- The Washington Times - Monday, February 8, 2010

Washington-area residents on Monday cautiously tried to return to life as usual, some venturing to work on icy sidewalks and slow-running subway trains while others continued to shovel out from the record weekend snowfall and regroup before the next looming storm.

Federal agencies canceled work today for its roughly 230,000 employees in the region, and most school districts were closed. But thousands of service-industry workers and other employees were waiting at subway stations when the gates swung open at 7 a.m., two hours later than usual.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the region’s transportation agency, still is not running trains through above-ground stations, following the roughly 2 feet of snow that fell from Friday night through late Saturday afternoon. The agency at midday reported delays on all subway lines and “very limited” bus service, along many main roads still covered in snow.

The region’s three major airports — Reagan National, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall and Washington Dulles International — were all open by mid-morning. However, officials advised passengers to expect delays and cancellations.

Amtrak said its Acela Express service between Washington and Boston on the Northeast Corridor is operating at full schedule but its Northeast Regional service will have some cancellations.

Some service is disrupted because the heavy, wet snow downed trees and power lines, including some on sections of freight tracks in Virginia.

Thousands in the region were still without power this afternoon.

Maryland and District official said at midday that main highways are passable as snow removal continues amid near-freezing temperatures.

Maryland State Highway Administration spokeswoman Mariska Jordan said most of the state’s interstates and main roads are drivable. However, freezing temperatures have left some roads icy.

The D.C. Department of Transportation said cleanup is on schedule. The city tries to have main streets clear within 36 hours of the end of a storm. Department spokeswoman Karyn Le Blanc said they’ve met that goal.

The city tries to get residential streets clear within 60 hours after a storm. Ms. Le Blanc said efforts to get residential streets clear could be hampered by the fact that more snow is expected Tuesday and crews will have to pre-treat roads for that storm.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, vowed over the weekend to have the city running by Monday morning and said schools would open two hours late. However, he later closed schools for the day.

The National Weather Service called the storm “historic” and reported a foot of snow in parts of Ohio and 2 feet or more in the District of Columbia, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Parts of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia got closer to 3 feet.

The agency issued a storm watch for the Washington area for Tuesday, saying there was potential for another 5 inches or more of snow. Forecasters expect highs in the low- to mid-30s for the next few days, though sunshine on Monday should help melt some of the snow, weather service meteorologist Bryan Jackson said.

The sight of cross-country skiers cascading down monument steps and flying snowballs has since given way to images of people hunched over snow shovels or huddled next to fireplaces.

John and Nicole Ibrahim and their 2-year-old son, Joshua, have been without power at their suburban Washington home in Silver Spring since overnight Friday. They were among hundreds of thousands without electricity across the region, and utilities warned it could be days before electricity is restored to everyone.

“We were all bundled up in the same bed together, and (Joshua) was coughing in his sleep, and his heart was racing, and we worried he might be getting pneumonia,” Mrs. Ibrahim said.

In Philadelphia, 28.5 inches of snow fell during the storm, just shy of the record 30.7 inches during a January 1996 blizzard. Snow totals were even higher to the west in Pennsylvania, with 31 inches recorded in Upper Strasburg and 30 inches in Somerset.

Allegheny Power reported outages to about 65,000 customers. West Virginia had about 5,000 customers without electricity.

Authorities say most public transportation in Philadelphia has resumed. In Pittsburgh, bus service has restarted, but light-rail wasn’t running.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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