- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2007

The second winter storm of the month arrived yesterday, dumping a surprising 5 to 6 inches in parts of the region but leaving far fewer problems than the pelting sleet on Valentine’s Day.

The steady and occasionally relentless snow in the morning caught many residents off guard. They expected a couple inches before the precipitation eventually turned to sleet, then rain. Temperatures stayed around freezing for much of the day, however, pushing the snowfall above forecasts.

The storm ended as predicted, with temperatures climbing just above the freezing mark to create a slushy mess on streets that was expected to cause few problems for the morning commute. The previous winter storm coated streets with ice, closed schools and downed power lines.

National Weather Service meteorologist Calvin Meadows said temperatures were expected to drop into the upper 20s last night, then increase to about 40 degrees this morning.

Yesterday’s storm was more of playground than a hazard. Children brought out their sleds, families frolicked in their yards, and snowballs and snowmen ruled the day as the wet flakes made for perfect packing.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty declared a snow emergency yesterday from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. that forced vehicles from parking on main roads so plows could remove the snow, then predicted a few hours later that government offices would probably open on time this morning.

“This snow was more straightforward,” he said. “The first snow turned to ice and was much harder to move. … Ice, sleet or snow, we are dropping the plows earlier.”

City school officials said classes would start today on time. Prince William County public schools was the only area district last night to close schools for today.

National Weather Service meteorologist David Manning said early models called for 1 to 3 inches and that the higher accumulations were the result of “temperatures above the surface staying colder for longer.”

He said the snowfall at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the official site for the District, was 3 inches for yesterday’s storm. Regions to the north and west of the city received slightly more while those to the south and east received mostly rain. However, 3 inches of snow fell as far east as Easton, across the Bay Bridge.

Frederick County and parts of Fairfax County received the most snow with 6 inches. Howard and Montgomery counties got 5 inches.

The Feb. 14 storm resulted in only about 2 inches of snow and sleet across the region, but knocked out power to thousands of residents and closed schools and offices for several days.

Power companies reported limited outages yesterday evening. More than 1,000 Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. customers were without power in Anne Arundel County. And more than 1,000 Potomac Electric Power Co. customers in the District, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties were without power.

Metro trains ran a normal schedule with few weather delays. De-icer trains were deployed to clear tracks of snow and ice, said Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato. However, bus riders had to go to main thoroughfares to catch a Metrobus because there was too much snow on side streets, agency officials said.

Officials across the region reported no serious traffic accidents and said last night all major roads and most secondary roads were clear.

“We got more than we were expecting, but this snow is slushy and easily pushable,” said David Buck, a Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman. “Plus, the salt is working, which means the roads are looking good.”

The National Zoo closed for the day. Many churches canceled services. Most schools and colleges canceled extracurricular activities. Fairfax County closed its libraries, park facilities and community centers.

The District and Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and much of Northern Virginia will be under a storm warning until 4 a.m. this morning.

The massive winter storm, from the South to the Canadian border, lost power as it moved east but killed at least eight motorists and caused major problems. Parts of the Midwest received as much as 2 feet of snow, grounding at least 235 flights in Chicago and closing major highways in the Plains. Seven of the deaths were in Wisconsin, and one was in Kansas.

Tornadoes were reported in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

In the Midwest, utility crews reported ice 2 inches thick coating power lines in Illinois’ Mercer County. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 68 mph in the Denver area Saturday and 7-foot snowdrifts in western Kansas.

Reagan Airport was forced to close briefly at about noon and at 1:35 p.m. to clear snow-covered runways. Washington Dulles International Airport spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said the heavy snow tapered off there about 2:30 p.m. and at least one runway was kept open all day.

Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport remained open yesterday and weather-related delays and cancellations were caused mostly by weather conditions in other parts of the country, said airport spokesman Jonathan Dean.

“The runways are wet, but things are business as usual,” he said.

Road crews across the region were salting and sanding streets before the snow started to fall at about 8 a.m.

In Northern Virginia, 850 snow trucks were dispatched to clear interstate and main roads. Crews on 700 trucks were scheduled to remain on duty throughout the night to keep roads from freezing.

In Prince George’s County, crews in 242 vehicles began 12—hour shifts yesterday at 5 a.m., concentrating on salting bridges and overpasses and keeping primary highways and roads clear. They then worked on the secondary roads and residential streets.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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