Monster blizzard paralyzes eastern, southern US with snow

CCTV News

Sean Jackson and Gina Del Tatto push their child, Hayes Jackson, in a stroller as heavy snow falls in New York's Upper West Side, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, as a large winter storm rolls up the East Coast. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) Sean Jackson and Gina Del Tatto push their child, Hayes Jackson, in a stroller as heavy snow falls in New York’s Upper West Side, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, as a large winter storm rolls up the East Coast. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the U.S. East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet (90 centimeters) of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down Washington and New York City.

CCTV America’s Nathan King reports from Washington:

Monster blizzard paralyzes eastern, southern US with snow

Monster blizzard paralyzes eastern, southern US with snow

A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the U.S. East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet (90 centimeters) of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down Washington and New York City. CCTV America's Nathan King reports from Washington.

After days of weather warnings, most of the 80 million people in the storm’s path heeded requests to stay home and off the roads, which were largely deserted. But more was yet to come, with dangerous conditions expected to persist until early Sunday.

Tian Tian woke up this morning to a lot of snow, and he was pretty excited about it. #Blizzard2016 ??

A video posted by Smithsonian's National Zoo (@smithsonianzoo) on

In addition to snow and treacherous winds, the National Weather Service predicted up to half an inch (1.25 centimeters) of ice for the Carolinas and potentially serious coastal flooding for the mid-Atlantic region.

“This is going to be one of those generational events, where your parents talk about how bad it was,” Ryan Maue, a meteorologist for WeatherBell Analytics, said from Tallahassee, Florida, which also got some flakes.

At least 12 deaths were blamed on the weather, most from traffic accidents.

The ice and snow canceled more than 4,400 flights on Saturday, bringing the weekend total to 6,300 flights. Airlines hoped to be back in business by Sunday afternoon.

CCTV America photographer Andrew Smith takes us through a day in the life after Friday’s blizzard.

A day in the life after first blizzard of 2016

A day in the life after first blizzard of 2016

CCTV America's photographer Andrew Smith takes us through the blizzard, with a little help from his dog.

The system was mammoth, dropping snow from the Gulf Coast to the northeasteren New England states. By early afternoon, areas near Washington had surpassed 30 inches (75 centimeters), according to the weather service’s running totals. The heaviest unofficial report was in a rural area of West Virginia, not far from Harper’s Ferry, with 40 inches (100 centimeters).

CCTV America’s Nathan King visited the snowy streets of Washington D.C. and encountered a stuck motorist:

Helping a stuck motorist in U.S. blizzard

Helping a stuck motorist in U.S. blizzard

A blizzard with gale-force winds paralyzed the southern and eastern United States on Saturday, dumping snow as millions hunkered down at home, hoping their food supplies would last and the power won't go out. Seven states declared a state of emergency, nine people were reported killed in accidents and parts of Washington were coated with nearly two feet (60 centimeters) of drifting snow. CCTV America's Nathan King caught up with one trapped motorist.

The ice and snow made travel treacherous, causing thousands of accidents and canceling nearly 4,300 flights on Saturday, the bulk of them at airports in the New York City and Washington metro areas. Another 1,235 flights were canceled for Sunday, according to flight tracking service Flight Aware. Airlines hoped to be back in business by Sunday afternoon.

King also showed us how hard it is to drive in D.C. right now:

Driving in D.C. after first blizzard of 2016

Driving in D.C. after first blizzard of 2016

A blizzard with gale-force winds paralyzed the southern and eastern United States on Saturday, dumping snow as millions hunkered down at home. CCTV America's Nathan King showed how hard it is to drive in Washington, D.C. today.

As the storm picked up, forecasters increased their snow predictions for New York and points north. The new estimates were for heavy snow nearly all the way to Boston, forecaster Patrick Burke said from at the weather service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

A state of emergency was declared in Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, New Jersey and parts of other states. Blizzard warnings or watches were in effect along the storm’s path, from Arkansas through Tennessee and Kentucky to the mid-Atlantic states and as far north as New York.

Eighteen to 24 inches (45 to 60 centimeters) were predicted for Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia; and 15 to 20 inches (37.5 to 50 centimeters) for New York, Burke said.

Scenes from first blizzard of 2016

A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the U.S. East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet (90 centimeters) of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down Washington and New York City. View some scenes of the world of white here.

