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Danziger: Chilled Out

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel.

Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

New York Rebounds After Blizzard, Washington Shuts Down Government

By Frank McGurty and Ian Simpson

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) — New York City emerged on Sunday from a massive blizzard that paralyzed much of the U.S. East Coast, while snowy gridlock gripped the nation’s capital and surrounding areas, where federal, state and local offices and schools planned to remain closed on Monday.

Midtown Manhattan sprang back to life on a bright and sunny Sunday as residents and tourists rejoiced in the warming sunlight, digging out buried cars, heading to Broadway shows and cavorting in massive drifts left by New York City’s second-biggest snowstorm in history.

In Washington, where a traffic ban was still in effect, the recovery got off to a slower start, with the entire transit system closed through Sunday. The Office of Personnel Management said federal government offices in the Washington area will be closed on Monday, along with state and local government offices and schools.

Even so, many people were out in the street. Some skied and snowboarded down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial until security officials moved them on.

The entire region seemed to breathe a sigh of relief after what was unofficially known as Winter Storm Jonas left at least 20 dead in several states.

“For us, snow is like a normal winter,” said Viola Rogacka, 21, a fashion model from Poland, walking with a friend through New York’s Times Square. “It’s how it should look like.”

Theater shows reopened on Broadway after the blizzard forced them to go dark on Saturday on the recommendation of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“We still have some areas that we have to do a lot more work on. But we’ve come through it pretty well,” de Blasio said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I think tomorrow is going to be pretty good. We think we’ll be broadly up and running again at the city tomorrow.”

HISTORIC STORM

The blizzard was the second-biggest snowstorm in New York City history, with 26.8 inches (68 cm) of snow in Central Park by midnight on Saturday, just shy of the record 26.9 inches (68.3 cm) set in 2006, the National Weather Service said.

Thirteen people were killed in weather-related car crashes in Arkansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia on Saturday. One person died in Maryland and three in New York while shoveling snow. Two died of hypothermia in Virginia, and one from carbon monoxide poisoning in Pennsylvania, officials said.

Reinsurer Munich Re said it was too early to estimate losses from the storm.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted a travel ban on New York City-area roads and on Long Island at 7 a.m. ET on Sunday. A state of emergency declared by Cuomo was still in place.

Most bus and subway services operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were up and running again by 9 a.m. ET, officials said. The agency was working on restoring full service on Sunday.

The Metro-North rail line, which serves suburbs north and east of New York City, was restored on Sunday afternoon and was operating on a Sunday schedule. Service remained suspended on the Long Island Rail Road.

Commuters who rely on the Long Island Rail Road to get to work on Monday may need to look for alternatives as the railroad works to restore service. Crews were working on Sunday to remove snow from an intersection near train tunnels to Manhattan.

A spokeswoman for the New York Stock Exchange said the market planned to open as usual on Monday. City schools also were set to open on Monday.

On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, grocery store shoppers picked their way through brown slush and over compressed snow and ice as they balanced their bags in their hands.

Drivers tried their best to free cars that were encased in snow, but often found themselves spinning their wheels as they tried to get on the road.

Outside the city, suburban New Jersey resembled Vermont.

“I’m not sure where I am right now because of all the snow,” said Patty Orsini, 56, a marketing analyst from Maplewood, New Jersey, at the nearby South Mountain Reservation. “It’s nice to be out today in the sun. Yesterday it was scary to be outside,” she said as she clipped on her cross-country skis.

RECORDS SET

The National Weather Service said 22.4 inches (57 cm) fell in Washington at the National Zoo, and Baltimore-Washington International Airport notched a record 29.2 inches (74.2 cm). The deepest regional total was 42 inches (106.7 cm) at Glengarry, West Virginia.

Washington, which has a poor track record in dealing with snow, seemed unready for a return to its Monday routine after its largest snowstorm in decades, with major airports, public buses and subways completely shut down all Sunday. Metro trains will begin limited service starting at 7 a.m. on Monday.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser earlier issued a public apology for commuting headaches caused by the blizzard, which locals dubbed “Snowzilla.” She said crews had worked all night and Sunday on plowing main roads and were just now getting to secondary roadways and neighborhoods.

Public schools were closed on Monday across much of the Washington and Baltimore region, with some shuttered through Tuesday. All federal government offices will be closed on Monday and the U.S. House of Representatives canceled its voting until Feb. 1 and the Pentagon canceled all its events.

Nevertheless, walkers, sledders, some cars and the occasional cross-country skier ventured into the dazzling white under a bright sun.

Paul Schaaf, a 49-year-old helicopter pilot for Children’s Hospital in Washington, was biking 7-1/2 miles (12 km) to work for his overnight shift and planned to bike back to Arlington, Virginia, on Monday morning.

“I have to get into work no matter what. And the best way to do it is on my bicycle with steel-studded snow tires,” he said. “Nothing stops me.”

One Washington food store, Broad Branch Market, opened with a handful of employees, and was trying to organize volunteers to shovel the sidewalks of the elderly and others who needed help.

“I have a lot of people on the list but I have yet to have any kids sign up to work today,” said owner Tracy Stannard.

