WASHINGTON – A winter storm marched into the Mid-Atlantic region Wednesday, dumping nearly 2 feet of snow in some places and knocking out power to about 250,000 homes and businesses. It largely spared the nation’s capital, which was expecting much worse and had all but shut down.
Officials in Washington didn’t want a repeat of 2011, when a rush-hour snowstorm stranded commuters for hours, so they told people to stay off the roads and gave workers the day off. Dubbed the “snowquester,” the storm closed government offices, just as the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester were expected to do.
The storm pummeled the nation’s midsection on Tuesday, killing at least four people in weather-related traffic accidents. It was forecast to head to the northeast today, bringing strong winds, more snow and the possibility of coastal flooding to New England.
In Washington, where as much as 10 inches had been forecast, the storm did little but drop harmless snowflakes that rapidly melted amid warmer-than-expected temperatures. Federal offices in the region will be open today.
There were bigger problems elsewhere in the region, though.
Lashing winds blew off part of the roof of a Stone Harbor, N.J., condominium complex, and Ocean City officials advised residents to move their cars to higher ground in preparation of possible flooding. In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency and about 50 National Guard soldiers were sent to help clear roads. Up to 20 inches of snow piled up in central and western parts of the state. More than 200,000 people in Virginia alone were without power, and another 40,000 in New Jersey were in the dark. Hundreds of wrecks were reported around the region.
Some communities in Washington’s outer suburbs saw significant accumulation too.
In North Carolina, state officials said high winds led to sound side flooding along N.C. 12 and brought the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry run to a halt.
The current storm led to at least four deaths. A semi-trailer slid off a snow-covered interstate in western Wisconsin, killing two people. A central Indiana woman died when a semi-trailer plowed into her car after she lost control merging onto the highway, and a man from Columbia City in northeast Indiana was killed when his snowmobile left the road, headed across a field and crashed into a wire fence.
Hundreds more flights were canceled Wednesday at Dulles and Reagan National airports in the Washington area, according to the website FlightAware.com.