Nightly News   |  February 10, 2010

Record-setting blizzard blasts East Coast

More fierce winter weather hit the Northeast Wednesday, with heavy snow causing trouble for millions of people from New York to Washington and beyond. The nation’s capital now has seen more snow than any winter in memory, passing the previous record set more than a century ago. NBC's Tom Costello reports.

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>>> begins now.

>>> good evening, from new york. we are alongside the famous 30 rockefeller skating rink tonight. this is the pummeling, punishing conditions tonight as a massive snowstorm bears down on the major metropolitan areas here in the east. washington , baltimore are getting their second big hit in less than a week, and look at the size of this storm. our friends at the weather channel estimate before it's over, it will impact 1 in 3 americans, 107 million people in 25 states, including ten of the 25 most populous states in the united states . talk about a ripple effect, the airlines have already canceled more than 2, 400 flights in this country. we are expecting anywhere from a foot to about 1.5 feet of snow, but again, the concentration is to the south. those metropolitan areas that just can't take another punch this winter. we have it all covered tonight. anne thompson is in central park not far from here. my friend al roker is here on the rink with us. to start us off, tom costello in already hard-hit washington , d.c. hard to believe here we go again.

>> reporter: absolutely, brian. good evening. we've still got winds here 30 to 40 miles per hour. in maryland , the governor estimates they got 20 inches on top of the 30 they got over the weekend. 17,000 homes thought to be without power in northern maryland , in d.c. , 1/4 of the snowplows have broken down at one point or another and tonight d.c. is largely paralyzed. for much of the day, blowing snow and a near whiteout covered the mid atlantic . the capitol nearly impossible to make out through blizzard conditions. while on the streets of d.c. --

>> i'm training for the olympics in washington .

>> reporter: the die-hards were turning to skies to get through it all. at 8:00 a.m ., only a light snow was falling, but by 10:00 the white house had disappeared. for a third straight day, the federal government is shut down. d.c. 's airports are closed and deserted. and area roads already glazed with layers of ice are now covered in even more snow. so dangerous the national guard has been called in to help transport emergency personnel.

>> it's very, very difficult conditions, the snow has been blowing, we are near blizzard if not at blizzard conditions. it's been a total whiteout. we had problems with apparatus responding around.

>> reporter: farther south near williamsburg, virginia, zero visibility led to a 50-car pile-up.

>> i come up on a stop and the cars are just parting left and right. i slid over and almost ran into the guard rail . i get up on this one, all the cars stopped.

>> reporter: in maryland , the entire state was enveloped in a blizzard today. wbal rob roblin is in baltimore .

>> where i am we had over 11 inches of snow on top of 27 inches of snow from last weekend. this is a real mess.

>> reporter: digging out won't be easy. much of the region already buried in up to 30 inches of snow now has another foot.

>> this is the walk to the subway, about a half mile. game on.

>> reporter: entire neighborhoods, cars and downed trees buried. in washington , a little girl named charlotte insisted she and george the snow shark were responsible for all of this.

>> you sleep with him on the night before you want him to snow and the next day it snows. maybe we can sell him to vancouver.

>> good idea, vancouver.

>> reporter: we have already this year in washington , broken the all-time record for seasonal snowfall. 55 inches. baltimore , they got even more, but the washington record goes back to 1899 . brian, back to you.