A COLOSSAL blizzard has the USA’s east coast on lockdown with TWO FEET of snow expected to fall in just a few hours, The Sun reports. Record levels of the white stuff are set to blanket cities including Washington DC and New York as panicked Americans emptied the shelves of supermarkets in anticipation of a “potentially crippling” Storm Jonas.
Five states – Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina – have declared states of emergency, while another 11 have weather warnings in place, covering 70million Americans from Arkansas to New York. The conditions have already claimed a number of lives, with two drivers killed in North Carolina and a pedestrian dead in Maryland.
More than 300 troops have been drafted in as experts warned that flooding and power cuts could wreak havoc. The US capital has closed all schools on Friday, and its mayor, Muriel Bowser, warned: “I’ve lived in DC most of my life and I don’t know if I’ve lived through a forecast like this. It’s an extremely large storm.”
Even DC’s most famous resident could not escape the effects of the pending storm. A light flurry of snow had the city paralysed on Wednesday night with President Barack Obama’s motorcade stuck in the snow-covered roads around the White House for more than an hour.
US National Weather Service chief Louis Uccellini warned: “It does have the potential to be an extremely dangerous storm that can affect more than 50 million people.” American Airlines has cancelled the majority of its flights in the northeast of the country while the capital’s transport network will close all weekend.
Worried Americans formed long queues to strip shops of food essentials ahead of the wintry conditions. Remarkably, the snow storm is not predicted to be the heaviest that has befallen Washington DC. That dubious honour falls to the Knickerbocker Storm that dumped 28ins of powder on the capital in 1922.
The storm took its name after the weight of snow led to collapse of the Knickerbocker Theatre, killing 98 people.