- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 1, 2003

The metropolitan Washington area can brace itself for rain today and more tomorrow after a somewhat lighter-than-expected snowstorm ended by midday yesterday.
The National Weather Service said flooding should not be a concern as long as temperatures stay below 50 degrees, according to meteorologist Steve Zubrick, who said a quarter of an inch of rain is expected.
The 3 to 5 inches of snow that fell Thursday and into yesterday morning caused little disruption of traffic or daily business, although most schools in the region closed again and many local governments granted liberal leave to employees, mostly eliminating any possibility of heavy traffic.
"It was a good day. The main roads were clear before rush hour. In previous years this might have been a significant storm, but considering it's the 10th storm of the season, it was a nonevent," said Joan Morris, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Up to a foot of snow was forecast for the region on Thursday, and the storm began as predicted that afternoon. By early morning yesterday, it looked as if it might deliver as expected. Snow was falling fast and hard, and 2 to 3 inches had already accumulated.
"I was a little concerned about the storm. I didn't want any more snow, that's for sure," said Francisco Sanson, 26, of Takoma Park.
Mr. Sanson said he woke up an hour and a half early to get to work on time, but had no problems getting to Bethesda, where he manages the Barking Dog restaurant and pub, and ended up arriving early.
"I was surprised. There was really no traffic on the road," he said.
The storm system ran out of energy sooner than expected, Mr. Zubrick said. Also, the snow that did fall was heavy and wet, and temperatures were only a few degrees below freezing, causing snow to melt quickly, particularly on roads that had been treated with salt and chemicals, he said.
Mr. Zubrick said during the Presidents Day weekend storm, which delivered more than 2 feet of snow in some parts of the region, the snow was lighter and drier, and temperatures were in the teens, making for longer-lasting accumulations.
"Anything that fell stayed frozen," he said.
This winter is the second-snowiest in Maryland's history, with 55.6 inches measured at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and much more in Western Maryland, where 4 feet fell over the Presidents Day weekend alone. At BWI, the total is 6.9 inches below the record of 62.5 inches in 1995-96.
The month of February became the snowiest in Maryland history on Wednesday, and with yesterday's total of 2.7 at BWI finished the month at 40.5 inches, far above the previous record of 33.9 inches set in 1899.
In the immediate Washington area, the month of February finished at 28.2 inches of snow, well below the record of 35.2 set in February 1899.
Road crews were able to treat the roads extensively yesterday because of the advance warning on the storm, Miss Morris said.
"Everybody had prepared for the worst. We were fully mobilized," she said, adding that she hopes road crews will now be able to get "a well-deserved rest."
Some maintenance workers "have been out there since February 9 nonstop, working 12-hour shifts, with potholes, flooding and repeated storms," Miss Morris said.
Surveyor Brian Eagon, 23, who was working outside yesterday in Bethesda, said, "I was sick of the snow the first day it got here. It's fun to play in, but as far as working in it, it's a pain."
Jody Curtis, 42, of Bethesda, said, "I still like it. The whole mystery of what will happen the next morning that hasn't worn off yet."
Her stepsons Curtis Behre, 10, and Jackson, 9, sat in a coffee shop with her deciding how to spend their day. Curtis said he wasn't upset that school systems are extending the school year to make up for the snow days they've used.
"I'm not concerned," Curtis said. "We have a big summer. It's three months."

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