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Signs of relief from historic blizzard

Nineteen are dead and thousands are without power along the east coast.
By Daniel Uria and Ann Marie Awad   |   Jan. 23, 2016 at 9:03 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The National Weather Service reported the historic blizzard pounding the northeast showed signs of letting up Saturday evening.

New York City experienced one of the top three snowstorms in its history, with more than two feet of accumulation and nearly all travel banned.

At least 19 people are dead and thousands are without power along the northeast corridor. There were reports of record flooding Saturday morning along the Delaware and New Jersey Coasts. New York City and Long Island are under a travel ban until further notice.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo instituted the ban at 2:30 p.m., and later suspended public transit within the city. Cuomo warned drivers could face a fine if caught on the road.

"This is a major storm and travel conditions throughout downstate New York are dangerous. We are doing everything possible to keep the roads and mass transit operational, but unless there is an emergency people should not be traveling," he said.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAullife told drivers to stay off the road Sunday and Monday to allow crews to clean roadways.

Fatalities

A North Carolina man has been charged with fatally shooting a Good Samaritan who stopped to help him after his car slid out of control on an icy roadway. The Telegraph reported Marvin Jacob Lee was drunk when he lost control of his car, and allegedly shot Jefferson Heavner when Heavner tried to call the police.

A total of nineteen deaths -- mostly due to car accidents -- have been reported across North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky. Virginia police responded to 989 traffic crashes and 793 disabled vehicles on Friday according to WUSA. An additional 1,274 traffic collisions were reported in North Carolina.

Power Outages

More than two feet of snowfall has inundated areas from Virginia to New York, along with average winds of 70 mph. By Saturday afternoon, more than 100,000 power outages were reported in New Jersey and the Carolinas. Dominion Virginia Power reported more than 800 customers without power. Duke Energy reported more than 60,000 customers without power throughout North Carolina.

Road Conditions

The storm caused a 35-mile traffic jam on Southbound I-75 in Kentucky, leaving drivers stranded for more than 19 hours. Kentucky state police arrived on the scene to deliver food, water and other supplies to stranded drivers and shelters were set up on the area for stranded travelers.

Hundreds of drivers have been stranded on the Pennsylvania turnpike for more than 16 hours. The National Guard was called in Saturday afternoon to help dig out cars stuck in the snow.

Strong Winds and Flooding

Wind gusts as strong as 85 mph have been recorded in Virginia, with Delaware seeing top speeds of 73 mph according to the Weather Channel.

The strong winds caused by the storm, in combination with high tides caused coastal flooding in areas stretching from Virginia to New England.

50 people were forced to evacuate their homes in Atlantic City due to "significant flooding". Much of Ocean County, New Jersey is under a voluntary evacuation order due to the flooding, however the coastal town of Barnegat is under a mandatory evacuation order.

Travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were delayed, even more cancelled Saturday due to the storm, FlightAware.com reported. Baltimore/Washington International Airport ceased operations completely.

On a lighter note, House Speaker Paul Ryan's live feed from his office is providing some insight into the falling snow with some funky music and adorable panda Tian Tian played in the snow at the National Zoo.

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