A winter storm blew heavy snow into the nation’s capital region on Monday, bringing an estimated one to 12 inches of snow and shutting down public transportation, flights and schools.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a winter storm warning through 4 p.m. Monday, noting the heaviest amounts of snow will most likely accumulate near and south of U.S. 50.
Some parts of the District, central Maryland and northern Virginia saw anywhere from one to 12 inches of snow.
“Travel conditions are hazardous across much of northern and central Virginia into the DC metro, central and southern Maryland due to heavy snow, gusty winds and snow covered roadways. Snow ends from west to east during the midday through mid afternoon,” the NWS said in its winter storm message Monday. “When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery, increasing your risk of a fall and injury.”
Buses that were not already in service were held at stops until it was safe to resume service, Metro said.
The transit agency suggested customers use the Metrorail service instead, which had trains running every 12 to 24 minutes. Metro added there could be some minor delays with Metrorail service so that deicer trains can clear rails of snow and ice.
More than half of flights were either canceled or delayed Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport, Ronald Reagan National Airport and Baltimore/Washington International Airport, a FlightAware.com’s misery map showed. More than 100 flights were canceled while more than 50 flights were delayed from the airports as of Monday morning, according to the tracker.
The snow grounded President Biden’s helicopter as well, the Associated Press reported. Mr. Biden instead traveled to the White House from Andrews Air Force Base with a motorcade although officials warned against traveling on roads.
Multiple school systems throughout the region on Monday were closed, delayed or switched to virtual learning due to the inclement weather. DC Public Schools announced it will push back its date for students and staff to return to school to Thursday.
The Virginia State Police (VSP) tweeted it received more than 2,000 calls for service as of about 4 p.m. Monday. Earlier in the afternoon, the VSP said it responded to 559 traffic crashes and 522 disabled or stuck vehicles across the state.
The Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed Tuesday morning that both directions of Interstate 95 were shut down between Ruther Glen, Virginia, in Caroline County and exit 152 in Dumfries, Prince William County, The Associated Press reported. A crash involving six tractor trailers on Monday around noon lead to the shutdown, leaving drivers stranded for hours, although no injuries were reported, the wire service said.
The Maryland State Police said it responded to 132 crashes, 157 disabled vehicles and 515 service calls between 3:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday.
Maryland’s transportation department deployed more than 2,100 pieces of equipment, according to Gov. Larry Hogan. He said snow accumulations were expected to be the greatest along the I-95 corridor, south and east of the interstate.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday the snow emergency was extended to Tuesday at 7 a.m. She said the timeline of the storm started later than expected and an extension would allow crews more time to clear roads.
“Crews have been out in the District since midnight, focused on salting and plowing roads. Having the snow emergency in effect allows those teams to plow the snow emergency routes from curb to curb,” Miss Bowser said. “I can’t emphasize enough right now that you should stay home. Stay off the roads to allow our crews to work, and protect yourselves. The roads right now are very slick in some places, hard to pass, and we need our crews to be able to work to get to those roads.”
City officials also issued a cold-weather emergency alert.
Alyson Hoegg, senior meteorologist for Accuweather, said Monday’s snowfall could eclipse last year’s snowfall for the entire winter. As of 9:15 a.m. Monday, the D.C. area got about four inches of snow, but was expected to get another couple of inches throughout the day, according to Ms. Hoegg.
“Seeing six inches of snow at this point of the year, especially if you compare it to last year, I think people are a little shocked at this because last year was so tame overall in terms of snowfall,” she said.
As of 1 p.m. Monday, the NWS actually recorded 8.5 inches of snow for the District.
She said snow was falling at an “incredible rate” across the D.C. area, with up to two inches per hour in some places. The rate of the snowfall added another challenge for crews to keep roads clear, Ms. Hoegg noted. Wind gusts of about 35 mph and the heavy, wet snow could also lead to power outages.
Nearly 504,000 customers in Maryland and Virginia were without power late Monday afternoon, a state-by-state tracker from PowerOutage.US showed.
During the 2020-2021 winter, the D.C. area only saw 5.4 inches of snow, Ms. Hoegg said, citing measurements recorded by the Ronald Reagan airport.
The average snowfall recorded by the D.C. airport for the winter season is 13.7 inches, Ms. Hoegg said. She added the District this winter is anticipated to see an average or slightly below average snowfall while areas west of the city are expected to see below-average snowfall.