3 dead as US battered by biggest winter storm in years– extreme weather sparks THUNDERSNOW

Joe Biden caught in snowstorm as he returns to Washington

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Meanwhile, today (Tuesday) thousands of people were trapped in their vehicles for hours along a nearly 50-mile stretch of motorway in Virginia. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and one airport on the eastern seaboard closed on Monday.

In Maryland, three people died after their vehicle collided with a snowplough on Monday evening, according to the Montgomery County Police Department.

The US National Weather Service said the Washington DC area had experienced thundersnow – a rare phenomenon when thunder and lightning occur during a snowstorm.

The storm dropped more than 14 inches of snow in parts of Northern Virginia, while Washington DC recorded more than eight inches, according to the National Weather Service.

In central Tennessee and northern Alabama, snow depths reached nine inches.

Yesterday, federal government offices and schools in the American capital were closed as the storm hit, as did several in the Richmond area of Virginia.

As of this evening, one power outage aggregator said there were still nearly 309,000 homes without power, down from 340,000 last night.

Flights out of airports in the Washington DC area were cancelled or delayed, while Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey was forced to temporarily close while crews worked to clear runways.

In Virginia, thousands of people were left trapped in their cars for hours along a stretch of the Interstate 95 motorway after the blizzard dumped a foot of snow on the highway.

The major road was shut in both directions near Fredricksburg after it came to a standstill at around 8pm yesterday, and was still not moving late into Tuesday morning.

Despairing motorists were trapped in the freezing weather, some of them without food or water. Some vehicles ran out of fuel, according to social media reports.

The storm even affected the US President, who was left stuck on Air Force One for half an hour while airport personnel struggled to get stairs to the aeroplane so he could disembark.

When Joe Biden was finally able to get off, he was seen cautiously descending, shielding his face from the torrent.

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Meteorologists said the heaviest snow, falling at two inches per hour, occurred on Monday morning.

The National Weather Service expressed concern about melted snow leading to further treacherous conditions for travel.

Meteorologist Andrew Orrison said: “The refreeze on the road could definitely be dangerous for commuters on Tuesday morning.”

In the city Washington DC, a snow emergency was put in place.

Mayor Muriel Bowser urged residents: “I can’t emphasize enough right now that you should stay home.”

In New Jersey, Governor Philip Murphy declared a state of emergency in five counties, and also warned commuters to stay off the roads.

He added: “Let this thing get cleaned up over the course of the evening, and then hopefully get a fresh start commute in the morning.”

At a press conference, Governor Murphy said that emergency workers had assisted 245 motorists as of Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Virginia State Police said that the force had responded to more than 650 crashes and assisted over 600 stranded vehicles by 4pm yesterday.

Rain on Sunday had prevented proper salting of roads, making conditions even more treacherous.

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