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Northeast commuters struggle with icy roads

Workers clear snow from westbound lanes of the Long Island Expressway in Shirley, N.Y., on Sunday. An epic storm that swept through last weekend left 1 to 3 feet of snow and was blamed for at least 18 deaths in the United States and Canada. 

Newsday

Workers clear snow from westbound lanes of the Long Island Expressway in Shirley, N.Y., on Sunday. An epic storm that swept through last weekend left 1 to 3 feet of snow and was blamed for at least 18 deaths in the United States and Canada. 

The workweek opened with a white-knuckle ride Monday in the snow-clobbered Northeast as drivers encountered unplowed streets, two-lane roads reduced to a single channel and snowbanks so high it was impossible to see around corners.

Schools remained closed across much of New England and New York, and more than 80,000 homes and businesses were still waiting for the electricity to come back on after the epic storm swept through on Friday and Saturday with 1 to 3 feet of snow that entombed cars and sealed up driveways.

The storm was blamed for at least 18 deaths in the United States and Canada, and officials warned of a new danger as rain and higher temperatures set in: roof collapses.

In hard-hit Connecticut, where some places were buried in more than 3 feet of snow, the National Guard used heavy equipment to clear roads in the state's three biggest cities.

"This is awful," said Fernando Colon, of South Windsor, Conn., who was driving to work at Bradley International Airport near Hartford on a two-lane highway that was down to one lane because of high snowbanks.

Most major highways were cleared by Monday, but the volume of snow was just too much to handle on many secondary roads. A mix of sleet and rain also created new headaches. A 10-mile stretch of Interstate 91 just north of Hartford to Massachusetts was closed briefly because of ice and accidents.

In New York, where hundreds of cars became stuck on the Long Island Expressway on Friday night and early Saturday morning, some motorists vented their anger at Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not acting more quickly to shut down major roads, as other governors did, and for not plowing more aggressively.

Cuomo has defended his handling of the crisis and said that more than one-third of all the state's snow-removal equipment had been sent to the area. He said he also wanted to allow people the chance to get home from work.

In the long weather history of the Northeast, the snowstorm wasn't that bad — it ranked 16th on one scale and 25th on another, according to initial data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The measuring systems take into account the size of the snowstorm, the amount of snow and how many people were in its path.

Northeast commuters struggle with icy roads 02/11/13 [Last modified: Monday, February 11, 2013 11:23pm]
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