- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2005

A blustery, fast-moving storm yesterday dropped about an inch of snow across the Washington area, where less than 24 hours earlier residents had enjoyed sunny, summerlike weather.

The storm brought wind gusts up to 45 mph and rain, which by midmorning changed to snow. The combination of snow and wind gusts created visibility problems during the morning commute.

Temperatures plunged nearly 30 degrees within several hours yesterday morning. Temperatures were at 58 degrees at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport shortly before 4 a.m. By about 11 a.m., temperatures fell to 29 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

By midafternoon, the system began moving out of the region and the sun reappeared, giving the weather even more of a schizophrenic feel.

“It’s certainly interesting to talk about,” said Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Silver Spring. “To see near-70-degree temperatures [Monday], then to have an inch or so of snow … but this sort of day-to-day change, it’s what you expect to see this time of year.”

Forecasters say the area could see more snow over the next three days.

The pavement on the roads retained some of the warmth of Monday’s weather, Mr. Vaccaro said. “So the ground was only wet,” he said.

Area transportation officials said the storm had little to no effect on the morning commute.

In the District, about 50 trucks were on standby, said Bill Rice, a spokesman for the city’s transportation department. Aside from some side streets, the roads were fine, he said.

“We’re keeping an eye on the roads, particularly bridges,” Mr. Rice said. Sensors on city bridges alert crews when temperatures drop below freezing.

Traffic on state roads and highways in Maryland was minimally affected, state highway administration officials said.

“The pavement temperatures were about 36 degrees to 38 degrees, so the roads stayed dry,” said David Buck, a spokesman for Maryland State Highway Administration. The stiff winds helped dry the roads before the snow could freeze, he said.

“It was more of a visibility thing, because it was coming down pretty heavy for a few hours there,” Mr. Buck said. “Once the snow ended, the traffic cleared.”

Maryland State Police investigated many accidents caused by bad weather yesterday morning, but they said the most serious was one on Interstate 70 that injured a Williamsport, Md., woman and her 1-year-old daughter.

Police said Chrysanthemum Xavier Shaver, 26, lost control of her Chevrolet Blazer, crossed the median from eastbound Interstate 70 near the Route 40 interchange near Funkstown, Md., and overturned. Miss Shaver and her daughter were taken to Washington County Hospital with injuries that were serious, but not life-threatening. No charges have been filed.

In addition, I-70 was closed in both directions near Myersville, Md., because of an accident involving three tractor-trailers, Mr. Buck said.

The accident, which occurred shortly after it began snowing, closed the highway between Myersville and the Frederick County and Washington County line. No significant injuries were reported.

In Virginia, Ryan Hall, a spokesman for the state’s transportation department, called yesterday’s snowfall a “nonevent” that had no major effect on traffic.

“The main problem was visibility and wind gusts. We had less than 50 trucks on call. There weren’t that many accidents reported, and we didn’t have to salt,” he said.

Mr. Hall said Virginia Department of Transportation crews would keep an eye on the overpasses at the Mixing Bowl in Springfield, which remains under construction.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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