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Within hours, the storm Jonas – already dubbed “Snowzilla” – was covered with a thick blanket of snow on the eastern United States, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people and forcing the authorities to mobilize, to clear snow and repair the damage.
The authorities said that the snow will continue throughout the weekend.
“I want to be very clear with everyone. We see this as a major and potentially deadly storm,” Mayor of the federal capital, Muriel Bowser said to the press.
A statement came echoing the day before the director of the National Weather Service, Louis Uccellini, which referred to a “potentially crippling storm” having “the potential to be extremely dangerous.”
Nearly 50 million people will be affected by the storm, dubbed “Snowzilla” by the Washington Post, referring to the destroyer of Japanese cinema giant lizard “Godzilla”.
No one was taken by surprise. For several days the weather websites predict the arrival of this record storm, all the media cover extensively.
“A low pressure area centered on southeastern United States will continue to create a major winter storm that will affect a large part of the east coast (…) from Friday and throughout the week- end “, warns the latest bulletin of meteorological services. They have issued blizzard warnings for several states.
“The snowfall could exceed 60 cm in some areas, including Baltimore and Washington,” they said.
The day before, they had also warned against the ice storm, strong winds (up to 90 km / h) and coastal flooding. Fifteen states should be affected, from the Atlantic coast (between New York and South Carolina) to Arkansas in the south.
In Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe has mobilized hundreds of members of the National Guard – soldiers of the federal state – for relief. It also has a reserve of 650,000 tons of salt to clear roads and eight million liters of liquid salt, he said on CNN.
Strong winds are particularly devastating in a country where the power grid is seldom buried. It is not uncommon that hundreds of thousands of people are without electricity for several days, even in affluent suburbs of Washington.
The first cuts began in North Carolina, where over 100,000 people are affected, according to the emergency services of that State. In Virginia, less than 2,000 people were without electricity according to the governor, but he has mobilized 60 other state electricians teams to help with repairs.
The US capital could suffer its greatest snowfall in nearly a century, and should be totally paralyzed because scarce, the Manager of its transport WMATA has decided to suspend the bus from 5:00 p.m. (2200 GMT) but also to close the subway from 11:00 p.m. (0400 GMT) for the whole weekend.
The metro is the second busiest in the country after New York, with about 700,000 passengers every day in normal times. It has never been closed as long as over 40 years of existence, according to the Washington Post.
– ‘Extremely dangerous’ –
Thousands of flights were also canceled as flightaware.com specialized site. Rail traffic is also reduced to the bare minimum.
Dating back to the east coast to the north, the storm should hit Saturday and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that the city could receive between 20 and 30 cm of snow.
If the forecasts are realized, the Jonas storm would place second in larger quantities of snow dumped in two days on Washington, the record having been established in 1922 with 66 cm fell in 48 hours.
Washington and neighboring states Virginia and Maryland were placed in emergency state.
The ice hockey (NHL) between Washington and Anaheim expected late Friday afternoon was postponed and another scheduled meeting twelve o’clock Sunday against Pittsburgh is on borrowed time. The NBA has also taken the lead and postponed basketball games planned Saturday in Washington and Philadelphia.
The people of the capital, where public schools were closed Friday were full of essential groceries to take all weekend, forming long queues in supermarkets.
The program for the weekend: stay warm, watch TV, relax and, if power cuts, read.
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