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A vast area of the eastern United States prepared today, with emergency declarations in several states, for a winter storm that is anticipated intense and long, and that may set new records of snow accumulation in Washington and its metropolitan area.
In its latest bulletin, the United States Meteorological Service warns that the storm, "potentially devastating", will begin to affect part of the Atlantic coast tomorrow and will continue through Saturday, with snow accumulations that can approach 60 centimeters in Washington , its metropolitan area and the city of Baltimore.
The snow record in Washington dates back to 1922, when up to 71 centimeters were accumulated on the streets of the capital.
In New York, 20 to 30 centimeters of snow can fall, while in Philadelphia accumulations of up to 45 centimeters are possible, according to the forecasts.
Further south, ice formation is likely in parts of states like Kentucky or North Carolina.
80 million people on alert
In total, more than 80 million people in 15 eastern states of the country are on alert for storm Jonas, the first of the winter and which will leave not only a lot of snow, but also strong winds, according to meteorologists.
Pennsylvania Governors Tom Wolf and Virginia Governors Terry McAuliffe today issued an emergency declaration for their states in the face of the storm.
McAuliffe warned the population to take this storm "seriously", as well as possible road problems and power outages.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory also declared an emergency, saying that at least two people have died in the state from bad weather leading up to the storm.
New York authorities
For their part, the authorities of New York today recommended to the inhabitants of the city that they stay home this weekend and Mayor Bill de Blasio offered a press conference to announce the preparations to face the storm.
De Blasio explained that, in principle, it is not expected that a cut in public transport services will be adopted, something that happened last year during another winter storm and that was considered excessive, although the final decision depends on the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Washington, Muriel Bowser, announced today that all public schools in the city will be closed on Friday and that non-essential employees of the federal government will be able to finish their workday at noon.
At a press conference, Bowser apologized for not having provided "the necessary resources" to deal with the snowfall late Wednesday in Washington, which made it difficult for thousands of citizens to return home.
Wednesday's storm was mild, but the 2.5 centimeters of snow and ice accumulated in some areas caused circulatory chaos that lasted into the early hours of the morning.
Hundreds of citizens working in Washington and living in the neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland took hours to return to their homes.
Others had to abandon their vehicles on the roads, some impassable because of the ice.
Barack Obama Caravan
Also affected by the storm was the caravan that accompanied the US president, Barack Obama, on the way from Andrews Air Base (Maryland), where the president landed from Detroit, to the White House.
The vehicles of that caravan slipped and skidded on the ice several times during the journey, according to journalists accompanying Obama.
Today many schools in Washington and some counties in Virginia and Maryland opened later than usual or remained closed.