A massive snowstorm pounded the East Coast Friday, spreading blizzard conditions from North Carolina to New Jersey, while tourists hoping to escape winter's fury shivered in record 37-degree cold in Miami.
Low temperatures records were broken or tied in 34 cities. Florida citrus growers readied for another night of dangerous cold before warmer weather returns to the Sunshine State.The wintry blast turned the Boardwalk in Atlantic City into no-man's-land.
Heavy snow battered northeastern North Carolina, snarling traffic and closing schools and businesses for the day.
"We've got blowing snow," said Gates County Sheriff Elmo Benton. "It's 31/2 feet deep in some places. I walked through it this morning. It's up past my knees at one point and 12 feet from it it's 2 inches deep."
Waves up to 8 feet high pounded North Carolina's Outer Banks, causing severe coastal erosion, and gusting winds were clocked at 70 mph in some areas.
Contractors hauled dump trucks of sand to protect a beachfront motel in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
A man drowned when his dinghy capsized around 7 a.m. in a choppy Beaufort creek, police said.
Beaufort Police Chief Marvin Knox said Daniel Graybill, 25, of Hanover, Pa., had been working at an area concrete plant and living on a skipjack, using the dinghy to travel to shore.
The National Weather Service said the snow blanketed an area from North Carolina to Massachusetts and was headed for southern Maine.
Portions of the Delmarva Peninsula of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia received as much as 11 inches in some areas, closing schools and giving state and local government employees a three-day weekend.
In New Jersey, at least 18 inches of snow fell at Margate, 15 inches in northern Cape May County and 12 inches at Atlantic City Airport in Pomona by late afternoon.
"It looks like a detergent commercial outside my window," Middle Township police Capt. William Hevener said. "It's a white wall of wind and heavy snow. We're dead center in it."
Blinding, drifing snow blown by 50-mph gusts forced the closure of Atlantic City's two airports, cutting off air access to the resort for fans flocking to Friday night's World Boxing Council middleweight title bout between champion Iran Barkley and Roberto Duran.
Speed limits on the Atlantic City Expressway were reduced to 35 mph.
Most of the island-based resort's 12 casinos were barren of gamblers, except for hotel guests.
"It's safe to say that all the casinos in Atlantic City are very empty today," said Gary Selesner, vice president of marketing at Trump Plaza Casino Hotel. "People are hearing about how the storm is bad down here and people that would normally come in are canceling out."
The normally bustling Boardwalk was also empty, except for a few hearty souls. Most Boardwalk merchants were closed.
In Boston, Ga., a 7-month-old girl was found dead in an unheated home with the temperature in the low 20s outside. A coroner was investigating. Authorities said they believe Precious Fleming froze to death.
Panama City, Fla., recorded 24 degrees and 21 mph winds at 7 a.m. but the state's lowest reading was 21 at Milton, or 9 degrees with the wind chill.