Mid-Atlantic storm leaves 250K without power

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“I don’t consider this a big storm,” he said.

Downtown Washington was unusually quiet. Officials eager to avoid a repeat of 2011 pre-emptively shut down federal offices and canceled public schools. Non-emergency federal employees were treated to a paid snow day for the number of hours they were scheduled to work.

Some congressional hearings were postponed, but the House managed to approve legislation to prevent a government shutdown on March 27 and President Barack Obama was set to have dinner with GOP senators at a hotel on Wednesday night.

“So far, knock on wood, we’ve dodged on this one,” said D.C. Homeland Security director Chris Geldart. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that it remains the way it’s been.”

The Baltimore-Washington area’s last major snowstorm struck Jan. 26, 2011. It hit Washington during the evening rush hour, causing some motorists to be stuck in traffic nearly overnight. It dropped 5 inches on Washington and 7.8 inches on Baltimore, knocked out power to about 320,000 homes and contributed to six deaths. The federal government later changed its policies to allow workers to leave their offices sooner or to work from home if major storms are expected.

The current storm led to at least four deaths. A semi-trailer slid off a snow-covered interstate in western Wisconsin, killing two people. A central Indiana woman died when a semi-trailer plowed into her car after she lost control merging onto the highway, and a man from Columbia City in northeast Indiana was killed when his snowmobile left the road, headed across a field and crashed into a wire fence.

The storm brought around 10 inches of snow to weather-hardened Chicago on Tuesday, closing schools and canceling more than 1,100 flights at the city’s two major airports.

Hundreds more flights were canceled Wednesday at Dulles and Reagan National airports in the Washington area, according to FlightAware.com.

In Pennsylvania and Ohio, many areas had 4 to 6 inches of snow. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the Philadelphia area and parts of central Pennsylvania through Thursday morning.

Still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, the Jersey Shore prepared for another hit. The storm should bring rain and snow, but one of the biggest problems could be flooding in areas where dunes were washed away and many damaged homes still sit open and exposed.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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