- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 11, 2006

The region’s first winter storm of the year was more like an impolite guest that kept everybody waiting and wondering about its arrival late into the night.

The first wet snowflakes began to fall across the region in the late afternoon yesterday, after little more than dreary drizzle most of the day. Late last night, the National Weather Service predicted that the storm would bring 3 to 7 inches of snow, with another inch or two overnight.

“It’s a far-reaching storm, and it’s going to end up leaving its share of snow before it’s said and done,” said James Brotherton, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Baltimore-Washington office.

Manny Godson, of Landover Hills, was among the more laconic storm-related customers who ventured out for food and other supplies at Shopper’s Food Warehouse on Bladensburg Road.

“I know that winter’s coming, so why would I act surprised when it gets here?” he said as he pushed an empty cart through the aisles. “I’m not one of those people who goes out of his way to stock up. I can always come out and do what I need.”

The weather service expected most of the snow to fall before residents awake today.

The storm is a combination of low pressure from the Gulf Coast region and cold air from the Midwest that met near Mobile, Ala., then churned up the coast to create a classic Nor’easter. The storm typically brings strong wind that churns heavy surf.

The weather service issued blizzard warnings from New York City to eastern New England, where heavy-snow warnings were in effect from eastern Kentucky to southeastern New York state.

The storm brought mostly cold rain to the South, with snow showers reported in Kentucky, the Ohio Valley and parts of the Mississippi Valley.

Area road crews were prepared for the arrival of the storm and had salted most streets by yesterday morning.

The District sent out about 200 plows and trucks, which also treated bridges and overpasses, said Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Rice.

“We’ve been ready since 7 a.m.,” he said yesterday.

City officials declared a snow emergency at 7 p.m. yesterday.

Parked vehicles must be moved off city streets designated as snow-emergency routes so plows can reach curb lanes. The routes are marked with red-and-white signs. Tow trucks will relocate unmoved vehicles, and their owners will be issued $250 tickets.

Streets were wet with a little snow on their surfaces late last night.

Virginia transportation crews begin plowing when the snow is two inches deep, which meant most of their trucks also sat idle.

“We had more crews than we would have liked,” said Ryan Hall, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation. About 800 workers were on standby for most of yesterday, he said. An additional 1,000 workers joined them as snowfall became heavier.

David Buck, spokesman for Maryland’s State Highway Administration, said the storm’s late arrival had no effect on cleanup efforts. About 2,400 trucks were deployed statewide yesterday, half of which were on call since 9 a.m. yesterday.

“It’s not a workday [today]. That and the lack of a rush hour will help us,” Mr. Buck said.

Public schools in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties canceled all weekend activities. In Virginia, Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties and Alexandria also canceled school activities.

Metro canceled track work scheduled for the weekend, but expects to run normal Metrorail and Metrobus service today. Adjustments to service will be made as necessary if road conditions worsen, officials said.

Some flights out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport to Boston and New York were canceled yesterday afternoon and more cancellations were expected as more snow moved into the area.

Delta Air Lines canceled its Sunday arrivals and departures to the airports and to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Jonathan Dean, a BWI spokesman, reported “scattered” cancellations yesterday and said delays and more cancellations today would depend upon the amount of snow overnight.

“We don’t know, … so we always encourage passengers to call their airline and check airport Web sites,” he said.

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