As winter storm Jonas entered its second day, it seemed there was no slowing down for one of the biggest blizzards in US history. Up to 85 million people lie in the storm’s path, which spans the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic, affecting residents from New York to North Carolina. The massive storm has brought several eastern cities to a standstill, effectively shutting down New York and Washington DC.
Official reports suggest that at least 18 people have been killed nationwide in weather-related incidents, while in the past 48 hours, 11 states have issued states of emergency. By Saturday afternoon, New York had started enforcing a full travel ban. “After 2:30pm [EST] and you’re on the road, we will arrest you,” James P. O’Neill, the NYPD Chief of Department, said at a press conference.
However, despite strict warnings, government officials said they were concerned by the number of residents who continued to leave their homes. “Stay home, shelter in a warm place and allow snow plough operators and emergency responders to have free passage and control of the road ways,” Leif Dormsjo, the Director of Washington DC’s Department of Transportation, told Al Jazeera.
“Being outside in this weather is dangerous and life-threatening. You are putting yourself at risk, and operators of specialised equipment at risk. We really need to keep the roads clear of any private vehicles.” By late early evening local time, snow levels had reached up to 40 inches in Virginia, 38 inches in Maryland, 35 inches in Pennsylvania, with New Jersey, New York and Washington DC following closely behind.