NYC clears up after mammoth snowfall

Residents clear their street of snow in Union City, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Midtown Manhattan, after the second-biggest winter storm in New York history, January 24, 2016.Image copyright

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All travel in New York City, seen here from New Jersey, was banned on Saturday

A travel ban in New York City has ended as the eastern US begins digging out from the weekend’s massive snowstorm.

New York, the most populated city in the US, saw its second-highest snowfall since records began in 1869, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

As five states saw snowfall of three feet (91cm) or more, the hazards of shovelling snow were brought home by at least six deaths.

A further 14 people have died in other snow-related incidents since Friday.

Media in New Jersey said a mother and her year-old son died of carbon monoxide poisoning late on Saturday.

Police said the exhaust pipe of the car in which they were sitting was covered by snow, adding that the woman’s three-year-old daughter is critically ill.

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The storm, dubbed Snowmageddon and Snowzilla, is weakening and heading for the Atlantic Ocean.

It has affected some 85 million people, cutting power at one point to 300,000 people. The heaviest fall was recorded in Glengary, West Virginia, which had 42ins (107 cm).

Why was there so much snow?

Media captionTimelapse footage shows snow falling on the White House

Elements often come together to create snow, but not always in the same way and to this extent – it was the perfect winter storm

  • A low pressure system was able to transport and circulate huge amounts of moisture north from the Gulf of Mexico
  • The position of the jet stream allowed a low pressure system to be picked up and drawn northwards along the eastern seaboard
  • Very warm air falling into very cold air from the north and mixing meant there was only one thing that would happen – snow
  • Very strong winds: low pressure moves in one direction and high pressure in another and, much like cogs in a wheel, they increased the wind
  • The storm moved especially slowly, leading to more snow being dumped over a long time

In Washington DC, the metro remains closed and air travel in the region faces further disruption.

Some 7,000 flights were cancelled this weekend and disruption is to continue into the working week, with at least 615 cancelled for Monday.

Giant snowball fights broke out on Times Square, New York, overnight and in Dupont Circle, Washington DC, on Sunday morning.

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Snowfall in New York City was just 0.1in (0.25cm) short of the record

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Union City in New Jersey, across the water from Manhattan, saw particularly high snow drifts

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Washington DC residents turned out for an organised snowball fight on Sunday morning

By the time the snow had stopped falling after two days, late on Saturday, New York’s Central Park had received 26.8in, the second-biggest fall recorded since 1869.

The total was just 0.1in (0.25cm) shy of the all-time high, 26.9in, recorded in February 2006.

However, the 26.6in that fell in the park on Saturday alone was a one-day record for the city.

New York bridges and tunnels reopened on Sunday morning. Broadway shows, cancelled on Saturday, will take place again.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the Long Island Rail Road would remain out of action until at least Monday as the line had suffered “significant damage”.

“This one is a cautionary tale for all of us,” Mr de Blasio said on Sunday. “A storm that a day before, on Friday, was still being projected at eight to 12 inches, ends up being close to 27 inches.”

Media captionA look at the snowy scenes in several US states

States of emergency were declared in 11 states and in the District of Columbia.

DC director of homeland security Chris Geller warned on Sunday that roads would turn icy overnight, and urged people not to drive.

The capital’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, asked residents to help clear snow from the business district.

The US House of Representatives said it would not now vote on legislation on Tuesday and Wednesday due to the winter weather in Washington. The next vote is expected on 1 February.

In Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, drivers were stranded for hours on snowbound highways.

‘Intense exercise’

At least five people in the New York area died while shovelling or removing snow, the New York Times reports.

A sixth death was reported in Baltimore, Maryland, leading the city’s mayor to warn shovelling snow was an “intense, aerobic exercise” and for people to take caution.

Among other deaths attributed to the storm was that of a man in North Carolina who stopped to help a motorist whose car had veered off an icy road. Police said the Good Samaritan was shot by the man he had gone to help.

In Ohio, a teenager sledding behind an all-terrain vehicle was hit by a lorry and killed.

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A parked car coated in snow in Centreville, Virginia

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The streets of Washington DC were all but deserted

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A satellite image from 05:45 GMT on Sunday shows the blizzard heading out into the Atlantic

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