Inclement Weather: Expect Delays

Monday, December 21, 2009

Millions of people along the East Coast are in for potentially dicey commutes as they return to work Monday after a weekend winter storm dropped record snowfall, interrupted holiday shopping and stranded travelers.

The Associated Press reports that the storm crept up the coast on Saturday and Sunday, walloping states from the mid-Atlantic to New England. The storms caused hundreds of delayed and canceled flights, widespread power outages and treacherous driving conditions. The weather was also blamed for several deaths in North Carolina and Virginia.

The New York City Transit agency said it anticipated a normal rush hour Monday morning as hundreds of subway employees worked overnight to finish cleaning platforms.

Even as workers return to the job Monday, their children in some cases have the day off. 

The School District of Philadelphia and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia canceled classes for 195,000 public school and Roman Catholic school students to give the city another day to clear roads and sidewalks. Public schools in parts of Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and New York also are closed today.

Meanwhile, airports in the Northeast that were jammed up this weekend are working their way back to normal operations. Two of the four runways at Dulles International Airport in Washington reopened Sunday. Reagan National reopened its main runway, which handles all commercial traffic.

By early Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration was reporting that all major airports on the East Coast had average flight delays of less than 15 minutes.

Still, three major airports in the New York City area are expecting an unusually busy holiday travel season as many who were stranded by the cancellation of 1,200 flights over the weekend try to make it to their destinations.

The backup wasn't limited to the air. Amtrak reported that some trains in the East would be canceled Monday because of the storm and that long-distance trains to the South and West faced substantial delays.

Power outages remain an issue. Nearly 200,000 people are without power in North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia, and more than 500 people are in shelters.

The storm came on the last weekend before Christmas, and merchants feared they'd take a hit as the storm blew through, shutting people indoors. Crowds were unusually light Sunday morning at the Providence Place mall in downtown Providence, where Reuben Tillman III, a salesman at Champs Sports, said he had made only one sale in his first couple of hours at work.

"But I do have a theory: Everybody who's here has a SUV," he said. "This is happy truck day."

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