Chaos as snowstorms hit U.S

  • Chaos as snowstorms hit U.S
    23.12.2008 16:35

    Last-minute Christmas shoppers shivered and travellers were left stranded as winter storms lashed the US from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon.

    The little town of Eustis, Maine, was hit by nearly three and a half feet of snow.

    In Marysville, Washington, north of Seattle, heavy snow collapsed part of the roof at the Whitley Evergreen factory, which makes modular buildings. No-one was injured.

    The 14.5-inch snowfall in Portland, Maine, surpassed the old record for December 21 of 12.4 inches, set in 1933. On the other side of the country, up to 13ins in Portland, Oregon, was the biggest snowfall since January 1980.

    Depending on how much more fell yesterday as the snow trailed off, the storm could rank as one of the city's 10 worst on record.

    Snowfall was relatively scant in the Midwest and East, but high winds whipped up snow along roadways and, along with ice, made driving hazardous for holiday travellers.

    For the mid-Atlantic states, the storm took the form of weekend snow and rain - followed by a cold snap early yesterday. High winds overnight cut off power to 13,000 homes and businesses in Maryland. Baltimore Gas & Electric said all but 1,200 had service restored by mid-afternoon.

    "It's beautiful, but it's a little crazy," said Linda Shane, who had to call for help when the snow jammed her car doors shut as she tried to get out of her driveway to go to work at Camden National Bank.

    At work, she looked out the window and said: "You can't see the gas station across the street."

    Nearly 50,000 customers remained without power across northern Indiana because of an ice storm last week. There were also more than 7,000 customers still out in Illinois yesterday and about 5,000 in north-west Ohio.

    The weather was blamed for at least 11 deaths over the weekend, including a collision between a car and a semi-trailer truck near New Carlisle, Indiana, that killed four Marines based near Detroit.

    In suburban Chicago, the frozen body of a 48-year-old mother of three was found on a pavement near her home; an autopsy showed she died of hypothermia.

    In the Seattle area, the city remained largely snowbound. Limited service resumed at Sea-Tac Airport, but thousands of people were stranded because of all the flight cancellations over the weekend.

    Some travellers said they had spent 12 hours waiting for a ticket agent, taking turns sleeping while others held their places in line. The baggage claim area was littered with mounds of unclaimed luggage.

    Hundreds were marooned even in Los Angeles, where the line to rebook Alaska Airlines flights to the Pacific Northwest stretched out of the door.