[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_17.jpg]1690Big Snowstorm
This image made available by NASA via Twitter posted on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, by space station commander Scott Kelly, shows a view from the International Space Station of a storm passing over the United States. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping snow, stranding travelers and shutting down the nation's capital and its largest city. (Scott Kelly/NASA via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_aptopix_big_snowstorm_new_york__social-mediacctv-america-com_12.jpg]1230APTOPIX Big Snowstorm New York
Snow is cleared along a street in the Upper West Side neighborhood of New York Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in the wake of a storm that dumped heavy snow along the East Coast. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_1.jpg]1020Big Snowstorm
Maok Niebaur, 25, shovels snow for an elderly neighbor in Alexandria, Va., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. Millions of Americans were preparing to dig themselves out Sunday after a mammoth blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-setting snowfall brought much of the East Coast to an icy standstill. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_2.jpg]940Big Snowstorm
A military Humvee is seen on the streets driving past piled up snow, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Washington. Millions of Americans started digging themselves out Sunday after a mammoth blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-setting snowfall brought much of the East Coast to an icy standstill. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_5.jpg]970Big Snowstorm
Rhianna McCarte, 30, clears snow from her car, before digging it out, in Alexandria, Va., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. Millions of Americans were preparing to dig themselves out Sunday after a mammoth blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-setting snowfall brought much of the East Coast to an icy standstill. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_6.jpg]910Big Snowstorm
A man digs out his car after he got stuck in snow on a hill in Alexandria, Va., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. Millions of Americans were preparing to dig themselves out Sunday after a mammoth blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-setting snowfall brought much of the East Coast to an icy standstill. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_7_0.jpg]870Big Snowstorm
Young ladies wear animal onesie pajamas during an organized snowball fight at Dupont Circle Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016 in Washington. People throw snow during an organized snowball fight at Dupont Circle Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016 in Washington. Millions of Americans were preparing to dig themselves out Sunday after a mammoth blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-setting snowfall brought much of the East Coast to an icy standstill. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_maryland__social-mediacctv-america-com_8.jpg]870Big Snowstorm Maryland
Lawrence Kniffen shovels snow outside his home in Parkville, Md., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. Millions of Americans were preparing to dig themselves out Sunday after a mammoth blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-setting snowfall brought much of the East Coast to an icy standstill. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_maryland__social-mediacctv-america-com_9.jpg]800Big Snowstorm Maryland
Wind-blown snow buries vehicles, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Parkville, Md. Millions of Americans were preparing to dig themselves out Sunday after a mammoth blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-setting snowfall brought much of the East Coast to an icy standstill. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_new_york__social-mediacctv-america-com_4.jpg]760Big Snowstorm New York
Snow is cleared near a street vendor's location on New York's Times Square Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in the wake of a storm that dumped heavy snow along the East Coast. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_new_york__social-mediacctv-america-com_10_0.jpg]730Big Snowstorm New York
Joggers make their way along a snow covered road in New York's Central Park Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in the wake of a storm that dumped heavy snow along the East Coast. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_new_york__social-mediacctv-america-com_11.jpg]720Big Snowstorm New York
Pedestrians run along a snow covered road in New York's Central Park, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in the wake of a storm that dumped heavy snow along the East Coast. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_new_york__social-mediacctv-america-com_19.jpg]690Big Snowstorm New York
Michael McDonald attempts to pull his friend's car out of snow in Irvington, N.Y., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. As his friend steered and gently accelerated, McDonald was able to get the car out of the snow and up the hill. (Seth Harrison/The Journal News via AP) NYC LOCALS OUT
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_pennsylvania__social-mediacctv-america-com_13.jpg]710Big Snowstorm Pennsylvania
Cars are buried as Camp Hill, Pa., residents deal with piles of snow Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers. (Mark Pynes/PennLive.com via AP)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstrom__social-mediacctv-america-com_3.jpg]640Big Snowstrom
Eli Bokor, 2, is pulled in a laundry basket by his father Ben Bokor down a snow covered 15th Street in southeast Washington, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. Washington is digging out after a mammoth blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-setting snowfall brought much of the East Coast to an icy standstill. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_pennsylvania__social-mediacctv-america-com_15.jpg]630Big Snowstorm Pennsylvania
Good Samaritans help a stuck motorist in front of City Hall in Philadelphia as snow falls over the region Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. (David Swanson/Philadelphia Daily News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_pennsylvania__social-mediacctv-america-com_14.jpg]630Big Snowstorm Pennsylvania
Motorists dig out a stranded vehicle along an exit from Roosevelt Boulevard on Saturday morning, Jan. 23, 2016, in Philadelphia. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_pennsylvania__social-mediacctv-america-com_16.jpg]600Big Snowstorm Pennsylvania
