- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow boots and shovels were close at hand Tuesday as Washington-area residents prepared for another winter storm while recovering from the weekend’s massive snowfall.

The storm was expected to arrive late Tuesday afternoon in some areas after dumping several inches of snow on the Midwest. Forecasters said it would collide with another weather system sweeping up the Mid-Atlantic coast and drop at least another 10 inches on the region.

The back-to-back storms have left even the most passionate snow lovers weary and hardware stores empty.

“Every third question is, ‘Do you have shovels?’” said Jerry Bennett, manager of a hardware store in Silver Spring, Md.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warming for the Mid-Atlantic that was expected to last through 7 p.m. Wednesday. Temperatures were forecast to drop into the low 20s, with wind gusts as strong as 25 mph.

The powerful winter storm — extending into New York and New England — arrived after a weekend storm that dropped 2 to 3 feet of snow across Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. New York City announced that students would have a rare snow day Wednesday, only the third in six years.

The federal government and most area school districts have been closed since Monday, and the most recent storm is expected to extend the snow holiday.

The storm also arrived just as municipal crews had finished clearing secondary roads and side streets, and buses and trains started running on time.

A D.C. spokeswoman said snowplows in the city have taken such a beating during the cleanup that a quarter of them at one point needed maintenance or were out of commission. She also said the District has had to borrow road salt from Baltimore.

On Tuesday morning, Washington Metro Area Transit Authority trains reached above-ground stops. The agency also said more than 300 buses were operating as of 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Amtrak trains were running on time from Union Station — at the base of Capitol Hill and where cabbies were charging arriving passengers as much $100 for the short ride downtown.

Power remained out for tens of thousands of homes and businesses, and utilities said deep snow was hindering some crews trying to fix damaged power lines before the next storm.

A new wave of cold residents was checking into the Hilton in Silver Spring. Among them were Bill and Ann Hilliard and their two elderly cats. Temperatures in their powerless Montgomery County home had dropped into the 40s. With another foot of snow forecast, they didn’t want to stay home.

Mrs. Hilliard recently had part of her leg amputated, and neighbors helped them out of their home.

Potomac Electric Power Co., which serves the District and suburban Maryland, reported Tuesday afternoon that 10,419 customers were still without power. Hardest hit was Montgomery County, where 3 feet of snow fell on some neighborhoods over the weekend. County officials canceled classes for the remainder of the week.

Another major concern was that the accumulating snow would cause roofs to collapse.

Don Masoero, the District’s chief building inspector, told WTOP Radio that the weekend storm had most roofs already supporting their limits of roughly 25 pounds per square foot.

He recommended that homeowners not try to clear the snow and instead look for cracks in ceilings and listen for “groaning, popping or scratching” — noises that indicate a roof is stressed.

“Sound is a very good indicator,” he said.

A 60-year-old man from Upper Marlboro, Md., was among the first reported injured trying to clear snow from his garage roof. He was thrown Tuesday from his ladder when the roof collapsed and sustained potentially serious injuries, authorities said. In 1998, such cave-ins were blamed for the deaths of at least three West Virginia residents.

Though roughly 230,000 federal workers stayed home, the Obama administration and congressional leaders were busy.

In the morning, President Obama signed an executive order to aggressively address the problem of childhood obesity, then met with Republicans and fellow Democrats from Capitol Hill to discuss the economy and jobs.

The president said jokingly that the meeting went so well that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, had gone out to play in the snow.

“I understand that McConnell and Reid are out doing snow angels on the South Lawn together,” he said during a rare, unannounced stop in the White House briefing room.

The White House moved a Black History Month concert — featuring Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson and Natalie Cole — to Tuesday because of the storm.

The House scrapped its entire workweek. Mr. Reid said he wanted to cancel the Wednesday Senate session.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said the chamber will not meet the rest of the week and no votes are scheduled.

Mr. Hoyer, who lost power in the snowstorm, defended the decision to close the federal government at the estimated taxpayer cost of $100 million in lost productivity per day.

“This isn’t a storm of 1 or 2 or 3 inches,” he said. “It is a hellacious challenge … for anybody challenged with trying to clear these roads.”

Jennifer Haberkorn contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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