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article imageU.S. residents wake up to the white stuff on East Coast

By Nathan Salant     Jan 23, 2016 in Environment
New York City - Millions of northeastern U.S. residents woke up to a carpet of white snow Saturday as the largest storm in years crashed the East Coast, leaving tall drifts, blocked roads and power outages in its wake.
At least nine people have been killed in storm-related incidents from the Carolinas to New York since Friday, when the massive storm approached and prompted emergency declarations and flight cancellations.
Officials in affected states warned of continued risk of coastal flooding as waves of snow all day Saturday.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio asked residents to stay home as much as possible and to use mass transit if they had to go out.
“Unless it is urgent, stay off the roads,” de Blasio said, according to the New York Times.
“It’s as simple as that,” he said.
Meanwhile, governors of 10 states declared emergencies, thousands of flights were cancelled and more than 100,000 people in North Carolina lost electricity.
In the nation's capital, the regional transit service closed down for the weekend, the newspaper said.
The National Weather Service predicted a "potentially crippling winter storm," which was promptly nicknamed "Snowmageddon 2016" by social media users on Twitter.
Hundreds of National Guard members were put on standby in Virginia, and hundreds of extra beds were added to homeless shelters in Baltimore, the newspaper said.
Atlantic coast residents said it could be days before everyone was dug out of the snow.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said the storm had "life-and-death implications."
NWS meteorologists agreed with the dire assessments.
“Temperatures are going to be into the upper-20s into the low-30s,” meteorologist Rich Otto said.
“When you combine that with extremely heavy snow, blowing wind — which will generate whiteout conditions — if you are trying to venture outside, it could be life or death,” Otto said.
The storm's high winds created flooding concerns in New Jersey and Long Island, which endured considerable flood damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
In fact, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the Times that he was even more concerned about flooding than snow.
“Flooding can do tremendous, tremendous damage, as we’ve learned the hard way,” he said.
Many schools and government offices closed early Friday in anticipation of the storm and many activities -- including at the White House -- had to be were postponed.
Two sold-out concerts by country music star Garth Brooks in Baltimore were postponed, the newspaper said.
U.S. President Barack Obama put off a planned ceremony at the White House where he planned to present medals to scientists and tech innovators.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan streamed live pictures of the storm reaching the National Mall in Washington, the newspaper said.
In New York, Cuomo activated state emergency operations centers in New York City and Long Island to monitor storm developments and direct resources where needed.
“The winter storm is expected to have a significant impact with potentially hazardous conditions, and we are taking all necessary precautions to keep New Yorkers safe,” Cuomo said.
“We encourage New Yorkers in the downstate region to stay informed, plan ahead, and avoid any unnecessary travel as the storm progresses,” he said.
Eastern state officials also advised residents to take the following steps if they get trapped in their cars by inclement weather or drifting snow:
-- Stay in your car and wait for help;
-- Run engine for short periods of time to stay warm;
-- Keep down-wind window open and make sure exhaust pipe is clear;
-- Turn on the dome light at night when you are running the engine to signal rescuers;
-- Hang a brightly colored piece of cloth or piece of clothing from vehicle.
-- Exercise from time to time to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
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