US & Canada

Winter storm closes part of US government

Media captionChilly temperatures are expected well into the second half of the week, say BBC forecasters

US government offices in Washington DC and schools in many cities have closed as the east coast braced for a snow storm that did not arrive as feared.

Three inches (7.5cm) of snow was forecast to fall over a wide area, down from the 6in anticipated earlier.

More than 1,300 flights were cancelled, with some eastern airports reporting delays of up to five hours.

The wintry weather follows a storm that dumped several inches in Philadelphia and parts of Maryland on Sunday.

That storm contributed to several multi-vehicle pile-ups, including a 50-car accident that began when a man was struck and killed as he got out of his car following a smaller accident.

An ice storm also wreaked havoc on the southern US, especially Texas last week, forcing the cancellation of thousands of flights and stranding people in airports for several days.

'No big deal'

On Tuesday, thousands of US federal employees in the nation's capital were granted excused absences or allowed to telecommute as snow began falling during the morning rush hour.

In nearby Fairfax County, Virginia, traffic was light and public transportation was nearly deserted.

"I wish it was like this all the time - minus the snow,'' Maelin Traylor, 28, of Springfield, Virginia, told the Associated Press. "The traffic was wonderful."

Another commuter from the town said the snow was "nothing".

"It's melting when it's hitting," Jean Walsh said. "I don't think they should have closed the government. It's no big deal and I've got work to do."

Public schools in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC and parts of West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee were closed on Tuesday amid a winter storm warning from the National Weather Service.

By mid-morning, the National Weather Service downgraded its winter storm advisory to three inches (7.6cm), and in Washington DC, the streets were virtually clear of snow by early afternoon.

Thousands of households and businesses in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland were still without power after freezing rain and ice knocked down tree limbs on Sunday.

Tuesday's storm will hit further north in New York and Boston later in the day, affecting travel for the evening rush hour.

In Connecticut, state police said there had been 83 vehicle crashes by late morning, but only minor injuries were recorded.

Image caption Roads in Maryland were snowy early in the morning
Image caption The weather snarled traffic at the Holland Tunnel from New Jersey to New York City
Image caption Many federal government workers were told to stay or work from home to prevent traffic delays

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