Heavy Snow in Mid-Atlantic Closes Federal Government, Schools

February 8, 2010 - 10:16 AM
 
Washington (AP) - The federal government was shuttered Monday while the Mid-Atlantic region dug out from as much as three feet of snow that left tens of thousands without power and blocked trains, planes and cars, with another storm looming.
 
Federal agencies that employ 230,000 in Washington were closed, as were many local governments, businesses and school districts across the region. Around 200,000 students in Philadelphia's public and Roman Catholic schools got a snow day.
 
With more snow expected Tuesday, stranded travelers and those struggling with no electricity wondered when they'd escape the icy, gray mess.
 
"You've got a whole city held captive here," Gwen Dawkins, who was trying to get to Detroit, said as she waited at Washington's Reagan National Airport, where all flights had been canceled after 18 inches of snow was recorded by Sunday. That was the fourth-highest storm total for Washington. Reagan remained closed for snow and ice removal Monday and officials said operations were expected to resume at some point during the day.
 
Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport opened one runway Sunday evening, but airport officials warned that delays and cancellations will likely continue Monday.
 
Dulles International Airport was open, but the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority warned that some flights may be canceled or delayed.
 
More than 24,000 utility customers in Virginia were without electricity after some areas got nearly 3 feet of snow. In Pennsylvania, Allegheny Power reported outages to about 65,000 customers. West Virginia had about 5,000 customers without electricity.
 
The National Weather Service called the storm "historic" and reported a foot of snow in parts of Ohio and 2 feet or more in Washington, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Parts of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia got closer to 3 feet.
 
Crews plowing streets and homeowners shoveling their walkways faced the possibility of another storm adding to the work. The National Weather Service issued a storm watch for the Washington area Tuesday, saying there was potential for another 5 inches or more of snow. Forecasters expect highs in the low- to mid-30s for the next few days, though sunshine on Monday should help melt some of the snow, said weather service meteorologist Bryan Jackson.
 
The sight of cross-country skiers cascading down monument steps and flying snowballs has since given way to images of people hunched over snow shovels or huddled next to fireplaces.
 
John and Nicole Ibrahim and their 2-year-old son, Joshua, have been without power at their suburban Washington home in Silver Spring, Md., since overnight Friday. They were among hundreds of thousands without electricity across the region, and utilities warned it could be days before electricity is restored to everyone.
 
"We were all bundled up in the same bed together and (Joshua) was coughing in his sleep and his heart was racing, and we worried he might be getting pneumonia," Nicole Ibrahim said.
 
Eric Berry, a plow driver for Baltimore, said he worked 12-hour shifts Saturday and Sunday. He said overanxious residents were sometimes hindering his ability to clear secondary roads by digging out their cars and moving them into the path of his plow.
 
"They feel like they need to park in the street, so that when it's time to go, they can up and go," Berry said.
 
In Philadelphia, 28.5 inches of snow fell during the storm, just shy of the record 30.7 inches during a January 1996 blizzard. Snow totals were even higher to the west in Pennsylvania, with 31 inches recorded in Upper Strasburg and 30 inches in Somerset.
 
Authorities say most public transportation in Philadelphia has resumed. In Pittsburgh, bus service restarted but light-rail wasn't running. Washington's Metro trains were to be limited Monday to underground rails, and its buses were going to operate on a very limited basis.
 
Despite the snow, watching the Super Bowl was still a priority for many. Eric Teoh, 29, of Arlington, said he borrowed his neighbor's snow shovel and spent at least an hour getting his car out of the snow to head to the Crystal City Sports Pub in Arlington, Va.
 
"I was snowed in and I dug my car out today to come here," he said. "I couldn't go anywhere."
 
The frigid temperatures and snowy and icy streets did not deter runner Patrick Duffy, 23, from training for the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. He admitted was going slower than usual.
 
"I'm trying not to fall. I haven't fallen yet," Duffy said, his eyelashes frosted white.
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Nuckols reported from Baltimore. Contributing to this report were Associated Press photographer Jacquelyn Martin in Silver Spring, Md.; and writers Geoff Mulvihill in Atlantic City, N.J.; Ron Todt in Philadelphia; Jessica Gresko in Washington; and Kathleen Miller in Arlington, Va.