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Nation's capital region shuts down after snowfall

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 13, 2014 at 8:25 pm •  Published: February 13, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation's capital and surrounding area shut down Thursday as snow blanketed the region, dumping nearly 9 inches in Washington and more than a foot in other places.

A second wave of snow arrived in the region Thursday night, as officials urged residents to stay off the roads so crews could clear streets again.

Bus service in Washington, which had resumed about 2 p.m., was suspended again about 7:30 p.m. as falling snow again covered roads.

In Prince George's County near D.C., Pepco reported more than 4,700 were without power late Thursday.

Federal and local government offices in Washington were closed Thursday along with state offices in Maryland and some Delaware counties. Universities in the region canceled classes, and schoolchildren in Washington had their second snow day in less than a month.

Many schools announced they would be closed Friday.

The snow also halted bus service in Washington and closed the runways at two of the region's airports, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. One man used skis to get around on the National Mall while others built snowmen by city landmarks.

Some hard-hit areas planned closures for Friday, too. Public schools in Baltimore County, Montgomery County and Charles County were among those in Maryland that planned to be closed.

Snow totals were on the high end of what had been forecast, said National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Bettwy.

"It definitely was a very fluffy snow with big snowflakes, so it piled up pretty quickly," Bettwy said, calling travel "absolutely treacherous."

The Weather Service said the 11 inches of snow that fell at Washington Dulles Airport broke a record.

The agency said the old daily maximum snowfall of 3 inches was set in 1992.

On Thursday morning, a truck driver in Ashburn, Va., working to clear snowy roads died. State police say he had pulled off the road and was standing behind his vehicle when he was hit by another dump truck.

Fire officials in Howard County, Md., said two men died after suffering medical emergencies while shoveling snow, and a third died when he collapsed outside in the snow. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine if any of the deaths were directly blamed on the weather.

Though snow totals varied, a number of cities throughout the region saw more than a foot of snow. Westminster, Md., reported 19 inches and Rockville, Md., reported 12 ½. Newark, Del., reported 14 inches.

Additional accumulations across the whole area were expected from a secondary band of snow moving through the region Thursday afternoon and evening.

In Washington, residents awoke to find knee-high drifts in some places. Cars were capped in white and the sound of plastic shovels scraping the sidewalk rang out on streets. Many people were staying inside and heeding warnings to stay off the roads, but some residents emerged to walk dogs or exercise.

Catherine Everitt, 30, bundled up in a coat, knitted hat and sweat pants to walk the National Mall and take pictures. Everitt, who works for a nonprofit and lives near Capitol Hill, said she lives in a basement unit and the snow was covering her windows.

Other residents like 38-year-old Daniel Saxinger, an operations manager who works downtown, had indoor plans for the day since offices were closed.

"Unfortunately today I'm going to do my taxes," Saxinger said.

In Baltimore's Pimlico neighborhood, home to the Preakness Stakes horse race, residents saw 15 inches of snow. The city's Baltimore/Washington International Airport had runways open Thursday, but all but a handful of flights were canceled.

At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport outside of the nation's capital, six inches of snow were reported. The airport was virtually silent Thursday morning, with flights canceled and most vendors closed for business.

Rob Wolcott, 33, of Washington, and his wife were trying to reach St. Kitts for a friend's wedding on Saturday at which he was supposed to officiate. They were scrambling to find alternate ways south after an earlier flight got canceled.

"Today we would settle for Charlotte or Miami or anywhere south," he said.

George Battisford, a resident of rural Frederick, Md., said he's had enough of winter.

"I'm 69 years old. When I was a younger man, snow was fun. Now it's just a pain in the posterior," the retired telephone lineman and truck driver said Thursday in a phone interview.

Battisford said his area got about 18 inches of snow from a storm Wednesday night and Thursday, but his power stayed on. Last week, he lost electricity for three days from an ice storm and used a generator to keep essential appliances running.

At Falls Church Florist in Virginia, owner Mike Flood had his drivers out making residential deliveries despite the snow, scrambling to fulfill orders ahead of Friday, Valentine's Day.

"It's a godawful thing," he said. "We're going to lose money, there's no doubt about it."


Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Washington; Amanda Kell in Baltimore; Eric Tucker in Arlington, Va.; Ben Nuckols in Burke, Va.; Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Va.; and David Dishneau in Frederick, Md., contributed to this report.


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