A blast of winter weather knocked out power to thousands and wiped hundreds flights off the boards Monday after causing dozens of wrecks, including one that tangled up about 50 cars, on snowy and icy roads in the Northeast.
Major cities along the East Coast faced a tough commute to start the workweek, and they were in for a second round of winter weather on Tuesday. Forecasters said that Washington could get 3 to 5 inches of snow, Philadelphia 1 to 3 inches and New York at least an inch.
“It will be quite a 48 hours for that region,” said Kevin Roth, a lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel.
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The first round of weather came from Texas and the Mid-South, where marathons were canceled in Dallas and Memphis, Tenn., over the weekend and dozens more holiday events had to be scrapped. Upwards of 22,000 Dallas-area residences and businesses were still without power Monday, the electric utility Oncor told the Associated Press.
As the system moved northeast, it wrought havoc on the roads. The biggest tie-up was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where a driver got out of his car after a minor accident and then was struck and killed himself.
That set off a chain reaction of crashes behind him, ultimately involving about 50 cars and shutting down part of the turnpike for seven hours.
In New Jersey, a car slid off Interstate 78, killing two people. Icy roads triggered a 24-car pileup late Sunday night just north of New York City, causing scattered minor injuries, police said.
And a 20-car crash early Monday closed southbound lanes of Interstate 95 for two hours near Greenwich, Conn.
A foot of snow fell Sunday in Newark, Del., 11 inches in Penns Grove, N.J., and 10 inches in Charlestown, Md., the National Weather Service said.
Snow coated four NFL games. There was so much at the Philadelphia Eagles’ game against the Detroit Lions that workers had to use snowblowers to clear the yard markers, and the referee told teams during the pregame coin toss that he would improvise if the coin landed on an angle.
More than half of the country’s flight cancellations Monday were at Dallas-Fort Worth, the biggest hub for American Airlines. DFW was trying to clear its backlog from the weekend, but the effort was complicated by freezing fog.
Across the country, there have already been more than 6,100 flight cancellations since Saturday, according to FlightStats.com — including more than 2,800 by American or its American Eagle regional airline.
As the East tried to navigate its tricky commute, a second blast of arctic air was close behind. Temperatures in the single digits or lower covered the map Monday morning as far west as Oregon, east to Wisconsin and south to Arizona and Missouri.
“I don’t think things are going to warm up anytime soon,” said Bruce Sullivan, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
Tom Niziol, a winter weather expert at The Weather Channel, said that the low-dipping jet stream would move east and accelerate, with such strong upper-level winds that it would become known as a “jet streak.”
Scott Anderson / The Journal Times via AP
Authorities patrol the vacant southbound lanes on Interstate 94 in northern Racine County, Wisconsin, after the southbound lanes were shut down due to numerous accidents on Sunday.
The result was expected to be another day of hazardous driving and flight cancellations in the Northeast on Tuesday.
Forecasters said that snow, sleet and freezing rain would slicken the roads again just in time for the Tuesday morning commute. By early Wednesday, Washington could get as much as 5 inches of snow, with lesser amounts in Philadelphia, New York and Boston.
“They went from a snowstorm on Sunday to ice on Monday to another snowstorm on Tuesday,” Roth said. “The morning commute into D.C. is going to be pretty tough, and obviously air travel will be hampered.”
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
First published December 9 2013, 12:50 PM