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Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 01:09 GMT
US struggles to clear snow
A resident in the Washington metropolitan area clears the windscreen
Washington was stunned by 66cm of snow
Americans across the north-east struggled to get back to their normal routines on Tuesday after the worst winter storm in a decade.

At least 37 people are reported to have died in the blizzards, which at their heaviest dumped 1.24 metres (4 feet) of snow on the central Appalachian mountains in western Maryland.

Sixty-six centimetres (26 inches) of snow fell on Washington DC.

A Washington postal worker
A postal worker valiantly ploughs on through the snow
Airports have begun to reopen after the weather caused hundreds of flights were cancelled.

Subway services were also crippled and traffic is still crawling along in cities as far apart as Washington, New York and Boston.

Schools and most government agencies remain closed in many areas.

However, the National Weather Service said the heavy weather system responsible for the snow had weakened and moved offshore, and predicted only light snow flurries in most affected areas.

But forecasters have warned of continuing freezing conditions in the days ahead in many areas.

Small relief

And authorities have warned that it will take several days to clear up the mess.

Despite the large snowfall, other conditions have limited the damage caused, some emergency management officials have said.

"This has been one of those storms where things could go either way, and it's gone the right way every time for us," Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, told news agency AP.

The holiday weekend has meant less traffic, making snow ploughing easier.

Carbon monoxide deaths

At least four people died of carbon monoxide poisoning while inside their vehicles, the Washington Post newspaper reported.

Carbon monoxide may have been forced into the cars when snow blocked their exhaust pipes, as drivers left the engines running to keep warm.

One victim was a four-year-old girl in Montgomery County, Maryland, while two other children, aged 11 and 12, and a 55-year-old man died in Baltimore city.

Meanwhile, cash-strapped state governments and city mayors have been counting the cost of the blizzards, said to be the worst since those of 1996, when heavy snowfall was blamed for 80 deaths.

In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said each inch of snow cost the city $1 million. He predicted a total bill of at least $20 million.

The state of Maryland estimated costs of between $20m and $30m, the news agency AFX Financial reported.

See also:

17 Feb 03 | Americas
26 Dec 02 | Americas
25 Dec 02 | Americas
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