Winter storm Nika: Second in a one-two winter punch will sock much of US
Winter storm Nika will affect weather from Colorado to Maine on Wednesday, on the heels of a Monday storm that dumped several inches of wet, heavy snow on the eastern US.
Kevin Goldy/The Independent/AP
A winter storm dumped several inches of wet, heavy snow on parts of the eastern United States on Monday, snarling commutes and Super Bowl fans' trips home, closing schools and government offices and cutting power.
Another winter storm, dubbed "Nika" by The Weather Channel, is likely to hit the region beginning Tuesday night, bringing a combination of rain, freezing rain and snow, said Gary Szatkowski, a weather service meteorologist in Mount Holly, N.J.
Perhaps residents shouldn't be surprised, considering groundhog Punxsutawney Phil on Sunday predicted six more weeks of winter. "I like to say Punxsutawney Phil agrees with me," he said. "Winter's not over, that's for sure."
Fat flakes fell in Philadelphia and New York on Monday, creating slushy sidewalks and streets and all but erasing all memory of Sunday's temperatures in the 50s. The storm began moving out of the region Monday afternoon, making way for another system, winter storm Nika, expected to sweep in from the Plains with ice and snow late Tuesday and early Wednesday.
The National Weather Service reported about 8 inches of snow near Frostburg, Md., while parts of southern Ohio and West Virginia got about 10 inches. Totals in the Philadelphia area ranged from 3 to 9 inches; New York saw as much as 7 inches by 3 p.m.
Government offices, courts and schools closed in parts of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and scattered power outages were reported throughout the region. Speed limits were reduced on many major highways.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency with travel conditions hazardous. Nonessential government employees were dismissed early.
By late afternoon, the flight-tracking website FlightAware reported more than 4,300 delayed flights and 1,900 canceled flights nationwide in cities including Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., and New York. Inbound flights to those airports were delayed one to three hours because of snow and ice.
Russ Louderback, of Fishers, Ind., and his 11-year-old son Mason had gone to New Jersey to see the Super Bowl but suffered a triple whammy of bad luck: Their beloved Denver Broncos lost, they got stuck in an hours-long traffic jam leaving the stadium and their Monday afternoon flight home was canceled.
"It was so congested we couldn't get out of New Jersey, even though we left early because our team lost," said Louderback, a hotel executive.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was among the stranded travelers after her return flight to Phoenix was canceled Monday, a spokesman said. Brewer attended the big game as part of the ceremonial handoff of hosting duties; next year's Super Bowl is in Glendale, Ariz.
Francois Emond, of Alma, Quebec, arrived at Newark Airport at 6 a.m. Monday to find his flight home had been canceled. Wearing a Seattle Seahawks championship hat and an ear-to-ear smile, he said he didn't care about the cancellation or the weather in light of Seattle's victory. He planned to spend an extra night at his hotel in New York.
"The night will be very short," Emond said. "When you win a Super Bowl for the first time, the night is very, very short."
In Connecticut, architect Frank Emery described messy conditions outside as he stopped at a coffee shop in New Haven.
"A lot of people must have called in sick after the Super Bowl," he said. "It's not cleaned up as well as usual."
In Philadelphia, the airport experienced weather delays as long as four hours Monday morning. But the flight home for Seahawks fan George Shiley, of Snohomish, Wash., remained on schedule at midday.
Shiley, a Seattle season ticket holder, had won a lottery for Super Bowl tickets. He and his buddy stayed in Philadelphia, about 85 miles southwest of the East Rutherford, N.J., stadium.
"It's been a great trip. I joked that 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' — and it was, until today," said Shiley, referring to the FX sitcom.
At least two deaths and one serious injury were blamed on the storm. In western Kentucky, where the snow began falling Sunday, a man died that night when his car skidded into a snowplow. On Monday, a New York City man was fatally struck by a backhoe that was moving snow.
A 10-year-old girl was in serious condition after she was impaled by a metal rod while sledding north of Baltimore.
Associated Press writers Verena Dobnik in New York; Samantha Henry in Newark, N.J.; Karen Testa in Philadelphia; Bob Christie in Phoenix; and John Christoffersen in New Haven, Conn., contributed to this report.
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