Shovelers remove snow in front of the Municipal Service Building in Philadelphia as snow falls over the region Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. (David Swanson/Philadelphia Daily News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_pennsylvania__social-mediacctv-america-com_18.jpg]580Big Snowstorm Pennsylvania
Snow covers the bridge over the Yellow Breaches Creek in New Cumberland, Pa., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A massive winter storm buried much of the U.S. East Coast in a foot or more of snow by Saturday, shutting down transit in major cities, stranding drivers on snowbound highways, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people. (James Robinson/PennLive.com via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_27.jpg]1240Big Snowstorm
Belongings where homeless people are known to sleep are covered in snow on a bench in a downtown park in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. Millions of people awoke Saturday to heavy snow outside their doorsteps, strong winds that threatened to increase through the weekend, and largely empty roads as residents from the South to the Northeast heeded warnings to hunker down inside while a mammoth storm barreled across a large swath of the country. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_new_york__social-mediacctv-america-com_10.jpg]970Big Snowstorm New York
Travelers navigate snow covered steps at the Union Turnpike subway station in the Queens borough of New York during a snowstorm Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a travel ban in New York City and on Long Island, saying all non-emergency vehicles should be off New York City's roads after 2:30 p.m. Saturday. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_new_jersey__social-mediacctv-america-com_6.jpg]1020Big Snowstorm New Jersey
People walk on a snow-covered road during a snowstorm, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Jersey City, N.J. A massive winter storm buried much of the U.S. East Coast in a foot or more of snow by Saturday, shutting down transit in major cities, stranding drivers on snowbound highways, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_30.jpg]1041Big Snowstorm
Jasmine Wang walks in front of the Lincoln Memorial in the snow, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 in Washington. Millions of people awoke Saturday to heavy snow outside their doorsteps, strong winds that threatened to increase through the weekend, and largely empty roads as residents from the South to the Northeast heeded warnings to hunker down inside while a mammoth storm barreled across a large swath of the country.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_new_york__social-mediacctv-america-com_25.jpg]1010Big Snowstorm New York
Passersby try to help a stranded motorists as snow falls, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in the Queens borough of New York. Millions of Americans awoke Saturday to heavy snow outside their doorsteps as a mammoth winter storm crawled up the East Coast, making roads impassable, shutting down mass transit and bringing the nation's capital and its largest city to a standstill. (AP Photo/Daniel P. Derella)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_noaa_clouds__social-mediacctv-america-com_21.jpg]850NOAA Clouds
This NOAA satellite image taken Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 at 12:45 p.m. EST, shows a complex winter storm system that reaches from eastern Tennessee into the Deep South and New England. This winter storm is bringing a devastating amount of snow and mixed precipitation to most of the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England. Moderate to heavy snowfall is expected to continue into late tomorrow morning for much of the East Coast. (Weather Underground via AP)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_pennsylvania___social-mediacctv-america-com_17.jpg]860Big Snowstorm Pennsylvania
Snow and ice gather on the face of Xavier Malfliet as he shovels out his car in front of his Spring Garden Township, York County, Pa. home Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. (Jason Plotkin/York Daily Record via AP)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_virginia___social-mediacctv-america-com_1.jpg]840Big Snowstorm Virginia
Matt Matsenov shovels the sidewalk in front of his Winchester, Va., home on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A massive winter storm buried much of the U.S. East Coast in a foot or more of snow by Saturday, shutting down transit in major cities, stranding drivers on snowbound highways, and knocking out power to tens of thousands of people. (Ginger Perry /The Winchester Star via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_virginia__social-mediacctv-america-com_3.jpg]810Big Snowstorm Virginia
A pedestrian walks down an empty boulevard in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. Portions of Virginia are under a blizzard warning. A massive winter storm buried much of the U.S. East Coast in a foot or more of snow by Saturday, shutting down transit in major cities, stranding drivers on snowbound highways, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_28.jpg]1090Big Snowstorm
Aquib Aslam walks in the snow as he looks down the National Mall towards the Washington Monument, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_aptopix_big_snowstorm_new_jersey__social-mediacctv-america-com_29.jpg]730APTOPIX Big Snowstorm New Jersey
A motorist shovels snow to free up a vehicle on the New Jersey Turnpike during a snowstorm, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Port Reading, N.J. Towns across the state are hunkering down during a major snowstorm that hit overnight. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_new_york__social-mediacctv-america-com_5.jpg]900Big Snowstorm New York
Pedestrians walk in New York, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A massive winter storm buried much of the U.S. East Coast in a foot or more of snow by Saturday, shutting down transit in major cities, stranding drivers on snowbound highways, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_massachusetts___social-mediacctv-america-com_20.jpg]420Big Snowstorm Massachusetts
A women walks towards the Steamship Ferry Terminal in Woods Hole, Mass., as a snowstorm continues, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A massive winter storm buried much of the U.S. East Coast in a foot or more of snow by Saturday, shutting down transit in major cities, stranding drivers on snowbound highways, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people. (Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via AP) BOSTON HERALD OUT, QUINCY OUT; NO SALES
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_pennsylvania___social-mediacctv-america-com_18.jpg]820Big Snowstorm Pennsylvania
