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In fact, the snow emergency that went into effect Wednesday was the first in the District under Mr. Gray. The decision about whether to shutter government offices and classrooms can depend on who’s in charge.

As D.C. mayor, Adrian M. Fenty took a firm stand against closing city schools during storms. In February 2008, after a snow and ice storm brought every surrounding jurisdiction to a halt, Mr. Fenty kept classes in session over the objections of the teachers union, which complained that he was jeopardizing the safety of teachers and students alike.

The move won the praise of AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II, who said the District was “no longer treating snow removal like a Southern city.”

But even Mr. Fenty couldn’t catch a break. Two years later, in the midst of what the National Weather Service described as a “life-threatening blizzard,” MSNBC host Chris Matthews blasted the mayor on his cable television program for not clearing the streets fast enough.

One would have thought the mayor was sunning himself in California while residents struggled to dig out from a massive storm. Oh, wait. That was Marion Barry. The 1987 episode in which the mayor for life partied at the Super Bowl amid a blizzard back home looms large in the city’s snow lore and still serves as a cautionary tale for politicians.

Chicago is as familiar with the politics of snow as it is with snow itself. Mayor Michael A. Bilandic lost a re-election bid after his mishandling of a pair of storms that dropped nearly 3 feet of snow on the Windy City in 1979.

But Chicago officials could be emulating the District’s more cautious approach to closures.

After no weather-related school closures for 12 years, classes were canceled in 2011 for a blizzard that dropped 20 inches of snow on the city. It didn’t stop there. Classes were canceled because of weather conditions again in 2013 and a whopping four times in January alone. Mr. Obama has yet to weigh in on those closures.

So a projected 10 inches of snow might bring the District to a halt Thursday. But now it’s in good company.

Andrea Noble contributed to this report.