Peace activist Taylor Hall clears snow from the peace vigil tent, which has been held outside the White House since 1981, during a snow storm in Lafayette Park across from the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. After pummeling wide swaths of the South, a winter storm dumped nearly a foot of snow in Washington as it marched Northeast and threatened more power outages, traffic headaches and widespread closures for millions of residents.
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.
Federal and local government offices in Washington were closed 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.
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 and some people were out planning to build snowmen among the city’s monuments.
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.”
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.
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.
Forecasters are expecting a lull at midday and a secondary band of snow to move through the region in the afternoon and evening with additional accumulations across the whole area. Power outages were still a concern, though by midday Thursday only a few thousand people in the region were without power.
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 said she planned to walk the entire length of 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 already 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 awoke to 15 inches of snow. Snow blowers roared, breaking the quiet of downtown. But every cleared strip created a potential hazard as it quickly iced over. Traffic was light, with some pedestrians taking to the middle of the road. The city’s Baltimore/Washington International Airport had runways open, but all but a handful of flights were canceled according to spokesman Jonathan Dean.
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.
In Frederick, Md., Cory Cheeks worked his pickup through a 4-foot snow pile only to find the road at the end of his hotel parking lot still blocked by snow. The Fredericksburg, Va., resident was reluctantly preparing for a day of online training, convinced he could have driven 30 miles to Rockville for a face-to-face session if his supervisors hadn’t canceled it.
“It’s a very powdery snow. It’s not very heavy at all,” Cheeks said.
“It’s a God-awful thing,” he said. “We’re going to lose money, there’s no doubt about it.”