WASHINGTON — A winter storm packing heavy snow blew into the nation’s capital Monday, closing government offices and schools and grounding the president’s helicopter. As much as 10 inches of snow was forecast for the District of Columbia, northern Virginia and central Maryland.
Southbound traffic is stopped and northbound traffic is significantly delayed on Interstate 95 in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
“Crews [are working] to clear major incidents in Stafford County involving disabled or crashed tractor-trailers,” a VDOT spokesperson wrote in an email. “VDOT has more than 50 trucks deployed along I-95 in the Fredericksburg area, and VDOT and towing crews continue to work reach the scene of these incidents to remove the trucks, plow travel lanes, and treat the road.”
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the area, with wind gusts of up to 35 mph forecast. Travel was expected to be very difficult because of the hazardous conditions.
“It was balmy and foggy yesterday and then 6 inches of snow this morning, not even 12 hours later. That’s not something I’ve seen before,” said Shawn Devroude, 52, a federal worker who braved the blizzard-like conditions in the nation’s capital to play with his 9-year-old border collie, MoJo, at the Naval Memorial.
The heavy snowfall, coupled with closings caused by the surge in COVID-19 cases, forced much of Washington to shut down. Four of the Smithsonian museums had already closed in late December due to a COVID-19 outbreak, and the National Zoo, which is run by the Smithsonian, announced Monday it would close for the day because of the snow.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a snow emergency and advised residents to stay home.
“Stay off the roads and allow our crews to work,” she said.
President Joe Biden made a slow return to Washington on Monday after spending about a week in Delaware, though he could have departed Sunday to avoid the worst of the weather.
The snow grounded Biden’s helicopter, so he motorcaded to the White House from Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland, a slow slog that took nearly an hour. The White House Press briefing was canceled, although Biden’s other public events were still on.
More than half the flights were delayed or canceled Monday morning at Washington’s three major airports, according to FlightAware.com’s misery map. A quarter of the flights at New York’s three major airports were delayed or canceled as well.
The Weather Prediction Center said 2 inches of snow per hour could fall in some areas, and thunder snow was possible.
Many COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites were closed in D.C., Virginia and in Maryland due to the weather. Multiple school districts in the region said they would be closed, delayed or have virtual learning Monday.
In Falls Church, Virginia, where about 6 inches of snow had fallen Monday morning, Brent Nussbaum’s car hit a curb, and the weight of the snow cracked his windshield. But Nussbaum said the drive was worth it to get his daughters and their friends to a prime sledding spot.
The snow was still falling heavily as the girls debated which sled worked best in the conditions, but Nussbaum said it was better to get there early with younger kids before the big kids wake up and start barreling down the slope.
“I don’t have to worry about them getting drilled,” he said.
Karla Rivas, who is originally from Miami but now lives in Baltimore, experienced her first-ever winter storm.
“I love it,” she said. “I feel like it’s great to have the seasons.”
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Delaware and much of the Eastern Shore and southern New Jersey, with expected snow accumulations of 6 to 12 inches.
Schools and government offices in central and southern Delaware were closed, while state courts were closed across the state.
Other parts of the country were also dealing with a snowy start to the new year.
Western Washington state and Oregon were seeing a mix of rain and snow while heavy snow, gusty winds, drifts and crashes shut down mountain passes and some highways.
Even Florida woke up to a dusting of snow, with temperatures plunging in parts of the Panhandle after typical beach weather Sunday.
“Well how’s this for a temperature change? “From 75 degrees at 3 in the afternoon to snow at 3 am,” read a post from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office early Monday.
The storm toppled a steeple from atop Cooper River Baptist Church in North Charleston, South Carolina. When firefighters responded to a report of a downed power line, they saw the church’s fiberglass steeple in the roadway. No injuries were reported.
More than 500,000 customers were without power Monday morning as the winter storm warning extended from northern Alabama and southern Tennessee through Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.
As much as 6 inches of snow accumulated in north Alabama, where authorities reported multiple roads were blocked because of icy spots and wrecks.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting. Founded in 1846, AP today remains the most trusted source of fast, accurate, unbiased news in all formats and the essential provider of the technology and services vital to the news business. The Trucker Media Group is subscriber of The Associated Press has been granted the license to use this content on TheTrucker.com and The Trucker newspaper in accordance with its Content License Agreement with The Associated Press.