- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 8, 2013

D.C. area commuters face icy road conditions Monday morning, as the remnants of a winter storm Sunday turn into dangerous freezing rain.

The winter weather that dropped a half-foot of snow west of the District, snarling traffic and canceling seasonal events, was expected to transform to rain mid-morning and continue throughout the day.

Most of the region was under a winter storm warning until 10 a.m. Monday, and daytime temperatures were only expected to get to around 40 degrees.

“The morning commute could be very slippery,” National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Hofmann said, adding that more wet weather was in the forecast. “There may be another push of precipitation very late Monday night and into Tuesday.”

The powerful storm moving across the Plains and the Midwest last week passed through the West Virginia panhandle early Sunday, dumping snow and then sleet as it made its way east. It was forecast to drop as much as a foot of snow on some parts of Delaware and New Jersey.

Even as area airports scrambled to clear their runways, airlines reported multiple flight delays and cancellations. Baltimore’s 41st annual Christmas parade was canceled, the National Zoo closed early because of the weather, and the home fields for both the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens had a layer of snow during their home games Sunday.

Lee Jacobs, manager of Nichols Hardware in Purcellville, Va., said the first snow of the season brought out customers.

“We’ve been selling snow shovels, ice melt and Christmas trees,” Mr. Jacobs said. “Two or three inches isn’t going to slow us down.”

Maryland State Highway Administration officials said more than 1,800 trucks were on the road Sunday clearing and salting streets, and they anticipated crews working through the night. A snow emergency plan was in effect for many counties, including Frederick, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Cecil and Howard.

Authorities said snow removal efforts on Interstate 81 in Washington County in Maryland were delayed for hours because of a chain-reaction accident involving more than 20 vehicles.

State police say the highway was closed in both directions for about three hours following a crash at around 11:30 a.m., when a tractor-trailer ran into the median to avoid cars that had spun out.

Police did not report any life-threatening injuries as a result of the crashes.

Utility companies said crews were at the ready, but by Sunday evening few outages were reported.

By about 6 p.m., Fairfax County officials announced schools would be closed Monday.

While the D.C. area attempted to handle its first winter storm this season, more than 18 inches of snow has fallen at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort since October, and an extra 2 inches only helped to entice snow bunnies to make their way to the slopes, dispatcher Lois Good said.

“We didn’t figure people would be traveling, but there’s quite a few skiers,” Ms. Good said from the resort in eastern West Virginia, about 220 miles west of the District. “We’ve been skiing here since the day before Thanksgiving. The 2 inches of new snow is a fresh powder.”

Before the storm reached the D.C. area, it walloped the central states with ice, snow and freezing temperatures.

About 7 inches of snow was recorded in northeast Arkansas and Missouri, while 8 to 9 inches fell in southern Indiana. Some parts of Illinois were buried under a foot of snow.

Earlier last week, Montana residents shivered through temperatures as low as 27 degrees below zero in Havre, Mont., while parts of Minnesota were buried under 2 feet of snow.

The dire forecast meant good business for Rob Cline, store manager of Sunset Supply in Frederick, Md.

“We have a lot of Muck boots and been selling a lot of those today,” Mr. Cline said Sunday, referring to a popular brand of winter footwear. “A fair amount of salt, but it’s mostly been boots, snow boots, clothes and gloves.”

Mr. Cline said that by mid-afternoon plows had come past his store in Libertytown, Md., four times.

“We’re up to 6 or 7 inches,” Mr. Cline said. “There’s a lot more people on the road than we would expect. I would hope there would not be that many already.”

Mr. Cline said regardless of conditions his store would be open Monday for anyone needing supplies.

“We’re a mom-and-pop store,” he said. “We’re like mailmen. We’ll be open.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports

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