At Dupont Circle, hundreds gathered to pelt each other with snowballs. Jomel Nichols, a tourist from Kansas City, Missouri, accompanying three exchange students and her daughter, was plastered with snow.

“They all turned on me, as teenagers will do,” she told Reuters Television.

FLIGHTS CANCELED

More than 3,900 flights were canceled on Sunday, and some 900 were called off for Monday, according to aviation website FlightAware.com.

Among New York-area airports, John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia were open, with limited flight activity expected on Sunday, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.

About 150,000 customers in North Carolina and 90,000 in New Jersey lost electricity during the storm but most service had been restored by Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday, moderate coastal flooding was still a concern in the Jersey Shore’s Atlantic County, said Linda Gilmore, a county public information officer.

(Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert and Susan Cornwell in Washington, David Gaffen, Sam Forgione, Barbara Goldberg and Robert MacMillan in New York, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Bill Rigby and Steve Gorman; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Sandra Maler)

Photo: Fresh snow covers the steps of the U.S.Capitol in Washington January 23, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Eastern U.S. Sees Warm Christmas, Winter Storm Looms For Plains

By Ian Simpson

(Reuters) – Much of the U.S. East Coast could see record high temperatures on Christmas Day and through the weekend even as a major winter storm looms for the southern Great Plains, forecasters said on Friday.

Temperatures are forecast to be more than 20 degrees above normal for the East Coast on Christmas Day, the National Weather Service said. Record highs were shattered on Thursday across the region, with Washington hitting 71 degrees Fahrenheit (21.7 Celsius) and New York topping out at 72 F (22.2 C).

Above-average temperatures will linger for the eastern United States through the weekend, with rain across the area raising the possibility of flash floods.

But in the western United States, winter was coming out in full force.

A storm system is expected to strengthen on Saturday and surge across the Rockies into the southern Great Plains, said lead forecaster Bob Oravec in College Park, Maryland.

“It’s going to be a pretty big, high-impact event coming up over the next few days,” he said.

An area from New Mexico to Oklahoma is under a blizzard and winter storm watch, with snow up to 2 feet (61 cm) possible for parts of New Mexico and northern Texas. Severe storms and heavy rain are possible in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

And in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains a winter storm dumped 2 feet (61 cm) of snow Thursday and Friday on Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Mountain Resort, according to an online tally for the getaway spot. Snow was still falling on Friday.

Facing delays stemming in part from severe weather this week, package delivery company FedEx Corp said it was manning customer counters with volunteers on Christmas Day.

“FedEx is doing everything possible to get customer shipments delivered by Christmas,” FedEx, which is based in Memphis, Tennessee, said in a statement.

A storm system on Wednesday spawned tornadoes that killed at least 14 people in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. A spokesman for the Mississippi emergency agency said one person was still missing.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; and Leslie Adler)

Photo: Young boys play in a park during an unusually warm winter day in Brooklyn, New York December 15, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

 

Southern U.S. States Clean Up After Storms Kill At Least 10

By Ian Simpson

(Reuters) – Southern U.S. states began digging out on Thursday after severe storms including some 20 tornadoes pounded the region, flattening homes, downing trees and killing at least 10 people.

With about 100 million Americans expected to travel over the Christmas holidays, the National Weather Service forecast isolated severe thunderstorms from the mid-Atlantic region to the Gulf Coast and record warmth to New York.

The storm system on Wednesday packed high winds and triggered more than 20 tornadoes in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, authorities said.

A large tornado tore a 100-mile (160-km) path through northern Mississippi, demolishing or heavily damaging dozens of homes and other buildings in a six-county area before plowing into western Tennessee, authorities said.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency for seven of the state’s counties.

“This could have been a lot worse. We’re just praying everybody can have a recovery,” Kelvin Buck, the mayor of Holly Springs, Mississippi, told CNN.

He said he was out assessing the damage and emergency workers were looking for any other victims from the tornado, which killed a 7-year-old boy in the area.

A spokesman for the Mississippi Highway Patrol told CNN that six people were killed in the state and 40 were injured. Three people died in Tennessee and one in Arkansas, according to authorities.

Thirteen counties in Tennessee reported damage, with a post office destroyed and a state highway washed out. Up to 15 homes were damaged in McNairy County, the state emergency management office said.

Emergency crews in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee were searching for several people reported missing.

Scores of people were injured in the region.

An 18-year-old Arkansas woman died and a toddler was injured when a tree crashed into a house after being uprooted by powerful winds, according to emergency officials.

In Michigan and Wisconsin, about 15,000 homes and businesses were without electricity after winds reaching 50 miles per hour (80 km per hour) downed power lines. The National Weather Service issued a gale force wind warning for Lake Michigan, where waves could reach 15 feet (4.6 meters).

The storms on Wednesday snarled holiday travel plans in Florida, and the American Automobile Association predicted 100 million Americans were expected to travel during the holiday period beginning on Wednesday, 91 million of them by car.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere and Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Jason Neely, Jeffrey Benkoe and Paul Simao)

Photographed through raindrops on a window, a worker makes his way toward a plane parked at Reagan National Airport in Washington December 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque