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Monday, January 25, 2016, 10:14

Blizzard: Washington shuts down govt

By Reuters

Blizzard: Washington shuts down govt
Workers remove snow on the tarmac at Ronald Reagan National Airport, with the US Capitol dome seen behind, Jan 24, 2016 in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon)

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON - Washington shut down US federal government offices on Monday, while New York prepared for a normal workday following the worst snowstorm in decades to ravage the US East Coast, as residents of both cities frolicked in the freak snowfall.

Midtown Manhattan came back to life on a bright and sunny Sunday as residents and tourists rejoiced in the warming sunlight, digging out buried cars, heading to Broadway shows and cavorting in massive drifts left by New York City's second-biggest snowstorm in history.

In Washington, where a traffic ban was still in effect, the recovery got off to a slower start, with the entire transit system closed through Sunday. The Office of Personnel Management said federal government offices in the Washington area will be closed on Monday, along with local government offices and schools.

Even so, many people were out in the street. Some skied and snowboarded down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial until security officials moved them on.

The entire region seemed to breathe a sigh of relief after the historic storm that left at least 20 dead in several states.

"For us, snow is like a normal winter," said Viola Rogacka, 21, a fashion model from Poland, walking with a friend through New York's Times Square. "It's how it should look like."

Theater shows reopened on Broadway after the blizzard forced them to go dark on Saturday on the recommendation of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"We still have some areas that we have to do a lot more work on. But we've come through it pretty well," de Blasio said on ABC's "This Week." "I think tomorrow is going to be pretty good.

We think we'll be broadly up and running again at the city tomorrow."

HISTORIC STORM

Blizzard: Washington shuts down govt
People clear snow from parked cars on Henry Street in the Chinatown neighborhood in N ew York on Jan 24, 2016. (AP Photo / Peter Morgan)

The blizzard was the second-biggest snowstorm in New York City history, with 26.8 inches of snow in Central Park by midnight on Saturday, just shy of the record 26.9 inches set in 2006, the National Weather Service said.

Thirteen people were killed in weather-related car crashes in Arkansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia on Saturday. One person died in Maryland and three in New York while shoveling snow. Two died of hypothermia in Virginia, and one from carbon monoxide poisoning in Pennsylvania, officials said.

Reinsurer Munich Re said it was too early to estimate losses from the storm.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted a travel ban on New York City-area roads and on Long Island at 7 am (1200 GMT) on Sunday. A state of emergency declared by Cuomo was still in place.

A spokeswoman for the New York Stock Exchange said the market planned to open as usual on Monday. City schools also were set to open on Monday.

RECORDS SET

The National Weather Service said 22.4 inches fell in Washington at the National Zoo, and Baltimore-Washington International Airport notched a record 29.2 inches. The deepest regional total was 42 inches at Glengarry, West Virginia.

Washington, which has a poor track record in dealing with snow, seemed unready for a return to its Monday routine after its largest snowstorm in decades, with major airports, public buses and subways completely shut down all Sunday. Metro trains will begin limited service starting at 7 am on Monday.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser earlier issued a public apology for commuting headaches caused by the blizzard, which locals dubbed "Snowzilla." She said crews had worked all night and Sunday on plowing main roads and were just now getting to secondary roadways and neighborhoods.

Public schools were closed on Monday across much of the Washington and Baltimore region, with some shuttered through Tuesday. All federal government offices will be closed on Monday and the US House of Representatives canceled its voting until Feb 1 and the Pentagon canceled all its events.

FLIGHTS CANCELED

More than 3,900 flights were canceled on Sunday, and some 900 were called off for Monday, according to aviation website FlightAware.com.

Among New York-area airports, John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia were open, with limited flight activity expected on Sunday, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.

About 150,000 customers in North Carolina and 90,000 in New Jersey lost electricity during the storm but most service had been restored by Sunday afternoon.

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