Storm-walloped East Coast returns to work slowly

Millions of East Coast commuters returned to work Monday on slick roads and icy sidewalks after a weekend winter storm dropped record snowfall.

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2009, 18:21 PM IST

New York: Millions of East Coast commuters returned to work Monday on slick roads and icy sidewalks after a weekend winter storm dropped record snowfall, interrupted holiday shopping and stranded travelers.

The storm crept up the coast on Saturday and Sunday, walloping states from the mid-Atlantic to New England, causing hundreds of delayed or canceled flights, widespread power outages and treacherous driving conditions. The weather was blamed for several deaths in North Carolina and Virginia.

But despite its powerful punch, many took solace in the timing of the storm and the knowledge that it could have been worse had it come during the work week. The weekend arrival helped minimize headache-inducing commutes and reduced frenzied efforts to dig out the car before heading for work.

In New York City, hundreds of subway employees worked overnight to finish cleaning platforms, but the Long Island Rail Road urged its riders to allow extra time.

Commuters found it slow going in Philadelphia, where many residential streets were still snow-covered and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority suspended service on some bus routes.

In Washington, the Metro finally was able to open all 86 rail stations — the subway system had been limited to underground stations for two days — but bus service was running behind schedule.

Even as workers returned to the job Monday, their children in some cases were being given the day off.

The School District of Philadelphia and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia canceled classes for 195,000 public school and Roman Catholic school students to give the city another day to clear roads and sidewalks. Public schools in Baltimore, Roanoke, Va., and many Long Island towns, among other areas, also were closed Monday.

Meanwhile, airports in the Northeast that were jammed up this weekend were working their way back to normal operations. Two of the four runways at Dulles International Airport in Washington reopened Sunday. Reagan National reopened its main runway, which handles all commercial traffic.
On Monday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration was reporting that all major airports on the East Coast had average flight delays of less than 15 minutes.
Still, three major airports in the New York City area were expecting an unusually busy holiday travel week as many who were stranded by the cancellation of 1,200 flights over the weekend try to make it to their destinations.

Bureau Report