Annie, a black lab, makes her style of snow angels in a Chambersburg, Pa., parking lot during a winter storm. Millions of Americans awoke Saturday to heavy snow outside their doorsteps as a mammoth winter storm crawled up the East Coast, making roads impassable, shutting down mass transit and bringing the nation's capital and its largest city to a standstill.(Markell DeLoatch/Public Opinion, via AP)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_pennsylvania__social-mediacctv-america-com_9.jpg]780Big Snowstorm Pennsylvania
A man walks along a pathway at Nesbitt Park in Kingston, Pa. on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 as snow covers the rocky ground. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the U.S. East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet (90 centimeters) of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down Washington and New York City. (Christopher Dolan/The Citizens' Voice via AP)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_aptopix_big_snowstorm_new_york__social-mediacctv-america-com_22.jpg]690APTOPIX Big Snowstorm New York
A man walks by Federal Hall National Memorial during a snow storm, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in New York. Millions of Americans awoke to heavy snow outside their doorsteps as a mammoth winter storm crawled up the East Coast. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm_virginia___social-mediacctv-america-com_4.jpg]740Big Snowstorm Virginia
Bill and Colleen Flynn ski across the Riverwalk Trail over the James River on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Lynchburg, Va. A massive winter storm buried much of the U.S. East Coast in a foot or more of snow by Saturday, shutting down transit in major cities, stranding drivers on snowbound highways, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people. (Jay Westcott/News & Daily Advance via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_aptopix_big_snowstorm_virginia__social-mediacctv-america-com_2.jpg]730APTOPIX Big Snowstorm Virginia
Tyler Ridge, left, Evan Oakes, and Stephen Biggs, relax in a snow fort in the median of Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A massive winter storm buried much of the U.S. East Coast in a foot or more of snow by Saturday, shutting down transit in major cities, stranding drivers on snowbound highways, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snow_storm_new_york__social-mediacctv-america-com_20.jpg]710Big Snow Storm New York
A group of travel advisors touring Manhattan lower their heads and umbrellas into the wind as they walk along Broadway near Trinity Church during a snowstorm, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snow_storm_pennsylvania__social-mediacctv-america-com_24.jpg]700Big Snow Storm Pennsylvania
Snow covers a statue of Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux outside the Consol Energy Center before an NHL hockey game between the Penguins and the Vancouver Canucks in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_7.jpg]680Big Snowstorm
Gary Utley, 27, of Alexandria, snowboards behind a Jeep driven by his friend, as snow falls, in Alexandria, Va., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down the nation's capital and its largest city. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_8.jpg]620Big Snowstorm
Meghan Murphy of Crofton, Md., adjusts the hat of her son Chase Murphy, 1, during heavy snowfall in front of the White House in Washington on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down the nation's capital and its largest city.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_11.jpg]640Big Snowstorm
A couple walks in blowing snow in Alexandria, Va., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down the nation's capital and its largest city. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_12.jpg]650Big Snowstorm
Harrison Feind of Boulder, Colo., takes a selfie with a snowman in front of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down the nation's capital and its largest city. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_13.jpg]670Big Snowstorm
Workers try to clear the entrance near a parking garage on L Street in northwest Washington on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down the nation's capital and its largest city. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_14.jpg]660Big Snowstorm
Jared Meyer of Chattanooga, Tenn., digs out his car from the snow, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 in Arlington, Va. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down the nation's capital and its largest city. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_15.jpg]640Big Snowstorm
A man uses cross country skies as he goes down M Street NW in the snow, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 in the Georgetown area of Washington. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down the nation's capital and its largest city. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_16.jpg]680Big Snowstorm
Headstones are nearly covered by snow at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 in Arlington, Va. A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill Saturday, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down the nation's capital and its largest city. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_19.jpg]650Big Snowstorm
A car is buried under snow on a residential street in Alexandria, Va., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. One in seven Americans will get at least half a foot of snow outside their homes when this weekend's big storm has finished delivering blizzards, gale-force winds, white-out conditions and flooding to much of the eastern United States. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_23.jpg]690Big Snowstorm
A couple uses plastic shopping bags to protect their shoes as they walk in Alexandria, Va., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. One in seven Americans will get at least half a foot of snow outside their homes when this weekend's big storm has finished delivering blizzards, gale-force winds, white-out conditions and flooding to much of the eastern United States. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/scenes-from-first-blizzard-of-2016/thumbs/thumbs_big_snowstorm__social-mediacctv-america-com_26.jpg]600Big Snowstorm
A man walks past a mountain of snow created by snow plows on King Street in Alexandria, Va., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. One in seven Americans will get at least half a foot of snow outside their homes when this weekend's big storm has finished delivering blizzards, gale-force winds, white-out conditions and flooding to much of the eastern United States. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

