A new storm system was headed towards the Northeast on Saturday, just as millions from Texas to Maine struggled to cope with the aftermath of the season’s ugliest winter blasts yet.
The new storm was expected to dump up to 6 inches of snow on parts of the East Coast throughout the day, and the National Weather Service put up blizzard alerts throughout New England for Saturday.
But that's nothing compared to the monster storm that moved into New England Friday morning, which dumped 22.5 inches of snow on Pennsylvania, and as much as 27 inches in parts of upstate New York.
Grounded flights, ice-slicked interstates, sagging or collapsed roofs and thousands still without power — the storm's toll stretches from Texas to Maine.
The sloppy mix of wet snow, sleet and rain grounded more than 7,100 flights nationwide on Thursday and about 2,100 more on Friday, adding to the worst winter of cancellations for the airline industry on record.
About 1.2 million utility customers lost power as the storm moved from the South through the Northeast. More than 200,000, mainly in South Carolina and Georgia, were still in the dark Friday.
Many schools remained closed Friday in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and across New England, despite having long since spent their allotment of snow days.
The storm, which brewed in North Texas on Monday and lumbered east through the week, was blamed for at least 25 deaths.
"Every time it snows, it's like, 'Oh, not again,'" Randal DeIvernois of New Cumberland, Pa., told The Associated Press. "I didn't get this much snow when I lived in Colorado."
In Rockland County, N.Y., there were reports of three collapsed roofs Thursday night into Friday morning, officials said.
At West Rock Indoor Sports & Entertainment Center in Nanuet, two maintenance workers narrowly escaped after a section of the 40-foot-high ceilings came crashing down around 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday, an inspector told NBC News.
“This is the biggest collapse I’ve personally ever seen,” said Clarkstown assistant fire inspector Harold Straut, adding that the debris severed a gas line, which sparked a fire.
Even covering the storm was no picnic. Employees at NBC affiliate WGAL's studio in Lancaster, Pa., heard a “thunderous boom” around 3:20 p.m. and discovered that a portion of the roof in an adjacent studio that was no longer being used had collapsed. Fire officials later ordered roughly 100 employees of the station to evacuate.
Icy patches left some roadways slick, and a massive pileup on the Pennsylvania Turnpike around 8:20 a.m. involved as many as 100 vehicles caught in a chain reaction. The wreckage included overturned trucks and smashed-in SUVs. At least 24 people were hurt, although none of the injuries were life-threatening.
“We could see that the road had a lot of frozen ice on it,” Lisa Terreri, who was stuck in the traffic following the pileup, told NBC Philadelphia.
The driving remained treacherous late Friday in Vermont, where Greg Fox of the Vermont Agency of Transportation told the AP that upward of 70 cars, including three state plows, had slid off the road.
While it’s too soon to say what the economic toll of this latest wintry blast will be, one economist said the succession of storms since December has cost businesses $15 billion.
Airlines, for instance, have had to eat the cost of canceled flights. United said it lost $80 million in revenue from flights scrapped during the early January storms, the AP reported.
More than 1,400 flights were canceled as of Friday afternoon, and another 2,400 were delayed, according to FlightAware.com.
"As an industry, you are prepared for bad weather but I'm not sure if you are ready for this many events back to back," Savanthi Syth, an airline analyst with Raymond James, told the AP.
Worse still, there’s more snow to come for some beleagured areas, warned National Weather Service forecaster David Roth.
As much as 3 inches is predicted for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Saturday. The storm will intensify once it reaches Maine — potentially piling on another 1 to 2 feet by the time it moves off the coast.
Numerous cities in the Northeast were confronting shortages of rock salt used to de-ice roads.
Chuck Burton / AP
Drivers pack the roads as they leave downtown Charlotte, N.C. on Feb. 12, 2014, as a winter storm moves into the area.
First published February 14 2014, 2:16 PM