A massive winter storm system packing cold air, snow and freezing rain was bearing down on the US east coast, causing federal and local offices in Washington to close yesterday after it pummeled the central US over the weekend.
The US National Weather Service predicted the storm would bring up to 23cm of snow to the Washington area. Votes scheduled for yesterday in the US House of Representatives and Senate were postponed, and District of Columbia Public Schools have canceled classes.
The storm “is going to be a real mess,” said Bruce Sullivan, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Silver Spring, Maryland.
“The main system is injecting a lot of moisture and cold air out over the Southern Plains,” he said. “It’s going to bring quite a bit of precipitation.”
Rainfall and snow associated with the system stretched over 2,400km from southeastern Colorado to southern Massachusetts, meteorologists said.
About 2,000 flights were canceled and 5,600 were delayed as of early evening on Sunday due to the storm, according to the airline tracking site FlightAware.com.
“Ripple-effect flight delays and cancelations are likely to reach nationwide,” AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
Boston and New York City should see only light snowfall, but lingering freezing rain could complicate the morning rush hour for commuters.
By Sunday afternoon, up to 23cm of snow had already fallen on parts of Indiana.
More than 40,000 homes in northeast Ohio were without power due to downed transmission lines, said Chad Self, a spokesman for utility provider First Energy.
Most customers should have power restored by late yesterday, the utility said.
Central Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky were also at risk for heavy ice conditions and power outages, AccuWeather said.
Though temperatures will not be as frigid as during some other storm systems this winter, when the so-called polar vortex pushed Arctic air across large swaths of the county, the cold air will blanket areas as far south as Texas and North Carolina.
Forecasters urged motorists to use caution because slick roads and fast-moving bands of snow could cause traffic accidents.