

Snow plows clean the snow from a street during a snowstorm in downtown Washington, DC on Friday. AFP PHOTO

AFP, WASHINGTON: A deadly blizzard with bone-chilling winds and potentially record-breaking snowfall slammed the eastern US on Saturday, as officials urged millions in the storm’s path to seek shelter—warning the worst is yet to come.
US news reports said at least eight people had died by late Friday from causes related to the monster snowstorm, which is expected to last until early Sunday.
Forecasters predict the blizzard could dump more than two feet (61 centimeters) of snow in Washington, DC and the surrounding area by late Saturday, leaving residents holed up indoors as they ride out the storm.
Robert Maloney, director of Baltimore’s office of emergency management, said that as of about 1100 GMT Saturday that city had already been smothered by about a foot (30 centimeters) of snow—and he added there was a lot more to come.
“I wouldn’t say we’re even halfway there yet,” Maloney told CNN.
A blizzard warning was in effect for a large swath of the eastern United States from Washington up to New York, as battalions of snow plows and salt spreaders labored through the night and into Saturday.
The storm is expected to affect about 85 million Americans—about one quarter of the US population. Before it’s all over, it could cause more than $1 billion in damage, NWS officials said.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican presidential contender, left the campaign trail in New Hampshire to oversee the emergency response in his snowbound state.
Christie ordered the state’s bus and light rail to stop running at 2 am (0700 GMT) Saturday, then took to Twitter to reassure residents that the crisis was well in hand.
“The overall message is, we will get through the storm. We always do. That is the way we do things in NJ,” the Republican governor tweeted.
Several southern states, meanwhile, were also hit by snow and sleet—unusual for the region—with tens of thousands without power.
In Kentucky, thousands of motorists became stranded overnight on a backup along a 35 mile (56 kilometer) ice-slickened stretch of Interstate 75, and remained trapped on the road early Saturday.
All along the east coast, frantic shoppers emptied grocery store shelves in preparation for the storm—dubbed “Snowzilla” by some US media—and schools and government offices in Washington were all closed.
“I think it’s going to be a disaster,” Sharonda Brown, a nurse, said as she waited for an Uber car with a full cart of groceries at a Washington supermarket stormed by shoppers. Winds were expected to pick up overnight, prompting Washington’s police chief Cathy Lanier to urge residents to stay indoors.
“With the increasing winds and increasing snow accumulation, now we’re going to see more and more people stranded,” she told CNN. Crews were out clearing the roads throughout the US capital, while others turned to shovels.
Among them was 28-year-old William Duren, who was clearing a sidewalk outside a downtown Washington hotel.