People cross a snow covered street on a sunny day following a blizzard on Jan. 24, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. 
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty

East Coast begins digging out from record-breaking snowstorm


The Eastern Seaboard began stirring early Sunday after a killer snowstorm that buried snowfall records by dumping as much as 3 feet of snow in places, but driving remained treacherous and officials urged the public to stay off roads until cleanup could be completed.

Crews had cleared many major thoroughfares in the hardest hit areas and travel bans were being lifted. Mass transit systems were slowly resuming normal operations. But many side roads remained impassable and icy conditions in the storm’s wake remained a danger for motorists.

FOLLOW: live-blogging the latest updates on the snowstorm

At least 20 deaths have been attributed to the severe weather, which cancelled thousands of flights and was beginning to impact airlines’ schedules for Monday.

At its height, the storm cut power to hundreds of thousands of residents, but most had electricity again by early Sunday. The biggest remaining outages affected about 25,000 customers in New Jersey – mostly along the Jersey Shore - with smaller outages reported in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Five states saw totals of more than 30 inches of snow — New York, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania — while storm surges saw tides reach near “Sandy-like levels” in New Jersey. Still, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said at a news conference Sunday morning that coastal towns suffered only “mild to moderate flooding,” and saw no significant property damage.

MSNBC Live, 1/24/16, 7:01 AM ET

Storm brings serious flooding to NJ

Seaside New Jersey towns were inundated with flooding from the storm that hit the east coast.

In New York City, Central Park recorded its all-time daily snowfall record with 26.6 inches of snow, according to The Weather Channel. The snowfall brought the overall storm total to 26.8 inches — just a tenth of an inch short of the all-time record set in February 2006.

Other areas of the city got even more snow: John F. Kennedy Airport was walloped with 30.1 inches; Williamsburg in Brooklyn got 29; and at the Bronx Zoo, there was 27.6 inches of powder.

Elsewhere, Baltimore broke its all-time snowstorm record with 29.2 inches, while Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, also set a new record with 28.6 inches, according to The Weather Channel. The highest total so far was 40 inches at Glengary, West Virginia. Fourteen states received more than a foot of snow.

“It’s likely to go down as one of the most impressive blizzards we’ve seen on the Eastern Seaboard in recorded history,” said Michael Palmer, lead meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

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New York City was springing back to life though Sunday morning, after a travel ban that was put in place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday was lifted. Most forms of transportation were resuming normal operations, save for the Long Island Rail Road, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo said crews were working hard to clear for Monday’s commute.

Coastal flooding remained a concern throughout Sunday morning, with strong winds set to continue along the northern coastline.

“There will still be some elevated surf this morning — a lot of coastal flooding in Delaware in New Jersey,” Palmer said. “There’s been a lot of beach erosion with this system. Water levels got up to Sandy-like levels. The difference was that Sandy had the high waves on top of the tide.”

Moderate to major coastal flooding had impacted the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the coast of southern New England, The Weather Channel reported.

MSNBC Live, 1/24/16, 8:27 AM ET

Flights cancelled at east coast airports

More than 10,000 flights have been cancelled since Friday. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

Air travel continued to be disrupted, with the total number of canceled flights over Friday, Saturday and Sunday totaling 10,877. More than more than 600 Monday flights had been canceled.

Stranded travelers Saturday included Defense Secretary Ash Carter, whose high-tech aircraft, the Doomsday Plane, couldn’t land at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland after returning from Europe. Carter was rerouted to Tampa, Florida.

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East Coast begins digging out from record-breaking snowstorm