This was how Filipinos residing in the US East Coast described the blizzard that paralyzed most parts of the region over the weekend.
Winter storm Jonas reportedly buried a wide area from Washington D.C. to New York City with more than two feet of snow, forcing authorities to close roads, bridges and tunnels until Sunday morning.
In all, there were at least 19 deaths in several states related to the storm. It ranked No. 2 in terms of snowfall accumulation in New York City history with 26.8 inches (68 cm) by midnight, just short of the record set in 2006, the US National Weather Service (NWS) said. It was among Washington's biggest ever snowstorms too.
Thirteen people were killed in weather-related car crashes in Arkansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. One person died in Maryland and three in New York City while shoveling snow. Two died of hypothermia in Virginia, officials said.
On the New Jersey Shore, a region hard-hit in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, the storm drove high tides causing flooding in several towns.
After dumping about two feet (60 cm) of snow on the Washington area overnight, the storm unexpectedly gathered strength as it spun northward and headed into the New York metropolitan area, home to about 20 million people.
Dennis Dimapilis, a lawyer who has taken a second career as a nurse in the US, was marooned in a ski resort northwest of Philadelphia when the snowstorm struck.
“Pahina na snow. Makapal, almost 18 inches. Sa Philly area stable na. Sa New Jersey and Delaware coast, bumabaha,” he told GMA News Online.
“Pinahirapan kami kasi takot kami mawalan ng kuryente dahil malamig. Saka stuck ka sa bahay. Mahirap maglinis ng driveway. Saka mahirap kapag natunaw ang yelo kasi madulas,” he added.
Dimapilis added that the high tide and the accumulation of snow worsened the situation.
“Parang Ondoy pero imbes ulan, snow. Saka lahat ng malapit sa shore ng Atlantic Ocean ang tinamaan … mga kotse, lumulutang,” he narrated
Dimapilis was referring to Tropical Storm Ondoy (international name: Ketsana), the second most devastating tropical cyclone in 2009. Ondoy was the most devastating typhoon to hit Metro Manila and parts of Luzon with at least 464 reported killed. Ondoy’s flood water levels reached a record 20 feet in rural areas.
“Much bigger daw ito than the 1996 storm pero parang mas malakas yung 2009 storm kaso mas matagal ito kasi Friday to Sunday noon ito.
Yung 2009 storm, mas malakas siya in terms of snow volume kaso lang Friday until Saturday night lang yun. According to reports Jonas is about two inches per hour. Yung 2009 parang four inches per 30 minutes,” Dimapilis said.
He said they're still expecting heavy snowfall between Sunday night and Monday noon.
He said they have stocked up on eggs, milk and bread good for 2 to 3 days.
“Bukas naman mga supermarkets pero maaga magsara … depende sa kalsada kung mabilis malinis,” Dimapilis said
Rocel Felix, a former journalist in the Philippines who is now a teacher in Maryland, shares Dimapilis’ comparison of Winter Storm Jonas with Tropical Storm Ondoy.
“Close,” her reply when asked if Jonas’ onslaught could be compared to Ondoy.
“Ang tragedy dito yung mga namamatay dahil sa lamig at yung mga nababangga dahil madulas ang kalye,” she said.
“Ako nga yung 40 mph (speed limit), I had to slow down to 20 mph kasi poor visibility tapos madulas.”
Describing her footage which she posted on Facebook, Felix said, “Kalsada yun sa labas ng house. Wala akong nakitang dumaan maghapon. kasi ang taas ng snow tapos yung road e hilly so kahit na all-wheel pa mahihirapan.”
“Humupa na. Yung kuha ko kanina yun ang kasagsagan mga 4 pm yun. may snowfall pa rin although yung wind humina na …. sa area namin umabot ng 25 inches ang snow,” she said.
Elmer Maximo, a former airline executive in the Philippines who is now a senior managing director of an I.T. company in New Jersey, said they were expecting 30-36 inches of snow.
“Called off ang work and transport were suspended too. There are no cars sa streets. Most of the roads are not passable. Stay home mga tao,” he said.
To ride out the snowstorm, Maximo invited his friends over to his house where he cooked Pinoy-style merienda like lugaw and turon.
Philippine-based broadcast journalist Mike Cohen who is visiting his children in Buffalo, New York, said things are normal in upstate New York.
“The storm is to the south of us. But snow here is very normal sa upstate New York,” he told GMA News Online.
“So what they're going through is just a little stronger than our normal. They normally don't get that much 19 inches. Kami mga 5 to 8 inches almost every other day so sanay na kami dito. It's just part of daily life parang 'pag tag-ulan sa atin at taga Malabon ka.”
The Philippine Consulate in New York earlier issued a blizzard warning to all Filipinos residing in the state.
Consul-General Mario de Leon said aside from New York, Filipinos in the states of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts should also take the necessary precautions by avoiding unnecessary travels and to monitor weather updates.
New York, New Jersey, Boston, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have been placed under a state of emergency due to the snow storm. —with a Reuters report