“This is kind of a top 10 snowstorm,” said weather service winter storm expert Paul Kocin, who co-wrote a two-volume textbook on blizzards. And for New York and Washington this looks like top 5, he said. “It’s a big one.”

In Washington, monuments that would normally be busy with tourists stood vacant. In the morning, the steps of the Lincoln Memorial had not been cleared off and looked almost like a ski slope. At the Korean War Veterans Memorial, statues of soldiers were coated with snow, as was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.


Visibility was sharply reduced. On an average day, visitors can see from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument and the Capitol. But on Saturday, the Washington Monument was not even visible from the memorial to the 16th president.

All mass transit in the capital was to be shut down through Sunday.

By midday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed a travel ban in New York City, ordering all nonemergency vehicles off the roads. Mayor Bill de Blasio urged Broadway theaters and restaurants to close. The city’s commuter rails and above-ground segments of the subway were to shut down too, along with buses.

#blizzard2016 #logancircle #churchstreet

A photo posted by Teal Baker (@teal.b) on

Cab driver Mian Ayyub said he tried to pick up fares Saturday morning but gave up after getting stuck four times in two hours. Police and passers-by helped get him free.

“I’ve been driving a cab 28 years, but this looks like the worst.” He parked in the East Village and went home.

A miles-long backup of vehicles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in western Pennsylvania included a church group from Indiana.

Father Shaun Whittington said he and his 96 parishioners, mostly teenagers, were on their way home Friday evening from the March for Life anti-abortion protest in Washington when the turnpike turned into a snowy parking lot. Plows finally arrived at midday Saturday.

Hundreds of drivers were also stranded overnight in Kentucky on a long stretch of Interstate 75 south of Lexington because of a string of crashes and blowing snow. Crews passed out snacks, fuel and water and tried to move cars one by one.

The snow alone would have been enough to bring the East Coast to a halt. But it was whipped into a maelstrom by winds that reached 75 mph (120 kph) at Dewey Beach, Delaware, and Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, according to the weather service.

From Virginia to New York, sustained winds topped 30 mph (48 kph) and gusted to around 50 mph (80 kph), Burke said. The wind was so strong that scientists reported trouble measuring the snow because it sometimes seemed to blow sideways.

I'm ready for my hot toddy please and thank you #blizzard2016 #snowzilla #harlem

A photo posted by Larissa (@reezespiezes) on

And if that weren’t enough, the storm also had bursts of thunder and lightning. Forecasters saw lightning out the window of the Weather Prediction Center, where meteorologists were camped out.

Stranded travelers included Defense Secretary Ash Carter, whose high-tech aircraft, known as the Doomsday Plane, couldn’t land at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland after returning from Europe. Carter was rerouted to Tampa, Florida, where he planned to wait for better weather.

Virginia’s ski resorts welcomed the snow.

Hank Thiess, general manager at Wintergreen ski resort in central Virginia, said he expected to have “just a terrific” second half of the season. He was expecting 40 inches (50 centimeters) of dry, powdery snow.

“We’re going to have a packed snow surface,” he said, “that will just be outstanding.”

Story by the Associated Press