- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Not even a flake on Christmas and nothing on Inauguration Day. But winter finally came to the District and nearby areas Tuesday as the first storm arrived with measurable snowfall - to the delight of children and the frustration of motorists.

Schoolchildren made the best of school closings in many counties, breaking out the sleds and toboggans and taking to the hills.

Catherine Harris, 29, was playing in the snow with her daughter Nissa, 5, near Union Station.

“It’s great for snow lovers. How many times in D.C. can we make snow angels?” she said.

Much less fun - and equally rare recently - is shoveling snow, as Steven Taylor, 47, was forced to do outside his home near Third Street and Maryland Avenue Northeast.

“Snow comes along in D.C. not very often, but it definitely comes along. In the last three or four years, I can probably count the number of times I’ve shoveled my walkway on one hand.”

It was the first significant snowfall D.C. residents have gotten since last February.

The National Weather Service forecast a total of 3 inches of snow in the Washington region Tuesday, part of a large low pressure system that dumped ice and snow across a large swath of the eastern United States. The storm was expected to worsen into Wednesday morning with winter storm warnings remaining until noon in Montgomery, Howard, Fauquier and Loudoun counties.

The Weather Service posted a weather advisory until noon in areas including Anne Arundel, Prince George’s, Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties, and the District.

Precipitation was expected to increase Tuesday night in the form of a “wintry mix” of snow, sleet, and freezing rain capable of leaving up to a quarter-inch of ice. Rain and perhaps freezing rain was forecast for Wednesday morning.

“Its pretty much the first real accumulation of snow D.C. has had this season,” said Weather Service spokesman Stephen Konarik. “There hasn’t been anything more than a few flakes until now.”

“Things should be quieter for the next week, there could be some precipitation, but nothing like what we’ve seen today,” Mr. Konarik said.

Traffic accidents got an expected spike Tuesday morning and afternoon, while the afternoon rush was expected to bring far worse pains to commuters as falling snow changed to sleet and freezing rain.

The most serious accident occurred in Frederick, Md., when a man was killed after his vehicle crashed into a tractor-trailer as he was attempting a left turn on U.S. Route 15. The accident occurred about 7:45 a.m., obstructing traffic for more than three hours.

“It was definately a hellacious rush hour. Unfortunately, Washingtonians are notorious for not being able to handle the snow,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend said. “One inch can paralyze the city.”

“We are very worried about this evening’s commute, snowy roads are bad, but icy roads are worse,” D.C. Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle said Tuesday. The department deployed more than 200 snowplows about 5 a.m. Tuesday morning to pour salt on the city’s 2,950 miles of roadway and 241 bridges.

On average, the Washington region receives about 5 inches of snow by late January, Mr. Konarik said. The snowiest January in the city’s history was in 1922, when 31 inches were dumped on the city.

The system also created havoc across a large swath of Southern and Mid-Atlantic states.In West Virginia, public schools were closed in all of the state’s 55 counties. In Kentucky, nearly 20,000 people went without power as ice up to 1.5 inches thick froze power lines and snapped tree branches in the western part of the state.


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