- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2002

The season's first significant snowstorm avoided the District yesterday morning, but dumped almost a foot of snow in southeast Virginia and half a foot in Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

But meteorologists said a second system, which appears to be forming off the east coast of Texas where yesterday's system began might cover the region with snow on Sunday.

"There is a storm developing in the Gulf of Mexico, and it could certainly present a chance for some snow," said Parks Camp, a National Weather Service meteorologist in the Sterling, Va., office. "It could follow a similar path."

Today's clear weather, partial sun and temperatures in the lower 40s represent a lull before the next storm, Mr. Camp said.

Yesterday morning's storm closed Southern Maryland schools in Calvert and Charles counties, and delayed school openings by two hours in St. Mary's County, where six inches of snow fell.

Eastern Shore schools in Somerset, Talbot, Worcester and Wicomico counties also were closed, school officials said.

By 1 p.m. yesterday, Hampton, Va., had 11 inches of snow, Mr. Camp said.

At Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport, no aircraft were on the ground by midmorning because arrivals from other airports had been delayed, according to Mark Falon, an airport spokesman.

"We had four inches on the runways, and we've been plowing since midnight," Mr. Falon said.

Norfolk International Airport remained open, but some flights were delayed, mostly owing to weather problems at other airports, said Wayne Shank, deputy executive director.

"We maintained the airport throughout the night [and] started major snow-removal operations about 4:30 a.m.," Mr. Shank said.

Langley Air Force Base, Norfolk Naval Station and other military bases were either closed or open only to essential personnel.

The storm left roads in the South treacherous yesterday from snow and sleet, which caused power outages, snarled traffic and prompted South Carolina's governor to declare a state of emergency and to activate the National Guard to help stranded drivers.

The storm caused hundreds of traffic accidents and at least nine fatalities, primarily in the South.

In South Carolina, two women died when their cars skidded on ice and were struck by oncoming traffic, and a man who was trying to help a stranded motorist was hit by a tractor-trailer and killed.

Three deaths in Mississippi and two in suburban Atlanta also were blamed on slick roads. In North Carolina, a motorist died shortly before noon yesterday when a tractor-trailer collided with a vehicle on Interstate 77 near Charlotte.

The storm formed off the east coast of Texas and moved through the Gulf, Mr. Camp said. It left the Gulf on Wednesday, stretching through the southeast.

Yesterday morning, it was in Cape Hatteras, N.C., and after touching southeast Virginia and parts of Maryland, it moved out to the ocean, he said.

Whether the next system hits the Washington area depends largely on where it begins and travels after forming, he said.

"If it stays closer to the coast, then snow spreads into the D.C. metro area," Mr. Camp said.

Virginia State Police responded to hundreds of accidents across the state but no deaths were reported.

A jackknifed tractor-trailer north of Petersburg closed southbound Interstate 95 for about an hour before dawn.

"Our crews will continue to work until the snow is all clear," said Jeff Caldwell, a Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman.

By afternoon, most primary roads and interstates were clear and crews were working on secondary roads, Mr. Caldwell said.

About 40 percent of Richmond International Airport's 170 daily flights were either delayed or canceled, primarily because of problems at other airports, according to Troy Bell, an airport spokesman.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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