The first day of spring on Thursday can’t come soon enough to the D.C. area, which has seen snow crews hit the streets at a record pace, schools and government offices closed upwards of two weeks of classes in some cases, and among the highest snowfall totals in the past three decades.
Monday’s storm dropped between 6 to 8 inches of snow on the District, with 7.2 inches recorded at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport pushing the winter’s total snowfall up past 30 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
But unlike the 2009-2010 winter season, when a small number of storms packed a punch by dropping more than 56 inches of snow on the region, this season’s snowstorms have been smaller but more frequent — requiring more work by snowplows and salt spreaders. The D.C. Department of Public Works deployed snow-removal teams 27 times — more than any other winter over the past decade. During the record-breaking 2009-2010 winter, the agency deployed teams 20 times.
Before the first snowflakes from the St. Patrick’s Day storm fell, several local governments had already spent their snow-removal budgets. The District had spent $8.7 million, $2.5 million above the budgeted amount of $6.2 million, said DPW spokeswoman Linda Grant.
In Montgomery County, where the snow-removal budget was $9.1 million this year, the county has spent $27.5 million treating streets and removing snow, according to officials. The totals are expected to go higher as officials add up expenses from the latest storm.
The snow has also led local governments, the federal government, and schools to close for a number of days.
Federal government offices have shut down four times because of snow since Jan. 1, according to the federal Office of Personnel Management. The last time the federal government saw that many snow days was February 2010, when federal offices closed for four straight days during the storm known as “Snowmageddon.”
Schools have been particularly hard hit by snow days.
In the District, where D.C. Public Schools have had six snow days, officials are turning early-dismissal days and parent-teacher conference days into full school days in order to make up the difference.
Some schools districts have enough time built in between now and the end of the school year to absorb the extra days, but others are looking to request waivers from the state for the time missed.
Prince George’s County Public Schools canceled classes eight times because of weather this year, pushing its last day of the school year back to June 17.
“We are planning on requesting a waiver from the state of Maryland for a few of those days,” schools spokesman Max A. Pugh Jr said.
The school system was able to waive five of the nine snow days accumulated during the 2009-2010 winter, Mr. Pugh said.
The Loudoun County Public Schools have closed the most of any of the local school districts, with 14 snow days, but students won’t have to worry about those days encroaching on their summer vacations. Because Loudoun school days are longer than most in the area, students spend enough time in class to count for 15 school cancellations.
Snowfall tends to hit the D.C. region in fits and starts from year to year, with accumulations in the past two winters recorded at 2 inches and 3.1 inches. But this year’s snowfall marks the fifth-highest accumulations recorded at Reagan airport since 1980, said Bryan Jackson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.