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Paralyzing blizzard over, cleanup begins on East Coast

At least 29 people reported dead from storm; New York lifted travel ban but Washington remained at standstill

Millions of residents, business owners and workers began digging out on Sunday from a massive blizzard that brought Washington, New York and other northeastern U.S. cities to a standstill.

At least 29 deaths were blamed on the weather. The deaths occurred in car accidents, from carbon monoxide poisoning, and from heart attacks while shoveling snow. In Passaic, N.J., on Sunday, a mother and year-old son watching their family shovel snow from the apparent safety of their car died of carbon monoxide poisoning; snow blocked the tailpipe. Her 3-year-old daughter, also in the car, was in critical condition, The Record reported. 

The storm was the second-biggest in New York City history, with 26.8 inches by midnight Saturday, just shy of the record 26.9 inches set in 2006, the National Weather Service said.

New York lifted a travel ban and mass transit started getting back to normal on Sunday after a record-setting blizzard in the U.S. Northeast, but Washington remained at a standstill although officials said they plan on resuming limited rail and bus services on Monday morning and that rides will be free. 

Most bus and subway services operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were up and running again by 9 a.m., 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, expected to have commuter train service running into and out of New York by 3 p.m. on Sunday.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday would be a major cleanup day. He urged residents to stay off streets so city crews could clear roads.

“The snow pile is going to be with us for a while, but I think we'll be in good shape in the next 24 hours," he said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous."

The New York Sanitation Department had plowed all streets at least once, and was focusing on Sunday on secondary and side streets, the mayor's office said in a statement.

The city was deploying more than 2,300 pieces of snow-clearing equipment and keeping sanitation workers on 12-hour shifts, it said.

On the New Jersey shore, a region hard-hit in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, the storm drove flooding high tides.

After dumping about two feet of snow on the Washington area, the storm unexpectedly strengthened as it spun northward and slammed into the New York metropolitan area on Saturday, home to about 20 million people.

Winds gusting to more than 40 mph sculpted drifts many feet high, burying cars.

The National Weather Service said 17.8 inches fell in Washington, and Baltimore-Washington International Airport notched a record 29.2 inches. The deepest regional total was 42 inches at Glengarry, West Virginia.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency, as did 10 other governors. A ban imposed on all travel on New York City area roads and on Long Island, except for emergency vehicles, was set to end at 7 a.m. on Sunday. Bridges and tunnels into the city were also set to reopen.

By early Sunday the storm had all but moved off the coastline, with remnants trailing over parts of Long Island and Cape Cod. Much of the northeast was expected to see a mix of sun and clouds on Sunday with temperatures just above freezing.

Given the massive storm's impact, it was too soon to tell how much Wall Street's reopening on Monday would be affected.

Broadway theaters canceled Saturday matinee and evening performances at the urging of the mayor, and a Bruce Springsteen concert set for Sunday was called off.

As an otherworldly quiet descended on the usually bustling city of 8.5 million, the nation's most populous, tourists and residents took to city streets, venturing into the expanses of parks, some on skis. Others built snowmen and had snowball fights.

Authorities in New York and New Jersey halted public transportation and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority took the rare step of suspending operations through Sunday.

Airports in New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore were resuming very limited service Sunday.

Other airports along the track of Winter Storm Jonas were doing better, with near-normal service. The major airlines intended to resume service at all airports throughout the region by Monday, though more than 800 flights have been canceled for then.

Along with clearing snow and ice from their own facilities and equipment, airlines and train operators were dealing with how to get all their snowbound employees to work.

Amtrak was operating Sunday on all its routes, but with a reduced number of trains. Spokesman Marc Magliari said Sunday afternoon that the number of passengers was down from usual, but appeared to include many travelers who couldn't get around on other transportation modes.

"We're seeing a pretty solid increase in ridership as the day has gone on," he said.

Amtrak said it will continue a modified schedule between Boston and Washington Monday, with reduced service between Washington and points in Virginia. Other service between Washington and the Southeast and Midwest remains under review.

More than 12,000 flights were canceled from Friday through Tuesday as states from New England to North Carolina wrestled with the massive snow dump. All told, 3,505 flights scheduled for Sunday, 865 flights for Monday and 50 flights for Tuesday have been cancelled according to flight tracking service FlightAware. With 3,100 flights failing to take off Friday and 4,511 being grounded on Saturday, the total of flights grounded was 12,031 for the five-day period.

About 3,500 flights were canceled on Sunday, with more than 600 already canceled for Monday, said FlightAware.com, the aviation data and tracking website.

United Airlines said it would not operate at Washington-area airports on Sunday, and would gradually resume service on Monday. The airline plans to start "very limited operations" on Sunday afternoon at its Newark, New Jersey, hub.

High winds battered the entire East Coast, from North Carolina to New York, reaching 70 mph in Wallops Island, Virginia, late on Friday, whipping up the tides and causing coastal flooding, said National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Gallina.

The snow also engulfed the Mid-Atlantic cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia while about 150,000 customers in North Carolina and 90,000 homes in New Jersey lost electricity. Accumulations in parts of Virginia and West Virginia reached 40 inches.

Tides higher than those caused by Superstorm Sandy three years ago pushed water onto roads along the Jersey Shore and Delaware coast and set records in Cape May, New Jersey, and Lewes, Delaware, said NWS meteorologist Patrick O'Hara.

Some evacuations were reported along the New Jersey shore. Wildwood, a town of more than 5,000 people about 30 miles southwest of Atlantic City on a barrier island, saw some of the worst flooding.

Emergency workers in inflatable boats rescued more than 100 people from homes, said Wildwood Fire Chief Christopher D’Amico.

Water levels reached chest-height in parts of Wildwood and refrigerators and soda machines floated down the main street.

Further north, barrier islands near Atlantic City were also experiencing significant tidal flooding, said Linda Gilmore, the county's public information officer.

The storm developed along the Gulf Coast, dropping snow over Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky on Friday. On the coast, warm, moist air from the Atlantic Ocean collided with cold air to form the massive winter system, meteorologists said.

Wire services

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