WASHINGTON – Tourists flocked to the monuments in the nation’s capital Sunday to enjoy 50-degree temperatures before yet another winter storm was expected to dump up to a foot of snow on parts of the East Coast.
In the latest blast of a harsh winter, forecasters said a layer of ice and as much as 10 inches of snow was possible by the end of today in Washington and the Mid-Atlantic region, while up to 8 inches of snow was predicted across parts of southern Pennsylvania. Nearly a foot of snow was expected in parts of New Jersey.
“I’m over it,” said Yasmon Hanks, 24, of Hampton, Va., echoing thoughts of many who’ve been cooped up inside this winter. Hanks visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall with her husband, Lynwood, and two young children. She was happy to be able to get outside, she said, because “I thought it was going to be way worse.”
Elsewhere on the Mall, joggers were out in shorts and T-shirts, families flew kites, and tour guides led groups around landmarks such as the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. Cherry blossom trees were growing new buds for the spring.
But much can change in a matter of hours. More snow and ice, perhaps as much as 2 inches falling every hour, were on the way ahead of this morning’s commute. By late Sunday afternoon, rain moved into the Washington area, temperatures dropped and the city had declared a snow emergency beginning early today.
On Sunday night, the federal government announced that its Washington-area offices will be closed today. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which sets leave policies for 300,000 federal workers in the region, says nonemergency personnel are granted excused absences for the day.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to be open and had arguments scheduled for today.
A round of wintry precipitation moved across much of the nation Sunday, bringing a mix of freezing rain and heavy snow to central and eastern states. Authorities warned of possible power outages and flight disruptions from weather that could affect millions.
In the Midwest, arctic cold temperatures hit Nebraska. Forecasters said Sunday’s single-digit high temperatures could set records across the state. And wind chills 20 to 35 degrees below zero were reported Sunday.
The same weather system inundated California with rain. Four hikers were rescued overnight after they became trapped by rising floodwaters in Malibu Creek State Park. Authorities were warning of mudslides and swollen creeks and drainage channels.