- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2005

Low temperatures forced the closure of three D.C. public schools several hours early yesterday, as most area residents headed back to work for the first time since a weekend storm blanketed the region with snow.

D.C. school officials shut downHoward D. Woodson Senior High School and Luke C. Moore Academy Senior High School in Northeast and J.F. Oyster Bilingual Elementary School in Northwest after the schools had problems with their heating.

“We realize that it’s important for all students to be in facilities where they’re comfortable and able to perform to their maximum,” said Roxanne Evans, a spokeswoman for the D.C. public schools. “Health and safety are always concerns and factors in the decision to close a school.”

Temperatures reached 32 degrees by yesterday afternoon.

D.C. schools were among several local school systems that opened two hours late yesterday. Schools in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore city and those in southern parts of Virginia were closed yesterday, as state and local officials continued to battle the lingering effects of the weekend winter storm that left up to 8 inches of snow in some parts of the area.

The storm, which originated in northernCanada and is off the coast of New England, left behind nearly 3.5 inches of snow in the District and between 5 inches and 8 inches in parts of Maryland and Virginia. Light snow fell for a short period yesterday afternoon, but stopped in most areas by evening rush hour.

So far, temperatures this winter have been slightly higher than normal, said David Manning, warning coordinator and meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

“Overall, it’s been a slightly milder winter so far,” he said.

The weather service said temperatures are expected to rise into the mid-30s today and into the mid-40s tomorrow. There’s a slight chance of snow flurries tonight.

Local residents said yesterday that they had mixed emotions about the snow and low temperatures.

Tawana Lewis, a lifelong D.C. resident, said she enjoys the snow as long as she doesn’t drive in it.

“I just love the snow; it’s pretty,” Miss Lewis, 37, said. “But if I had to drive in it, I’d probably have some problems.”

Area transportation officials urged drivers to use caution during their daily commutes, as higher temperatures begin to melt the snow left on some secondary streets.

“We are asking motorists that since we still have a lot of snow to melt later this week, they still need be careful as they drive,” said Kellie Boulware, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Miss Boulware said about 250 crews were on the streets in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties yesterday, concentrating on clearing secondary roads and looking for icy spots on bridges and ramps that tend to freeze before the roads.

The storm was blamed for a crash that killed a pedestrian in Greenbelt on Saturday night. A sport utility vehicle spun out of control and hit Neil Prendable, 48, at about 7:20 p.m., Greenbelt police said. Earlier in the day, a 70-year-old Pennsylvania man was injured when a bus skidded into a bus-stop shelter in Takoma Park. The man was treated for cuts at a local hospital, Takoma Park police said.

In Virginia, transportation officials said salt and plow crews were on the streets yesterday looking for potential problems caused by the low temperatures.

“We still have some road crews out in response to requests, but they’re pretty much wrapped up,” said Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation. “The roads are fine.”

The cold weather also created problems for local fire and police departments.

A frozen pipe burst, apparently because of the cold weather, and knocked out the sprinklers at Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton early yesterday afternoon, leading Montgomery County fire officials to close the mall to customers for the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, police in Prince George’s County warned car owners against leaving their vehicles unattended after starting the engines . Police said they received reports of eight cases of car thefts in Clinton last Thursday. Police said drivers in Maryland face a $55 fines if they leave their cars on while unattended.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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