PHILADELPHIA — A winter storm that brought snow and ice to the East Coast moved offshore Friday after causing at least 25 deaths, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and causing a large pileup in Pennsylvania that injured 30 people.
The latest go-round of bad weather came just in time to delay tens of thousands of deliveries of Valentine's Day flowers, dropping snow, sleet and rain on roads already covered with deep puddles and icy patches.
Alexander Baez, 24, spent two hours digging out his car before navigating snow-covered roads to his job as a judicial marshal. "It will be a long, slow commute," Baez said as he filled his tank at a gas station in East Hartford, Conn. "I can't wait until the summer comes."
Traffic accidents involving multiple tractor-trailers and dozens of cars completely blocked one side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike outside Philadelphia on Friday morning and injured 30 people, none seriously. The crashes were reported about five hours after snow ended. Speed restrictions enacted during the storm had been lifted, but motorists say the roadway was coated with ice.
By the time it stopped falling, 22.5 inches of snow was reported in Somerset County, Pa. Parts of upstate New York got between 12 and 27 inches of snow.
The deaths included a pregnant woman struck by a mini-plow in New York City whose baby was then delivered by cesarean section and two people killed when they tried to aid a truck driver on a snow-covered interstate in North Carolina.
The sloppy mix of snow and sleet grounded more than 6,500 flights nationwide Thursday and about 2,100 more on Friday. About 1.2 million utility customers lost power as the storm moved from the South through the Northeast, dropping to about 450,000 outages by Friday morning, mostly in South Carolina and Georgia.
"Every time it snows, it's like, 'Oh, not again,' " said Randal DeIvernois of New Cumberland, Pa., which had about 10 inches of snow by midafternoon Thursday. "I didn't get this much snow when I lived in Colorado."
Many schools remained closed Friday in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia, while some in Rhode Island opened late.
Washington, D.C., received 9 inches of snow Thursday, Westminster, Md., reported 19 inches, and Newark, Del., had 14 inches. New York City received nearly 10 inches, and parts of New Jersey had more than 11.
Some parts of northern New England got more than 18 inches.
Nationwide, this is shaping up as one of the snowiest winters on record. As of early this month, Washington, Detroit, Boston, Chicago, New York and St. Louis had gotten roughly two or three times as much snow as they normally receive by this point in the season.
The latest round of bad weather threatened to disrupt Friday deliveries of flowers for Valentine's Day. "This storm could not have been worse for us," said Donna Mahair, owner of the Petal Patch flower shop in Newport, N.H., where more than a foot of snow fell. "All the schools are closed so all the deliveries that were going to the schools, we now have to track down the people they were going to."