Nightly News   |  March 06, 2013

Mid-Atlantic hit with power outages

The heavy wet snow prompted Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to declare a state of emergency as more than 200,000 residents lost power.  In Chicago, a roof collapsed under the weight of the snow and parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania were also hit hard. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> lot of folks in the eastern u.s. , here we go again. take a look at a live picture from point pleasant, new jersey. an angry atlantic ocean , winds expected to gust to 60 miles per hour before it's all over. and while there is really good news tonight for the folks where this winter storm didn't pan out, the bad news is, it covers a wide area. some places are getting a lot more precipitation than they expected. of it's bringing a lot of trouble to a lot of people. that includes snow. hundreds of thousands of people without power in eight states. it shut town federal offices in washington today. and as we mentioned, this is going to be a nervous night up and down the seaboard with tonight's high tide and then again tomorrow. the shoreline so torn up from hurricane sandy, and in some places driven by high winds and big waves, the water is already coming on to land. nbc's tom costello is at dulles international airport outside d.c. , which got about 5 inches of snow. tom, good evening.

>> reporter: yeah, brian, good evening. not so much. they call this heart attack snow. it is wet and it is heavy. the expectation that washington was going to get hammered caused the airlines to cancel flights, schools, government offices all closed. and while washington was largely spared, out west it is a different story. what a difference 70 miles and a little elevation can make. front royal , virginia , covered in 17 inches of a wet, heavy march snow. enough to turn roads dangerous, sidewalks impassable.

>> our car is actually stuck so we're trying to move it.

>> western maryland and virginia both got buried. power outages up and down the mid atlantic . nearly 200,000 without power in virginia alone, where the governor declared a state of emergency . in chicago today , a roof collapse under the weight of yesterday's snow. ohio and pennsylvania also hit hard. more than 2,000 flights cancelled from the east coast to the midwest. d.c. 's national airport , a ghost town . delays systemwide, averaging one to three hours.

>> i'm supposed to fly home tonight so i'm hoping i can get home tonight .

>> reporter: the same storm was supposed to bury the nation's capital in the biggest storm in two years. to prepare, government offices and schools closed down, but the capital got more slush than snow. what happened?

>> we just didn't have the cold air that we needed to produce a snow event here at the capital. it was not produced by the storm, and it did not come in from the storm.

>> reporter: but along the new jersey and new york shorelines, torn apart by hurricane sandy, voluntary evacuations today. mike mirtha is on long island.

>> everybody is anxious right now. the water comes up, we're going to take another pounding.

>> reporter: wcau reporter jesse gray is near atlantic city .

>> here along the jersey coast, this is more of a wind event than a rain event. as a matter of fact,ites not raining right now, but the wind is blowing. 40 miles per hour sustained. gusting to above 50 miles per hour.

>> reporter: back in virginia , clean-up from what may be the last and only snowstorm of the year. meteorologists are saying that this is an example of why the u.s. needs a better super computer for forecasting. brian, the european model essentially said that for d.c. this was going to be more of a rain event, but the u.s. model said no, more of a snow event. again, the european model got it right. as for tomorrow, so far about 124 flight cancellations. back to you.