East Coast, emerging from blizzard, faces difficult commute

People clear snow from parked cars on Henry Street in the Chinatown neighbourhood in New York, January 24, 2016. (Peter Morgan, AP)
People clear snow from parked cars on Henry Street in the Chinatown neighbourhood in New York, January 24, 2016. (Peter Morgan, AP)

New York - The blizzard-blanketed Eastern US will confront a Monday commute slowed by slick roads, damaged transit lines and endless mounds of snow, after a weekend of sledding, snowboarding and staying put.

Authorities cautioned against unnecessary driving, airline schedules were in disarray and commuter trains will be delayed or cancelled for many as the work week begins after a storm that dumped near record snows on the densely populated Washington, DC to New York City corridor.

The last flakes fell just before midnight Saturday, but crews raced the clock all day on Sunday to clear streets and sidewalks devoid of their usual bustle.

Ice chunks plunging from the roofs of tall buildings menaced people who ventured out in Philadelphia and New York. High winds on Manhattan's Upper West Side kept the snow from entirely swallowing the tiny Mini Cooper of Daniel Bardman, who nervously watched for falling icicles as he dug out.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged people to leave their ploughed-in cars covered with snow all week after a one-day record of 67.6cm fell in Central Park.

Treacherous conditions remained as people recovered from a storm that dropped snow from the Gulf Coast to New England. At least 30 deaths were blamed on the weather, with shovelling snow and breathing carbon monoxide collectively claiming almost as many lives as car crashes.

Broadway reopened after going dark at the last minute during the snowstorm, but museums remained closed in Washington, and the House of Representatives postponed votes until February, citing the storm's impact on travel.

Flying remained particularly messy after nearly 12 000 weekend flights were cancelled. Airports resumed limited service in New York City, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, which said it got an entire winter's snow in two days. Washington-area airports remained closed on Sunday after the punishing blizzard.

Major airlines also cancelled hundreds of flights for Monday. Along with clearing snow and ice from facilities and equipment, the operators of airlines, train and transit systems had to figure out how to get snowbound employees to work.

Overall snowfall of 68cm in Central Park made it New York's second biggest winter storm since records began in 1869, and Saturday's 67.6cm made for a single-day record in the city.

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