Another messy morning in winter-weary Northeast

By Ron Todt

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Feb. 14 2014 9:18 a.m. MST

In South Carolina, about 242,000 homes and businesses were without power Friday morning, and officials warned it could be next week before it is restored for everyone.

Gov. Nikki Haley planned to visit Aiken and Walterboro on Friday to look at some of the most heavily damaged areas.

In North Carolina, where the storm caused huge traffic jams in the Raleigh area on Wednesday as people left work and rushed to get home in the middle of the day, National Guardsmen in high-riding Humvees patrolled the snowy roads on Thursday, looking for any stranded motorists.

Around the country, this is shaping up as one of the snowiest winters on record. As of early this month, Washington, Detroit, Boston, Chicago, New York and St. Louis had gotten roughly two or three times as much snow as they normally receive at this point in the season.

The procession of storms and cold blasts — blamed in part on a kink in the jet stream, the high-altitude air currents that dictate weather — has cut into retail sales across the U.S., the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Sales dipped 0.4 percent in January.

This latest round of bad weather threatens to disrupt Friday's deliveries of flowers for Valentine's Day.

"It's a godawful thing," said Mike Flood, owner of Falls Church Florist in Virginia. "We're going to lose money. There's no doubt about it."

Other businesses expected a bounce from the snow.

At Bob Skinner's Ski and Sport near the Mount Sunapee ski area, owner Frank MacConnell was overjoyed.

"There's never too much snow," he said. Sales and rentals are "off the charts" and MacConnell said the storm is a perfect prelude to the traditionally lucrative President's Week holiday next week.

Scolforo reported from Lemoyne, Pa. Associated Press writers Michael Melia in East Hartford, Conn., Lynne Tuohy in Newbury, N.H.; Kevin Begos in Pittsburgh; Michael Rubinkam in Berks County, Pa.; Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia; Sarah Brumfield and Brett Zongker in Washington; Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Va.; David Dishneau in Frederick, Md.; and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.

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