By Amir Vera and Derrick Hinds, CNN
The nation’s capital and surrounding regions received record-breaking snow Monday as a strong storm system works its way across the eastern US.
The federal government in Washington, DC, was closed Monday, and weather-related disruptions are being felt across the country. Many schools have canceled classes, and the hundreds of thousands of customers are without power. Two children were killed when trees fell on houses.
About 8.5 inches of snow was measured in Washington, making it the heaviest one-day snow total since January 2016 and eclipsing the one-day total from January 2019, CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said. Capitol Heights, Maryland, recorded 11.5 inches of snow and Baltimore/Washington International Airport reported 6.7 inches.
Severe weather across the East Coast left more than 530,00 customers without power as of Monday evening, according to PowerOutage.US. Virginia, by far had the most, with about 350,000.
Weather alerts are in effect on the West Coast as another storm batters the Pacific Northwest.
The winter weather, coupled with disruptions arising from Covid-19, caused a headache for air travelers. More than 2,700 flights in the US were canceled Sunday. More than 2,800 flights within, into, or out of the US have already been canceled, according to the tracking service FlightAware.
The Federal Aviation Administration extended a ground stop for Reagan National Airport to 5 p.m., but the FAA has since lifted the ground stop. A ground stop earlier placed on Baltimore/Washington International Airport was lifted early Monday afternoon.
Here’s a look at the latest developments:
New York City began salting streets Sunday evening in anticipation of 1 to 3 inches of snow during the morning commute, mayor Eric Adams said.
Temperatures tumbled into the 20s overnight which could lead to icing, NYC Emergency Management First Deputy Commissioner Christina Farrell added.
For those who are traveling, “move at a slower pace” and “don’t rush” Adams said. “We are ready to meet the storm head on,” Adams said.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency for five counties in preparation for the storm, which is expected to bring heavy snow, wind gusts, and coastal flooding in southern parts of the state. In Atlantic City, 9.5 inches of snow was reported.
Southwestern New Jersey received between 1 and 4 inches of snow, while the southeastern part of the state got somewhere between 6 to 11 inches, Murphy said. State officials said that as of 4:30 p.m. Monday, there were a little over 3,300 outages in the state, but approximately 1,800 of those originated from a car crash.
State police reported 160 accidents and 245 motorist requests for aide, said Col. Patrick Callahan, state police superintendent. US Route 40 was closed due to flooding issues, but there is no other major flooding besides this, he continued.
In coastal New Jersey, winds blowing over 30 mph pushed seas 2-3 feet over normal tide levels, resulting in a flooding high tide in Sea Isle City.
Mid-Atlantic and Southeast
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington closed all 21 museums and the National Zoo due to the snowstorm.
Schools were closed in Washington and Baltimore. Hazardous travel conditions made for dangerous morning and evening commutes.
Interstate 95 near Fredericksburg, just north of Richmond, was stopped northbound and southbound due to tractor trailer crashes, according to CNN affiliate WTVR-TV, which cited the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
“VDOT has more than 50 trucks deployed along I-95 in the Fredericksburg area, and VDOT and towing crews continue to work reach the scene of these incidents to remove the trucks, plow travel lanes, and treat the road,” the station reported.
In central Virginia, VDOT asked drivers to avoid eastbound i-64 between Charlottesville and Goochland because of large trees in the roadway, according to CNN affiliate WWBT-TV. The department says the fallen trees are preventing snowplows from clearing the interstate.
In Maryland, a SUV with four occupants collided with a snowplow, according to Shiera Goff, spokesperson for the Montgomery County Police Department. Two women and one man were pronounced dead at the scene, Goff said, and a fourth victim — a man — was taken to an area hospital where he is in critical condition.
The investigation into the cause of the collision is ongoing, Goff said.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser urged people to avoid driving if possible.
“I can’t emphasize enough right now that you should stay home, stay off the roads, allow our crews to work and protect yourselves,” she said.
The Virginia Department of Health will close all of its community vaccination centers Tuesday as a result of the snow accumulation and expected freezing temperatures overnight, according to a department statement to CNN.
The National Weather Service expects snow to taper off and the entire storm system to move offshore by early evening.
In Townsend, Tennessee, a 7-year-old died after a tree fell on a home, CNN affiliate WVLT reported.
“There are trees down all over the county, particularly here in Townsend, because we are right at the foothills of the Great Smoky National Park,” Blount County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Marian O’Briant said. “There are a lot of trees; it was kind of a wet heavy snow, so trees are still falling right now.”
In Metro Atlanta, a 5-year-old boy was killed when a tree fell onto his DeKalb County home early Monday morning, CNN affiliate WGCL reported. Firefighters believe strong winds combined with soft ground from recent rain caused the tree to fall.
Meanwhile, parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee had winter storm warnings overnight, many of which extended through midday and ended by early evening.
The weather service noted that, “although the ground is relatively warm because of the recent warm temperatures, the snow is expected to fall at high rates and accumulate even on roads.”
The snow should taper off from the west. Slippery roads and black ice conditions could persist or redevelop well into Tuesday morning.
Portions of western Kentucky have been dealing with flooding as streams continue to rise due to excess rainfall runoff, according to the weather service.
“It will take several hours for all the water from these storms to work through local drainage systems in urban areas,” the warning said. Between 2 and 4.5 inches of rain have fallen.
On Saturday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency due to severe rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and strong winds across the state, all in the wake of tornadoes earlier in the week.
In the Pacific Northwest, a new system will bring heavy snow and travel hazards to higher elevations through Monday.
“A slow-moving cold front will produce 1-2 feet of snow for the northern Cascades and Olympic Mountains on Sunday before shifting focus to the southern Cascades on Monday, where 2-4 feet is likely,” the weather service said.
The system will also bring heavy rainfall to the coasts and valley regions where isolated areas could be at risk for flash flooding. Strong winds were also forecast across the region and high wind alerts were issued.
“These strong winds may cause significant blowing snow from dry powdery snow that is currently on the ground. This may result in significant reductions in visibility … especially over mountain passes and open terrain,” the weather service warned.
This reduced visibility will certainly lead to hazardous travel across the region to start the week.
Farther north in Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared a state disaster emergency in parts of the state following severe winter storms, extreme winds and extreme temperatures.
Dunleavy tweeted that heavy winds have flipped small planes, semi-trucks and damaged buildings.
“Alaskans, please stay safe out there, and rest assured the state is devoting every resource to protect our vulnerable communities,” Duleavy tweeted.
State troopers are warning of dangerous driving conditions and recommends travel only if “absolutely necessary.”
The weather remains relatively calm in the Midwest, but temperatures have been bitterly cold, with some areas of Minnesota and the Dakotas not seeing temperatures above zero since Friday.
The forecast calls for gradual warming and a chance of snow midweek, before temperatures drop again.
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CNN’s Joe Sutton, Taylor Romine, Jenn Selva, Pete Muntean, Taylor Ward, Amy Simonson, Haley Brink and Allison Chinchar contributed to this report.