- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2001

Washington-area residents escaped the brunt of a major snowstorm yesterday, getting mostly rain and a few snow showers from a weather system that passed so quickly that by lunchtime the sun had begun to peek through the clouds.
Temperatures hovered around the freezing mark across much of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, making yesterday's morning commute to work or school wet and icy in some spots, but mostly trouble-free.
The National Weather Service said yesterday the District and its suburbs remained on the edge of the storm's path, which moved up the East Coast to Boston. It is expected to head out to sea tomorrow.
"It was close, but not close enough," Jim Travers, a meteorologist at the NWS in Sterling, Va., said yesterday.
Still, the storm came close enough to leave behind several inches of snow in parts north and west of the District and only traces throughout neighborhoods inside the Capital Beltway. The big storm had threatened to dump from four to 12 inches of snow on the Washington area.
"It was pretty much a nonevent," said Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation, which had about 1,000 salt and sand trucks cleaning the roads in Northern Virginia Sunday night and early yesterday.
By the time the precipitation ended shortly after noon, the weather service reported that 7.5 inches of snow had fallen in Allegany County, Md.; 2.5 inches in Frederick, Md.; one-tenth of an inch in Silver Spring, Md; 1 inch at Dulles International Airport near Herndon, Va.; and a quarter of an inch at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va.
"Originally, the potential was there for four inches of snow or more," said Mr. Travers.
Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County, Md., and neighborhoods inside the Beltway in Virginia, Maryland and the District reported about a quarter of an inch of snow on the ground.
Yesterday's mix of rain and snow was caused by two low pressure areas colliding over the Delmarva peninsula, one loaded with moist air from the south and the other bringing cold air from the north, Mr. Travers said.
But the storm didn't affect the metropolitan area as predicted late last week because the cold air from the north didn't move in fast enough, Mr. Travers said. "We were lucky."
Local governments continued to clean side streets and highways through late morning, when the precipitation began to subside. For the most part, roads were clear and did not affect morning rush hour. State police in Virginia and Maryland said there were fewer accidents on the highways in Northern Virginia and the Maryland suburbs than on a day with normal weather.
Local governments had made sure they were ready for the big snowstorm.
In Maryland, about 800 trucks were out on state roads, with the majority in the western part of the state, where the weather was blamed for a number of car wrecks. Meanwhile, some 150 road crews were out cleaning the streets in the District once the snow began to fall around 4 a.m. yesterday.
"Everything went pretty smoothly," said Mary Myers, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works in the District. "We were ready."
All road crews remained on call through today. The weather service called for a chance of snow showers ending sometime after evening rush hour.
The weather also prompted scattered school closings, mostly in central and Western Maryland and southwestern Virginia.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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