A severe winter snowstorm--the worst since 1961--dumped 13 inches of snow on New York City, leaving it paralyzed.
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Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A severe winter snowstorm--the worst since 1961--dumped 13 inches of snow on New York City, leaving it paralyzed. This storm, plus another to the southwards, left the entire eastern third of the United States under a heavy snow-blanket, disrupting communications, leaving motorists stranded, and claiming the lives of 71 person. In places, the drifts were 20 feet high.
In New York City, the snow began at 8:07 pm on Sunday (12 January) and ended at 3:10am on Tuesday (14 January). Gusts of wind up to 58 miles an hour pilet it into fantastic shapes and huge drifts. All schools were closed, and many offices. Most of the major arterial roads leading into the city were either closed--or hopelessly jammed with stalled cars and drifting snow. Service on commuter railroads and bus lines was curtailed and irregular. Thousands of workers stayed in the city rather than risk the trip out to their homes in the suburbs, and by nightfall on Monday (13 January) all the city's major hotels were filled to capacity.
The fierce winds and blowing snow made it difficult to move in the city's streets. Motorists abandoned cars when they stalled--and many cars that had been parked on the city's streets were buried by plowed snow. The Sanitation Department of the city had eight thousand men out clearing the snow, but it was expected to be Tuesday evening at least before things were close to normal.
On Monday evening, thousands of office workers left their jobs early in order to get to homes in the suburbs. These people descended on the city's already strained railroad facilities shortly after 4:00 pm. The usual passenger load was swelled by thousands of others who were unable to use private automobiles for the journey. The result was crush of monumental proportions in the railroad stations. Many traveler found that it took longer to get from the entrance of the station to their trains than it did to make the ride homewards. In other instances trains ran up to three hours late--and some were cancelled. All were jammed.
Telephone facilities were similarly overloaded as the weather forced changes in plans.
In New York itself, temperatures fell to a low of 12 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees below freezing). The storm is held responsible for the deaths of 12 persons in the city itself.
In Florida, freezing temperatures in the northern part threatened much of the nations citrus corp. Elsewhere, many east coast airline flights were cancelled, as the snow forced airports to close. Few flights to Europe left.