UPDATE: 7:55 p.m. EST — The blizzard sweeping across the East Coast of the country has left 18 people dead, the Associated Press reported Saturday. Three people died in New York while shoveling snow, and medical examiners were working to determine the exact causes of their deaths. The storm is expected to be among the worst to ever hit the city.
In the nation’s capital, both Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport were expected to remain closed through Sunday. Conditions there forced both Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Ash Carter to have their flights diverted to Florida, the Hill reported.
UPDATE: 3:45 p.m. EST — The Associated Press has put the current death toll resulting from the winter storm at 12, including a fatal heart attack caused by shoveling snow and crashes on icy highways and streets.
New Jersey's coastal areas took a heavy pounding from the severe winter storm that pounded the Northeast United States with snow Saturday, with flooding and huge tides recorded in some areas of the state still recovering from the 2012 Hurricane Sandy. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency Friday night, and New Jersey Transit suspended service a couple of hours later, WCBS-TV of New York reported.
The storm was part of a massive system that blanketed a large area stretching from Tennessee and Kentucky to New England. About 2 feet of snow swamped the Washington area, and hundreds of accidents and thousands of power outages were reported in the storm's path. New York City officials said a travel ban would go into effect at 2:30 p.m., and anyone out on the street after that would be subject to arrest.
Parts of Sea Isle City and Ocean City, New Jersey, reported flooded streets, and North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello said the flooding was so rampant it reminded him of what the area experienced with Sandy, WCAU-TV of Philadelphia reported. Hotels have reported wind damage, cars have been abandoned on the street, and thousands of New Jersey residents have been left without power.
— Sea Isle Chamber (@SeaIsleChamber) January 23, 2016
— Jonathan Long (@Jonathan_Long91) January 23, 2016
— City Of Atlantic (@CityOfAtlantic) January 23, 2016
Great Channel and Stone Harbor in New Jersey have seen so much flooding, the record set during Sandy was broken, Weather.com reported. Some areas of Ocean County have been under a voluntary evacuation order, while a mandatory evacuation order was issued for Barnegat.
Tidal flooding forced the closure of Route 30, which runs through Atlantic City, Saturday morning. Across the entire length of the New Jersey Turnpike, the speed limit was reduced by officials to 35 mph, but Christie warned people to stay off the roads until the storm passes.
Adding to the storm was the weekend’s full moon, which increased the size of the tides pounding the coast, NBC News reported. The high winds already reported may have pushed these high tides even farther up the coastline.
Snow totals were steadily increasing in many areas across the United States, and in some areas were heading to historic levels. About 20-25 inches of snow was expected in the Washington area, and if the level reaches 28 inches, it will be the largest snowfall on record in the district.
In the New York City area, snow totals have measured 6-12 inches, while in Philadelphia the unofficial count was at 17 inches as of 11 a.m., ABC News reported. New Jersey has seen 9-14 inches, while some areas of Virginia have seen as much as 30 inches of snow.
At noon, all Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus service in New York was suspended due to the weather, while subway service was to run with delays, DNAinfo.com reported. Commuter rail and above-ground subway service was to be suspended at 4 p.m. Service out of New York City’s airports, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia, was canceled as well.
Drivers have been experiencing significant road trouble, with parts of the Pennsylvania Turnpike turned into parking lots. The Duquesne men’s basketball team, traveling back to Pittsburgh from a game at George Mason, got stranded Friday night in the snow, and as of noon Saturday, the team still was stranded, the team’s Twitter account revealed.
We're not in this alone! Dukes hanging out with middle schoolers from Iowa on the bus stuck next to us pic.twitter.com/8vBWa1x68c
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) January 23, 2016
Students from as far as Nebraska were stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. About 330 students and chaperones from Omaha who were traveling home after attending the March for Life in Washington when they got stuck on the road, local media reported.
Just before noon, the National Guard arrived to help the stranded drivers, the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Twitter account said. Water and rations were being given to those stranded by fire and rescue crews Saturday.
Fire & rescue crew has been providing water & rations to stranded motorists @PA_Turnpike. Need assistance? Dial *11
— PennsylvaniaTurnpike (@PA_Turnpike) January 23, 2016
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday he was issuing a travel ban for later Saturday, closing roads in New York City, downstate New York and on Long Island by 2:30 p.m., local media said on Twitter. Two of the MTA’s train lines, Metro North and the Long Island Railroad, will be shut down starting at 4 p.m.