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Second big snowstorm hits US East Coast

Washington, February 10, 2010

The second major snowstorm in less than a week hit the US East Coast, with predictions of 14 inches (36 cm) or more stretching from Washington, DC, to New York City, forcing the UN to close and the US Congress to curtail legislative action.

Government offices in Washington will be closed on Wednesday -- the third straight day at a cost of roughly $100 million in lost productivity per day -- and the National Weather Service predicted the US capital could get upward of 14 inches (36 cm) by Wednesday night.

The United Nations said its New York headquarters will be closed on Wednesday due to the storm. The US National Weather Service predicted up to 14 inches (36 cm) of snow in New York and Washington, with Baltimore forecast to get up to 20 inches (51 cm) and Philadelphia up to 19 inches (48 cm).

Forecasters also were predicting strong winds that could cause additional power outages.

The Office of Personnel Management said federal agencies in the Washington area will be closed on Wednesday. US government emergency employees were expected to report for duty as scheduled but other workers were excused for the day.

Residents were still trying to dig out from record snowfall of 18 inches (46 cm) to 32 inches (81 cm) last weekend from Washington to southern New Jersey. Some tried to restock refrigerators and clear fallen trees before the new storm arrived.

The latest storm has been dubbed "Snoverkill" and "Snomageddon 2.0" and prompted many Washington-area schools to call off classes for the rest of the week. Even the battle-tested New York public school system said it would be closed on Wednesday.

The city of Boston, also expecting to be hit by the storm, declared a snow emergency.

'I love it'

"I love it. I can handle one more round," said government lawyer David Kaplan, 50, as he shoveled snow off his roof in Takoma Park, Maryland, just outside Washington. He spent the past few days sledding and building a luge run in his yard.

But Kaplan also said he spent a fair amount of time shoveling his driveway and roof. "It's hard work and I hope never to do it again," he said.

The cold weather helped push heating oil futures higher.

There still were a few thousand customers without power in the Washington area while subway and bus services were limited.

The US House of Representatives canceled votes for the week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would not be in session on Wednesday but would resume work on Thursday. He said he doubted the Senate would have any votes this week. Many congressional hearings were also called off.

AMR Corp's American Airlines canceled Wednesday flights in and out of Washington's three area airports as well as Philadelphia. Late flights on Tuesday also have been nixed so that planes are not stranded in the snow, the airline said.

Carriers also once again relaxed their ticket policies to allow passengers to change flight plans around the storm. Both moves could cloud the outlook for an industry already hard hit by the battered economy.

US Airways canceled its hourly shuttle service between Washington and New York for Wednesday while Amtrak passenger rail service warned of limited service along its lucrative Northeast corridor.

The storm left a battered Midwest in its wake, with canceled flights in Chicago and up to 17 inches of snow in Iowa, one of the largest hog-producing states. The marketing of hogs was disrupted, helping Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures to rise to their highest level in six months.

"This snowy weather creates miserable conditions for livestock in feedlots," said Harry Hillaker, an Iowa state climatologist. "It is difficult to get feed to them and to keep water lines from freezing."

Livestock traders said the inclement weather has caused cattle to lose substantial weight, with producers having to feed the cattle more just to keep them warm.

"As of two weeks ago the weather damage to feedlot gains converts to a 2 percent drop in beef production. It doesn't include the last couple weeks of southern Plains storms so the current rate (of beef production) is probably even worse," said Rich Nelson, livestock analyst with Allendale. – Reuters




Tags: UN | New York | Congress | Washington | east coast | US storm |

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