WASHINGTON: Another huge winter storm walloped Washington and surrounding areas on Monday, shutting schools and the federal government, snarling air traffic and blanketing roads in snow.
The bitter March blast was the latest in a succession of miserable weather events that have made this one of the harshest in recent memory for residents of the US East Coast.
In the capital, in a region that bore the brunt of the fierce system of freezing rain, sleet and blowing snow, the usually bustling morning commute was calm and windswept, white streets largely deserted.
As a precaution, federal government employees were told to stay home and schools in the city and surrounding counties gave their students yet another snow day off.
Many colleges also closed shop for the day due to the nasty conditions — including Georgetown University, where only emergency employees were required to report to work on time.
While the city’s Metro was running on schedule, riders were scarce and bus service was suspended due to dangerous road conditions.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said a winter storm warning would remain in effect until 4 p.m. local time, and that four to eight inches of snow were expected.
“Only travel in an emergency,” it warned. “If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.”
With snow due to taper off by the early afternoon, temperatures were not expected to rise above 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 7 degrees Celsius) with winds gusts of up to 40 kilometers per hour.
Weather woes extended beyond the capital area, with the NWS predicting heavy snow from the Ohio Valley into the Mid-Atlantic region through the evening.
Both Baltimore and Philadelphia, where city offices opened with a two-hour delay, were under a winter storm warning, with snow also expected further north in parts of New Jersey.
The icy rain and snow caused headaches for air travelers, with Washington’s Dulles International Airport tweeting that runways were open but that many flights were canceled.
Baltimore’s BWI Marshall Airport said “only very limited” airline operations were expected Monday morning and that airlines had yet to begin flights.
FlightAware, which tracks airlines, reported more than 2,200 flight cancelations within, into or out of the United States for Monday.