Major Snowstorm Shuts Down Transportation Along East Coast Airlines are canceling thousands of flights from the Carolinas to New England. Washington, D.C., is shutting down the Metro, and roads and rails are expected to be impassible.

Major Snowstorm Shuts Down Transportation Along East Coast

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There is a blizzard warning in place tonight that stretches from Washington, D.C., to New York. Tens of millions of people are in the path of a storm that could bring as much as 2 and a half feet of snow to the Washington area. Schools throughout the region were closed today. The federal government shut down at noon. NPR's David Schaper reports that just about every mode of transportation except maybe sleds will come to a halt because of the storm.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: The mad travel scrambles began last night as those who had flights scheduled for today or this weekend tried to change their travel plans in order to leave Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport, for example, ahead of the storm. Michelle Carey is an attorney from Chicago who was working in the nation's capital.

MICHELLE CAREY: And when I heard about the snowstorm, I changed my flight (laughter). And my boss is still here, and he lives in Florida. And he can't get out, so he might get stuck here.

SCHAPER: At Washington, D.C.'s, Union Station, where Amtrak trains are still running but will be on a very limited schedule this weekend. Twenty-one-year-old Anna Russo was trying to get back to school in Philadelphia.

ANNA RUSSO: Well, I was originally supposed to go home tonight around 7 p.m. and take a bus home, but highways are shutting down. So I instead decided to get out as quick as I can and trains seemed like the safest option.

SCHAPER: Here at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, the departure board shows most flights to cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Nashville, Charlotte, New York, La Guardia, Washington, Dulles, Washington National and other cities are canceled. People who are here are trying to travel to the East Coast ahead of the storm.

MARIEFAUX MENAGE-SMALL: Actually, I have to catch a plane to go to Paris through New York.

SCHAPER: Mariefaux Menage-Small and her husband left Chicago this morning because their Saturday flight to New York is canceled, but now they won't be able to fly to Paris until Monday.

MENAGE-SMALL: Instead of spending one night or one day in New York, I'm going to spend three days. We're going to enjoy American TV in the room in New York. It's going to be fun.

SCHAPER: Actually, many travelers are taking the delays and cancellations in stride, understanding that this colossal snowstorm threatens the safety of anyone who tries to navigate through it.


MURIEL BOWSER: We have a forecast that I don't think we've had in 90 years.

SCHAPER: Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser.


BOWSER: It has life-and-death implications, and all the residents of the District of Columbia should treat it that way.

SCHAPER: The district's Metro transit system is shutting down for the weekend late-night. Baltimore is shutting down its transit system, too. Twelve to 18 inches of snow is forecast in Philadelphia, and New York could get a foot of snow, where Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city is throwing every resource it has at the storm.


BILL DE BLASIO: There'll be 2,300 workers per shift, 579 salt spreaders will be pre-deployed on Friday evening and we have 303,000 tons of rock salt on hand.

SCHAPER: In addition to the heavy deep snow, high winds of up to 50 miles an hour are a concern. Utilities are gearing up for widespread power outages, and officials in coastal areas are warning residents about possible flooding. Airlines have canceled all of their flights into and out of the hardest-hit airports tonight and Saturday. And some are taking additional steps to help with the snow removal.

ROSS FEINSTEIN: For example, we're not going to have any aircraft at any of these airports that are going to be impacted. We're going to move them out of the way from the storm system.

SCHAPER: American Airline spokesman Ross Feinstein says that will allow airport authorities to clear the snow faster without planes in the way. He says it also helps the airline get their planes back into service quicker and able to resume normal operations. David Schaper, NPR News.

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