- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 24, 2016

The District of Columbia, like other cities on the East Coast, got to work Sunday digging itself out from under a 2-foot blanket of snow after a colossal winter storm brought activity to a standstill from the mid-Atlantic region to New England over the weekend.

But a return to the normal bustle of the nation’s capital may still be a few days away, with schools and local and federal governments opting to remain closed Monday as crews work to remove snow from streets.

Travel is likely to be difficult for days to come. The region’s subway system will partially reopen Monday, offering limited but free service to some underground train stations.

All three of the region’s major airports were closed during the storm, and only one was expected to resume some flights Sunday night. Although snowplows made progress on clearing major thoroughfares, revealing ribbons of pavement for the first time in 36 hours, residential roads remained largely impassable.

“Two feet of snow is a lot to move,” said Chris Geldart, director of the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. “We are going to be moving snow all this week.”

In Maryland, highway transportation officials said interstates and primary thoroughfares are expected to be cleared by Monday, but secondary and residential roads may not be passable for some time.

“Even though this storm has now moved past us, getting back to business as usual is going to take a considerable amount of time,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

It’s going to take a significant amount of money as well. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the commonwealth is spending $2 million to $3 million an hour to clear snow and treat roads across the state.

“At the end of the day, this could be our most expensive snow event ever,” said Mr. McAuliffe, projecting a total cost of $100 million.

The National Weather Service reported snowfall totals ranging from 25 inches to 35 inches across the Washington and Baltimore region. An unofficial tally puts the snowfall total at 29.3 inches at Washington Dulles International Airport, ranking this storm second behind only “Snowmageddon” in 2010.

The storm dropped snow from the Gulf Coast to New England. The heaviest official report was 42 inches, in Glengary, West Virginia, but significant accumulations elsewhere stranded tens of thousands of travelers and forced countless others to change plans.

Nationally, nearly 12,000 weekend flights were canceled. Airports resumed very limited service in New York and Philadelphia, which said it got an entire amount of winter snow in two days.

Major airlines also canceled hundreds of flights for Monday. Along with clearing snow and ice from facilities and equipment, the operators of airlines, trains and transit systems had to figure out how to get snowbound employees to work.

Amtrak ran fewer trains on all its routes, serving many people who couldn’t travel otherwise, spokesman Marc Magliari said.

Not even the Washington political class was spared travel woes.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden, returning to the U.S. from meetings with world leaders in Turkey, was diverted to Miami on Air Force Two on Saturday night instead of landing as planned at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

Mr. Biden’s office said he and his wife, Jill, will return to Washington “as soon as weather conditions permit.”

At least 28 people reportedly died as a result of the storm. Causes included car accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning and heart attacks while shoveling snow.

One of those who died was a U.S. Capitol Police officer who suffered a heart attack after shoveling snow at his home in Delaware. Nicole Alston said her husband, 44-year-old Vernon Alston, collapsed Saturday afternoon outside their home in Magnolia after he had been shoveling snow for about an hour. She said he died within seconds.

Foreseeing the travel difficulties, area school systems and local governments, including the entire Virginia state government, announced they would remain closed Monday. Some schools, including the Fairfax County and Montgomery County public schools, went a step further and opted to cancel classes through Tuesday.

The federal government closed its offices at noon Friday, and the Office of Personnel Management on Sunday said government agencies would remain closed Monday. The House of Representatives postponed votes until February, citing the storm’s impact on travel.

Public transportation will be a limited option for those who may have difficulty digging their vehicles out of the snow.

Metro canceled all train and bus service over the weekend. It will resume underground train service Monday only on portions of the Orange, Green and Red lines.

Flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport were canceled Saturday and Sunday with runways shut down. Neither airport has projected when service would resume.

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport was set to resume some flights Sunday night.

Area leaders pleaded with residents to stay off the roads if possible while crews continued to plow and treat roadways.

“Roads are still extremely treacherous,” Mr. Hogan said.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said officers would be taking a more aggressive approach to discourage motorists from heading out on city streets. The District will issue tickets to drivers whose cars become stuck on snow emergency routes, where vehicles are currently banned from parking.

“This cleanup is a public safety issue,” Chief Lanier said. “Even four-wheel drives are getting stuck out here.”

First responders also had difficulty responding to emergencies during the storm.

Officials said a woman in labor had to be taken to a hospital in a Montgomery County firetruck Saturday after a responding ambulance broke a snow chain and got stuck. A plow and a military all-wheel-drive truck assisted.

The woman was taken to a Holy Cross Hospital, where spokeswoman Yolanda Gaskins said she gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 11:18 a.m. Sunday.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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