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2nd Big Storm in Week Paralyzes East Coast

January 26, 1987|From Associated Press

The second major storm in less than a week choked the East Coast with up to 16 inches of wind-whipped snow today, paralyzing the nation's capital, closing major airports and scores of schools and giving thousands of federal and state government workers a holiday.

Many people had barely dug out from the paralyzing snowstorm that rolled up the East Coast last Thursday. Since then, at least 51 deaths have been blamed on the cold, snow and icy roads from Alabama to New England.

Winter storm warnings were posted from the mountains of North Carolina to southeastern Massachusetts.

"It's bad. Visibility is zero," said police Sgt. Charles Gibson on Nantucket Island off Massachusetts.

National Guard on Alert

National Guardsmen were put on alert in New Jersey to help with their big trucks.

"We're drowning in snow," said John Friedrich, a deputy emergency director for southern New Jersey's Cape May County, where guardsmen picked up patients who needed emergency care.

Philadelphia International Airport closed before daybreak. North Carolina's Charlotte-Douglas International Airport closed because of ice. Washington's Dulles and Baltimore-Washington airports also shut down, and National Airport closed for 2 1/2 hours.

"By the time they clean one end, the snow has drifted over the other end," a spokeswoman at Baltimore-Washington International said.

Work Optional

The federal government gave the 300,000 workers around Washington the option of when or whether to report for work. The Supreme Court did not convene and the House, with only a handful of members present, adjourned after five minutes.

Secretary of State George P. Shultz canceled an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Metro, the capital's transit system, had to shut down service periodically throughout the day to the 28 outdoor stations on the 70 1/2-mile subway system. The snow, wind and ice froze the "third rail" carrying power to the rail line, and many of the area's roads were impassable.

The few trains running were packed and moved slowly.

State Offices Closed

Most state offices in southern New Jersey closed and Maryland state workers were told to stay home.

Accumulations of new snow included 12 to 16 inches in southern New Jersey, nearly 14 in Talbot County, Md., and 10 at Lynchburg, Va., with 10 to 14 inches over most of southwestern Virginia and 9 inches in Alleghany County, N.C.

Schools closed in parts of Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, New York, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee.

Workers clearing highways in Pennsylvania had been working double shifts since Thursday, said Joe Maiola, a clerk for the Department of Transportation. "I don't even know what day it is," he said.

Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn appealed to commuters to leave their cars at home and use public transit. On Long Island, many people apparently stayed home as the snow came in the second week of a strike against the Long Island Rail Road.

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