US govt back to business after record snowfall
The eastern US seaboard was spluttering back to life yesterday after a record snowfall paralysed the region for most of the week, as a rare winter chill swept across the normally balmy South.
In Washington, over 250,000 federal workers were struggling back to work after the government shut its doors for four days because of the two storms.
Wednesday's blizzard, on top of heavy weekend snowfall, affected tens of millions of people and turned the 2009-2010 winter into the snowiest ever on record for Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
It snapped air and rail links across much of the region, and left roads too dangerous to navigate. But the "snow days" holiday was over for most people Friday.
"Employees should plan to arrive for work no more than two hours later than they would normally arrive," the US Office of Personnel Management warned in a statement.
But it added that "employees who cannot report for work may take unscheduled leave."
Washington's public transportation system was also getting back to normal service after days of cancelled train and bus schedules.
Only six of the system's 86 stations remained closed as crews dig out the snow-clogged tracks, the Metro company said, with more than 600 buses on more than 300 routes operating Friday morning.
Most schools in the Washington-Baltimore area however are not expected to reopen until after Monday's President's Day holiday.
Unusual winter storm warnings were meanwhile posted for the southern US states from Texas through the Mississippi delta to the Georgia coast.
Parts of the southern region have not seen snow in a decade and were bracing for up to 14 inches (35 centimeters) in some areas.
Travellers had been hoping for some respite with northeast airports digging out of the record snow dump, after Washington's domestic Reagan airport logged 55.9 inches (1.4 meters) of snow for the season.
But the storm barrelling into southern states threatened to snarl movement into Valentine's Day weekend.
Anticipating snows in Atlanta, Georgia, the Delta airline cancelled some 400 flights from the city's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport -- a major hub for the US carrier, threatening an unwelcome ripple affect for other major cities.
With snow drifts several feet deep in many parts of the northeast, heavy lifting equipment and bulldozers were used to remove the snow as ploughs were unable to cope.
Exhausted residents however were warily eyeing the skies with forecasters warning of even more bad weather that could dump extra snow on the area Monday.
Figures from the National Weather Service officially logged record snowfalls throughout the region, with accumulation at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport registering 79.9 inches (2.02 meters) of snow -- soaring past the previous record of 62.5 inches (1.58 meters).